What is it that dogs have done to earn the title of "man's best friend"? And more broadly, how have all of our furry, feathered, and four-legged brethren managed to enrich our lives? Why do we love them? What can we learn from them? And why is it so difficult to say good-bye? Join B.J. Hollars as he attempts to find out – beginning with an ancient dog cemetery in Ashkelon, Israel, and moving to the present day.
Hollars's firsthand reports recount a range of stories: the arduous existence of a shelter officer, a woman's relentless attempt to found a senior-dog adoption facility, a family's struggle to create a one-of-a-kind orthotic for its bulldog, and the particular bond between a blind woman and her Seeing Eye dog. From the Mouths of Dogs culminates with Hollars's own cross-country journey to Hartsdale Pet Cemetery – the country's largest and oldest pet cemetery – to begin the long-overdue process of laying his own childhood dog to rest.
Through these stories, Hollars reveals much about our pets but even more about the humans who share their lives, providing a much-needed reminder that the world would be a better place if we took a few cues from man's best friends.
B.J. Hollars is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, USA. He is the author of Opening the Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa (winner of the Society of Midland Authors Award and the Blei/Derleth Nonfiction Award) and Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence, and the Last Lynching in America, among others.
"An honest, heartwarming choice for animal lovers."
– Eric Liebetrau, Kirkus
"Part anthropology, part ethnography, part memoir, fully awesome, From the Mouths of Dogs is one of the loveliest, smartest, and most intimate celebrations [and] interrogations of heartbreak [...] that I've read in quite some time [...] Hollars brilliantly reveals us as a species with equal need for the body and the dust, for history, for memory, for miracle."
– Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Preparing the Ghost
"B.J. Hollars allows us intimate glimpses of dog-human relationships that are not usually in public view: behind the scenes at a shelter, in a home for senior dogs, or in the makeshift pet cemetery at his childhood home. Any animal lover will eagerly absorb these stories of love, compassion, and, inevitably, grief."
– Brenda Miller, author of Blessing of the Animals