Rushville Republican

Entertainment

January 28, 2014

Book Review: 'The Dogs and I: True Tails from the Mississippi' by Kenny Salwey

The whole world is your living room.

That’s how it feels sometimes because you don’t know any better place for relaxing than the outdoors. With a shady tree as your easy chair, birdsong as your music, and your dog nearby, you could be outside 24/7.

You and your furry best friend do everything together: hunting, fishing, exploring, observing. And in the new book “The Dogs and I” by Kenny Salwey, you’ll see that man + dog + outdoors = a pretty good life.

When Kenny Salwey was about four years old, he was attacked by a dog – in a good way. The pooch’s name was Brownie, and Salwey remembers coming around the corner of his parents’ house as Brownie knocked him to the ground and “thoroughly washed my face, which no doubt needed it anyway.” That was the first dog Salwey remembers loving, but Brownie was far from the last.

Rover was six-year-old Salwey’s first hunting pal. It Salwey’s their job to rid the farm of feed-destroying sparrows, and Rover was good at flushing them out. He was also a good fishing companion on lazy summer afternoons, as Salwey remembers.

Teddy, who joined the family later, was a coddled Mama’s boy and Salwey’s mother encouraged it by fussing over the dog. Then along came Pepper, who lived up to his spicy name. Pepper sure made a fine squirrel dog, though.

Once he got out of the army in the 1960s, Salwey – who missed life “on the lovely little farm tucked away back in the hill country” – got a dog as soon as he could. Old Spook was almost a throwaway, but he became a once-in-a-lifetime dog for Salwey: they were hunting companions, fishing buddies, and “inseparable” best friends for sixteen years. It broke Salwey’s heart when Spook died but “Old Spook helped me better understand the great Circle of Life.”

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