(photo from Goodreads)
Most books about animals that I've read tend to fall prey to sentimentality, sappiness, or an unnecessarily heartbreaking ending. Happily, Travels with Casey did none of these, and I gave it a rare 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads! I am not exaggerating when I say I loved just about everything about this book: the chapter titles ("In which Casey and I encounter cats, cows, PETA, and the 'dog-poop lady'"), the places the author ventured to, and the author's way with words.
The book started off on a rather sad note: the author is under the impression that his dog doesn't like him, worrying that Casey would rather be elsewhere..."By elsewhere, I didn't mean in a different house or in a different neighborhood. I meant with a different human." To try and bridge the gap in the bond between human and dog, Lewis goes off on an RV adventure with Casey, traveling across the country to learn more about his canine companion and others like him.
The pair travels to a well-known dog park, the Westminster Dog Show, a pet expo, even to visit Cesar Milan! A stop that was of particular interest to me was a visit to the PETA founder, Ingrid Newkirk. Now, I knew that PETA had some rather radical ways of going about things. Turns out there are some dirty little secrets about the organization that I was completely unaware of - I found this portion of the book fascinating and also rather horrifying! I also appreciated that Lewis made a stop at Utah's Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a magical-sounding place that I have wanted to visit for some time now.
A map of some of the places the pair visited (via the author's Facebook page)
One place where the author and I did not agree? The tendency of dog-lovers to compare their love for their pet with their love for a child. "Although I adore dogs, I'm surprised when I hear people equate their love for their pets with their love for their kids," Lewis writes. He goes on to imply that such a thought is a "sign of insanity", that it is ridiculous to compare the two kinds of love. I understand where this comes from, but I have no children - I have my dog. And I love my dog, if not as much as I could love a child, certainly as a pampered and beloved companion and friend. I don't know - what are my fellow bloggers' thoughts on this?
I would highly recommend this book to anyone, though of course dog-lovers might appreciate it most. Travels with Casey reminded me quite a bit of A. J. Jacobs' book Drop Dead Healthy, in which the author makes it his goal to learn about and experience all sorts of different trends in dieting and exercise. In both memoirs, it was clear that there had been a LOT of research; however, the writing is so easy and fun to read that it doesn't seem like a research-heavy book. It is a rare find - both informative and entertaining. Although, readers be warned: Don't pick this book up if you're easily offended by a couple of F-bombs. (In my case, I say the more the merrier, so I had no issue!) :)
Before I go, I want to share with you one of my favorite passages from Travels with Casey, in which the author is learning to do "doga" (yoga with your dog) on the beach: "I watched as she effortlessly incorporated Curli...into many of her poses, including lifting him high into the air for her Warrior Pose. Curli looked like he'd been there before, and he almost seemed to smile as the wind rustled through his shaggy white fur." So cute. :)
Fun fact: Riley's name was once Casey! :)
My request to the author: A sequel to Travels with Casey in which you travel around the world and learn about how other cultures treat dogs differently?!
A huge THANK YOU to Benoit Denizet-Lewis, Simon & Schuster, and Leah at Let's Go Dog for my advance copy of this wonderful book! Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation, and all opinions are my own.
Visit the author at: www.TravelsWithCasey.com
Facebook: Travels With Casey
Twitter: @BenoitDLewis #TravelsWithCasey
You can also visit SimonandSchuster.com.
Happy reading! :)