Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dogs are like tattoos...

The Dogs Who Found Me
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
The first time I was offered the chance to write a book about dogs, I said "I don't think I have enough to say about them." The result was "Dog Culture: Writers on the Character of Canines," in which eleven other writers joined me in creating essays that spoke about the meaning of dogs in our world.

Through the publication process, I kept pausing to tell my editor, via email or the phone, about the latest stray that had wondered into my life. "Do you want to write a book about rescuing dogs?" she asked. I didn't know if it was that interesting. But my friends kept asking "Where do you find them?"and I realized that not everyone finds a stray dog waiting for them outside their door, or at a shopping center, or a gas station, or...

So why was I finding them? And why was I compelled to do something while so many other people would simply wander past these lost animals?

In preparing to write the book, I discovered there was something deeper going on. Each of the dogs seemed to have arrived in my world as my world was spiraling out of control, as lives often do. Just after 9/11. During and after the deaths of two close friends.

During the early stages of writing the book, my heart stopped working. Literally. I didn't know, but my dogs understood. What started out as a simple book of stories became more personal, and more universal as it went along.

I finished the book in July 2005, just as the dogs and I were moving to New Orleans. On August 29th, we left just ahead of the evacuation order, and in October we returned, adding two unexpected chapters to the end of our story.

--Ken Foster


Becky said...

Enjoyed your Fresh Air interview. I've spent all my free time over the last 6 years rescuing Great Danes for a large rescue.

It's true that they've rescued me as well. My heart's been stolen -- and will be broken -- by Chloe who came to me bald and bleeding. We've had a time, Chloe and I, and although we've got her mange managed and a lot of hair (not nearly all of it)back, the worst news camne about 2 months ago.

Like a lot of Great Danes (Chloe's sort of a miniature dane, not quite 100 pounds) she has heart problems -- attrial fibrillation, a heart murmur and finally, cardiomyopathy.

I don't know how long she'll be around, it's already too hard for her to jump up in the bed with me. But I am grateful for every minute I've had with her. I started a blog for her, but haven't had the heart to update it at:

Suzy Sherman said...

I heard your interview with Diane Rehm and it compelled me to pick up your book -- I loved it so much I'm recommending it to everyone, but they have to buy their own copy! We have 5 cats, a dog and bird -- all are rescue animals. My husband and I tend to prefer animals to people -- if I had more land (a farm, perhaps) we'd probably become a foster family but I'm limited by my suburban-sized home and yard. My dog Rupert is definetly my soulmate -- we adopted him when he was 8 months old - someone moved out of a house and decided to just leave him behind. He too has separation anxiety -- even 7 years later -- and we go everywhere together! You can see his picture at -- he reminds me of Biloxi.

Lynne said...

I could really relate to your book. I am been "finding" dogs since I was a child. I brought home strays as a child and my parents had to deal with the stray too. Of course they were never upset since my dog was a dog lover and did the same during his life. That was his legacy to me. I find dogs on runs, walking the neighborhood you name it. However, I was once reprimanded by a police officer for stopping traffice on a major highway for a dog that was in the road. The officer told me I risked lives and I should be more careful. You know, I would do it again. Thanks for sharing your stories. I wish there were more people like you in this world. I have two dogs both from the Humane Society and they are the loves of my life. I leave them for a week this weekend and anxiety has already set in. I made sure I finished your book before I left because otherwise I would head back home if I was reading it on the beach.