In Of Dogs & Dissertations: Notes on Writing & Life, Ardra Cole weaves together two important ideas: 1) writing and researching are creative acts of self-understanding; 2) dogs help us construct who we are and what it means to be human. She does so with the assistance and company of the three dogs with whom she shares her life and love.
Dogs embody qualities that are lessons to writers (and non-writers alike): humility, nose-to-the-ground discipline, presence, attunement, honesty, patience, humour, dignity, dogged persistence, a basic wisdom about the need for physical, emotional, and intellectual balance, and, of course love, to name but a few. Of Dogs & Dissertations: Notes on Writing & Life is a pocket-sized companion to emerging writers, creative researchers, and all those who know and love dogs. Tucked into a pocket, knapsack, or briefcase it is ready to be picked up and read while waiting for the bus or standing in line at a coffee shop or ticket booth. Lying on a bedside table, desk, or near the kitchen stove it is ready to accompany morning coffee or provide a respite from the computer screen or stirring risotto. Read it to yourself or to a friend. Read it for inspiration or for pleasure or for both. It is intended to make you smile. It is intended to make you think. Perhaps most of all it is intended to give paws (sorry) to reflect on the many ways that life and lives are enriched by the presence and company of dogs.
In praise of Of Dogs & Dissertations: Notes on Writing & Life:
An intimate, unpretentious, soothing meditation on the qualities that give life meaning. Of Dogs and Dissertations is an invitation to be true. It is a call to connect with all that is good–in writing and in life.
Maura McIntyre, researcher and writer, University of Toronto (with James, Thali and the spirit of Cleo)
A collection of sensitive, honest anecdotes about the bonds between human and dog, life and life’s work. Poetic and meditative, each chapter has the brevity and depth of a koan. It’s the kind of book to pick up and play with–go forwards and backwards, muddle about in it, then pause to consider the Others in your own life and what it means to be a human animal among them.
Andrew Kett, PhD student University of Toronto, educator and writer (with Sydney)
There is no more soulful a presence, as one researches and writes, than that of a dog. And it is that presence that Ardra Cole has lovingly illuminated in this beautiful book. Her love and reverence of a dog’s honest witnessing of life lessons is palpable on every page. As you immerse yourself in these vignettes, each dog offers replenishment to that well from which scholarly writers draw.
Cheryl van Daalen-Smith, professor, York University (with Jack, Gigi and the spirit of Petey and Teddy)
Heartful and hopeful, playful and profound, Of Dogs & Dissertations honours the lessons that dogs can teach humans if we are willing to learn, especially about how writing well and living well are integrally connected to loving well.
Carl Leggo, poet and professor, University of British Columbia (with Mr. Burns)