What a princely book. Never has a promise been so effortlessly reached and surpassed as when these authors said ‘we’ll take pictures of some dogs in American vineyards and it might be fun to look at’.
These are 450 right lovely looking creatures. Apparently, there was a forerunner to this project, Cathedral Cats. The words do not exist to express how much better this is than that.
Particular favourites of mine are Puck the Australian Shepherd (he can balance a biscuit on his nose… it’s not the balancing that impresses, see, it’s the iron will…) and Henry the Staffordshire Bull Terrier (he reminds me a little of my own pet. Being as how he is the same breed, and the same age, and the same colour).
Naturally, you’ll want to choose your own favourites over time, and if I were to try and divert you to the short-haired pointer on page 472, that would be just presumptuous of me.
In the rare event that you get tired of the endless gazing, the spliced-in short stories are a mixed bag. There’s some terrible schlock, some doggerel (sorry…) that you’ll wince at yourself for enjoying, some rather undisciplined streams of consciousness.
But there’s some marvellous stuff too, notably Ralph Steadman’s elliptical Wine Dogs of the World (illustrated beautifully, you’ve never seen dog-love conveyed so forcefully by a line drawing).
I was appalled by the inclusion of dog horoscopes, but a portrait of a curious rottie took my mind off it.
I must warn you, you’ll learn next to nothing about wine from this book. But man, can a dog lover kill a lot of time.
Wine Dogs USA Edition, 536 pages, by Craig McGill and Susan Elliott, photographs by Craig McGill and James Boddington
Written by Zoe Williams