Cooking with Dogs

by Karen Dowell

Published by Two Dog Press

64 pages, 1998


Canine Cooking Companions?

Reviewed by Linda L. Richards

It's a misleading title, but that's just as well: most of the dogs I know are crummy kitchen helpers at the best of times. They're much happier getting into things and under things than assisting with things, that's just the sort of critters they are.

The title Cooking with Dogs is more a comment on the nature of this book. A book for people to read to their pets. Or who might think about reading to their pets. That is to say, people who really, truly and deeply love their dogs and value their friendship and the company they provide. Author Karen Dowell seems to understand them -- both the people and the dogs -- very well.

Cooking with Dogs

The kitchen is empty. You've gone for a walk, leaving me to cook alone.

No curious black noses glide along the counter's edge. No puddles of drool shine on the floor. No feet or tails to trip over. No nudges to remind me you like cheese.

I slice mushrooms in begging silence, set aside some chicken skin, and wish I were cooking with dogs.

One of the first vignettes in the book and obviously the one that inspired the title, it also speaks volumes to the dog lover in me. I have cooked with dogs and experienced all of these things and so the warmth is shared easily in Dowell's sparse prose. But for everyone who understands the words and reads them with empathy, there is at least another who will wrinkle their nose and say, "Eeewwww!" at the references to drool and doggie noses on counters and even just doggie presences in kitchens. Dowell understands this as well.

Cooking with Dogs is a beautiful little book that will warm the heart of any true lover of dogs. 36 canine vignettes written by Dowell are punctuated by a lovely collection of canine illustrations created for the book. It's a beautiful production: one that has gift book written all over it. The reproduction of the illustrations are art-book quality. A dog and bone pattern used on the endpapers and a red-on-red varnish on the cover was designed by Dan May of Oakland, California. In all the illustrations of eight artists compliment Dowell's canine-focused slices-of-life. The result is a delightful picture book for adults -- or for to be read to a canine pal. | October 1998


Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several novels.