Today's DoggDogphoriaWhat Today’s Dogg (a book of cartoons) and Dogphoria (a book of photos) have in common is a love of philosophy. Either would look good on your coffee table, where guests can thumb through and find a chuckle or a few words of wisdom in a few moments without having to read the books in their entirety.

Guy Gilchrist’s cartoons have been enshrined as art in the Smithsonian Institute and found all over the world (as well as in the White House). A portion of all proceeds from his book are donated to grass-roots animal rescue groups. He is indeed an artist, with a deft characterization and illustrative ability, as in an instant we recognize his cross-hatched cat, dog, and human characters and the ironies in our daily existence.

Jim Dratfield pairs famous (and interesting) quotations with dog photos (made entirely other entities by the effects of the words, although totally capable of standing up as portraits on their own). Just like humans, his dogs smile, sleep, contemplate, wait, lick faces, and show themselves to the world. He writes, “I want to thank not only the dogs portrayed in my book, but all canines I’ve ever known. Be they tiny or tall, rail thin or squat as a mushroom. Be they sly scoundrel or obedient cur; each in his or her bouyant splendor has left an indelible print on my heart and in my soul. If life offers us moments of euphoria then it is only fair to say our beloved dogs offer us – dogphoria!” The photos of two specially-trained Leader Dogs For The Blind, Lucy and Maddy, are included in Dogphoria and a portion of the book’s proceeds goes to generating “more of these euphoric life-enhancing dog/person relationships. Leader Dogs are not only ‘man’s best friend’ – they are partners, family, and, as one person describes it, ‘my whole heart.” Actress Laura Dern writes that “Jim is a master at capturing the soul of a dog in a photograph.”

The cover of Guy Gilchrist’s Today’s Dogg shows a cat, with hearts dancing above her head, saying “You complete me” to a dog whose eyes look terrified. “Beauty – Both A Blessing & A Curse” depicts a collie with sad eyes and the caption “I’m more than just a ‘Hug Object’!

I’m a ‘First Responder’! Timmy’s down a well? Get Lassie! C’mon Girl! The barn catches fire? Get Lassie!!! Just love me for all of me! Ok?” The words are incorporated into the cartoon as one artistic entity. Another cartoon, a sad one, shows a tombstone from the side, an American flag, and a dog in front of the grave with the words “I Miss You.” One wildly happy dog is seen with a bowl of food flying through the air and the arms and one leg of a woman, as we come to understand “For You…Dinner Ruined. For Me….Pasta from heaven!” “A Dogg’s Guide To Baseball” shows us a dog clutching a mitt in his mouth with the suggestion “Try Olive Oil as a glove conditioner! or bacon grease! We thank you.” You just never know what the next topic of a Guy Gilchrist “doggy” cartoon will be!

A quote from Dr. Seusss (Theodore Geisel), “You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams,” is paired with the photo of a small dog surrounded by the front arms of a much larger dog. “Summer afternoon – summer afternoon, to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language,” wrote Henry James, and across from these words we see a dog running outdoors in a field bordered by trees. A smiling dog with a raised face shows us “Always laugh at yourself first – before others do” – Elsa Maxwell, and “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies” – Aristotle – shows two dogs carrying the same stick together at the beach. The quotes are varied and interesting and simple and complex, and our curiosity is peaked as we turn page after page to see the lovely sepia-like photos of the dogs who share our lives with us.

I urge everyone (dog-lovers included) to purchase these books, where a wealth of thought is hidden beneath beautiful and/or funny pictorials. It makes us fondly remember our love of the dog and the moments, funny, happy, sad, disconsolate, warming, bonding, and glorious, that we feel with our dogs!

Today’s Dogg, by Guy Gilchrist, published by Fastpencil Premiere on May 1, 2011, 148 pages, and Dogphoria by Jim Dratfield, published on May 16, 2011 by Fastpencil Premiere, 120 pages.

Reviewed by Christina Zawadiwsky

Christina Zawadiwsky is Ukrainian-American, born in New York City, has a degree in Fine Arts, and is a poet, artist, journalist and TV producer. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Award, two Wisconsin Arts Boards Awards, a Co-Ordinating Council of Literary Magazines Writers Award, and an Art Futures Award, among other
honors. She was the originator and producer of Where The Waters Meet, a local TV series created to facilitate the voices of artists of all genres in the media, for which she won two national and twenty local awards, including a Commitment to Community Television Award. She is also a contributing editor to the annual Pushcart Prize Anthology,
the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and has published four books of poetry. She currently reviews movies for and , music for
, and books for .

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