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Book Review: IVAN!

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Book: IVAN!: A Pound Dog’s View on Life, Love, and Leashes

Author: Tim McHugh

Publisher: Turner Publishing, Nashville, TN

DogTipper Review: It’s amazing when you think about all the really high quality dog-centric literature which is being written today. I think it is safe to say that we are enjoying a kind of Renaissance period of canine literature, judging from the writing we have recently sampled at DogTipper. The genre is attracting gifted authors, many of whom have already excelled at other kinds of journalism and are now focusing their talents toward exploring the dog-centric universe.

Be it fiction or non-fiction, there is a wealth of great writing featuring our favorite furry companions, much of it written in the past few years. One recent example is Tim McHugh’s IVAN!: A Pound Dog’s View on Life, Love, and Leashes, a work of “creative nonfiction” which recounts Ivan’s story from injured, unwanted puppy with a bleak future to a beloved member of the McHugh family. Tim McHugh is a professional musician, composer, teacher and author of The Poet Chronicles.

The book is told completely in Ivan’s voice: by turns witty, funny, and philosophical, as Ivan the one-eyed pound mutt discovers his place in the world. Many of his insights include references to Russian literature, Tolstoy in particular. Ivan explains that the Russian author “has been a huge influence on our entire household” and that his name probably reflected that influence. So, which Ivan was he named for? Ivan says that it was probably the Tolstoy character Ivan Illych “who achieved enlightenment at the end of his life…I’m not sure what enlightenment is but I hear the word a lot around our house…I think I’m just a dog.”

Although just a dog, and a unique looking one at that (“I’m a one-eyed, three-legged pound dog with a lumpy head and an underbite, as well as a side-ways snaggletooth” he says in the “Introdogtion”[sic]), Ivan has a stout, loving heart, a sharp wit, and, despite his protestations, a sincere thirst for knowledge.

The arc of his life with his family, punctuated with triumphs and sorrows, will be a familiar one to dog people, but Ivan’s musings imbue the narrative with a unique flavor. Readers will love getting to know this Tolstoy-quoting canine and may learn a few things about their own pets (and about themselves) in the process. One could even call it enlightenment.

Price: $21.95 list. Turner Publishing is donating part of the proceeds from the book to animal rescue organizations.

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Disclaimer: We received a copy of this book for review. We were not paid for our review and all statements and opinions are our own.

About 

Paris Permenter is an award-winning author of over 30 pet and travel books. Along with her husband, John Bigley, Paris is the founder and publisher of CatTipper and DogTipper.

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