The Bookworm Sez: Why do we love dogs? Author hits the road to find the answer

The Bookworm Sez: Why do we love dogs? Author hits the road to find the answer

You are your dog’s only pack. And the pack is happy.

A trip to the corner store started it all: you said “Go for a ride?” and he nearly exploded. That’s his favorite thing, which makes it your favorite thing and right then, you weren’t sure which moved faster – your vehicle, or his tail.

Yep, your dog loves going places. And in the new book “Travels with Casey” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis (c.2014, Simon & Schuster, $26, 341 pages), it’s the trip of two lifetimes.

Does my dog love me?

That’s a question that drove Benoit Denizet-Lewis to therapy. His good-natured Lab-Golden cross, Casey, didn’t seem happy and Denizet-Lewis wondered if maybe Casey would rather have a “different human.” It was silly, maybe, but a decision was needed quickly: Denizet-Lewis wanted to write a book, and he’d planned a cross-country, fact-finding, dog-loving RV trip – with Casey included, he hoped.

Inspired by John Steinbeck’s travel-with-a-dog tale, Denizet-Lewis says “I wanted to write a different kind of dog book. I planned to travel across America … and hang out with as many dogs (and dog-obsessed humans) as I could.”

With a launching point near Boston, Denizet-Lewis coaxed Casey into a gas-guzzling RV and headed to a dog park, then to visit a Massachusetts pet photographer. In Connecticut, he and Casey – who initially hated the RV – contributed efforts to a long-time search for a lost Corgi.

In New York City, which didn’t have a pooper-scooper law until 1978, Denizet-Lewis spent a day at a dog run where snarling and fighting were common among the humans. He visited Westminster; the owner of the latest Georgia Bulldog mascot; and the founder of PETA. He petted wolf-dogs, learned about an invisible dog in Savannah, witnessed the proceedings at a high-kill shelter, and watched dock-jumping competitors. He and Casey did doga in Florida, where Denizet-Lewis fell in love with a new man. They met a cynophobe, consulted a pet psychic, and added a new member to their family in Arizona.

And “somewhere around Texas,” the question of dogs and love was answered…

Why do we adore dogs so? You could answer blithely, but the real reasons are quite deep – and you’ll find plenty of them inside “Travels with Casey.”

Making a great big country-wide loop, dog lovers will drool over this (almost) golden reading: we’re introduced to canine worlds populated mostly by aficionados, offered literary kibble about dogs, and we learn something about ourselves – all wrapped up in a delightful romp with a man and his pup.

The “almost” comes, believe it or not, with ads. Author Benoit Denizet-Lewis admits that he received product support for his trip with Casey and to that end, he gives dozens of shout-outs to manufacturers and corporations. I suppose that’s the way to fund a book like this, but it got to be too much.

Still, I couldn’t have resisted this book if I tried, and I think dog lovers will feel the same. If that’s you, and you love reading in bed, in the car, on vacation, wherever, “Travels with Casey” is the book to pack.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at

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