Dog Walks Man

Dog Walks Man

A Six-Legged Odyssey

By John Zeaman

Lyons Press, Hardcover, 9781599219639, 307pp.

Publication Date: October 5, 2010

A humorous, thoughtful, absorbing narrative aboutthe metaphysical joys of a simple daily task Imagine if Annie Dillard had taken a dog along with her to Tinker Creek. Now imagine Tinker Creek was a New Jersey suburb, and you have an idea of the surprises that await in John Zeaman's book. Humorous, thought-provoking, and playful, Dog Walks Man might also be called Zen and the Art of Dog Walking. Zeaman takes us on a journey from a 'round-the-block fraternity of dog-walking dupes suburban fathers who indulged their children's wish for a dog to a strange and forbidden wonderland at the edge of town, the New Jersey Meadowlands. Along the way, he rediscovers childhood's forgotten fringe places, investigates the mysteries of the natural world, and experiences moments of inexplicable joy. Each chapter of Dog Walks Man is a bite-size meditation on the wisdom derived from dogs and dog walking. Woven into the narrative are musings on such familiar dog-walking issues as the war of nerves that precedes each walk (or w-a-l-k if your dog is in earshot), the problem of dog-walking monotony, and why dog walkers are always the ones to discover dead bodies. This is also the story of Pete, the prescient standard poodle who begins as the family glue and evolves into Zeaman's partner on a journey through an abandoned landscape as alive as any jungle. Above all, Dog Walks Man is about a search for wholeness in an increasingly artificial world. It is about discovering what Thoreau meant when he wrote, in his seminal essay Walking, Life consists with wildness. Because the truth is, something as simple as walking the dog can open up unexpected worlds. An excerpt In the beginning, I walked around the block. Or a couple of blocks. It didn t seem to matter. That it didn t matter was in itself novel. It had been a long time since I had gone out without any particular destination or direction, without knowing whether I was going to turn left or turn right at the end of the front walk. . . . The simple aimlessness of it made me feel like a kid again. . . .Pete, with his boundless enthusiasm for the outside world, was like the reincarnation of that juvenile self. We d hit the sidewalk and, like two kids with nothing special to do, spend a half-hour meandering about. We were suburban vagabonds. In the mornings, with the whole world rushing to get somewhere, there was something almost subversive about roaming around with a companion who had no responsibilities.We walked the irregular streets of our hilly town. We each had our compulsions. I revived the childhood aversion to stepping on cracks. Pete made sure that every tree was marked with his scent. . . .At night, Pete and I would escape the sometimes-suffocating sweetness of family life the pajamas and stories, the smell of toothpaste and sheets, the damp goodnight kisses and prolonged hugs. We d slip out into the silky night like a pair of teenage boys with high hopes for a Saturday night. We d walk beneath the streetlights from one pool of light to the next. The people in the houses would drift past the windows like aquarium fish. Pete, with his black coat, was practically invisible in the dark stretches and I would let him off the leash.

Praise For Dog Walks Man

"Dog Walks Man by John Zeaman is a contemplative and humorous exploration of one of the simplest pleasures: walking with a dog. The narrative's strength comes from its quiet, meditative pacing. Whether he's walking along suburban alleys with Pete, the Poodle, or exploring the phantasmagorical landscape of New Jersey's Meadowlands, the author's musings on life's wildness are a pleasure and joy." Bark magazine, Editor's Lit Picks "Journalist John Zeaman creates a masterpiece of contemplation in Dog Walks Man: A Six-Legged Odyssey. . . . His droll observations on dog-walking combine insight, solace and meditation, taking readers into the heart of a routine task, dusting the ordinary with the divine." --Bookpage "'Suburban vagabonds' Pete and John explore the wild fringes of their neighborhood. . . . Pete never fails to lift the author's spirits: Each walk is an adventure, each return home has the level of emotion 'of Odysseus catching sight of Ithaca on the horizon.'"
Los Angeles Times “John Zeaman looks at an activity that can fill hundreds of hours over the period of year, but has never had its own bard—namely, walking a dog. More than a consideration of the human-animal bond, this book is an amusing and thoughtful look at our ever changing environment and the flow of our lives. Well worth reading.”—Stanley Coren, author of The Modern Dog “A very well-written and funny John McPhee–style approach to . . . dog walking. . . . Fascinating.”
Publishers Weekly, Rep Picks for Fall 2010
"A thought-provoking and always entertaining series of observations about what (Zeaman) has learned from dogs and dog walking....Anyone who has ever owned a dog will treasure this wonderful book."- Alan Caruba, Editor / "Memoir readers—not just New Jerseyans or nature lovers/dog people—will find this book’s gentle humor and wisdom, its exploration of the strange and ordinary, thoroughly absorbing. Highly recommended." —Library Journal "These essays are alternatively humorous and poignant . . .  The author speaks from a place of great affection for dogs, nature, doggie dads (that "brotherhood of dupes"), and New Jersey." --Publishers Weekly
"If you've even felt that the simple pleasure of walking a dog elevates an outing in nature to the sublime, you'll have plenty to relate to in Zeaman's funny and joyful memoir of his years as the family dog-walker. An entertaining, thought-provoking narrative about the search for wholeness in an increasingly artificial world, dog lovers will relate to Zeaman's observations on how this simple task can open up unexpected worlds." --Modern Dog Magazine