“Every dog lover dreads the loss of their adored pet. Mostly, we try not to think about it,” begins the preface to “A Dog’s Life: A Collection of Humorous Tributes Celebrating Man’s Best Friend” by Peter Bogyo. “We know a dog’s life expectancy is far less than a human’s; it is almost inevitable that one day we will have to endure the loss of a cherished member of the family. Yet time and again the joy, and more importantly the unconditional love, our dogs give us seduce us into eventually adopting another one. It’s a pact with the devil we knowingly make.”
Bogyo, a veteran general manager of Broadway and off-Broadway shows, first thought of the book after putting his beloved Scottish terrier Bilbo to sleep. Through his tears, he decided to write a tribute to Bilbo’s life, using humor to cope with his grief. “Favorite pastimes included chasing tennis balls and policemen on bicycles, growling at schnauzers, and rolling in the dirt after first getting thoroughly wet.”
That obituary led to others, making Bogyo realize that every dog’s life was a glorious, often hilarious little story just waiting to be told and celebrated.
Wherever he went, he put out the word that he was the go-to person for canine obituaries.
“I was shameless,” he says. “I did this during early morning dog walks in the park, at dinner parties, on Facebook, on airplanes, even during a break in rehearsals for a 60th anniversary reunion concert for my college a cappella singing group.”
The table of contents alone is enough to bring a smile and a tear to any pet lover’s eye: “Tigger Knapp, a VERY bad golden lab.” “Oliver Litwack, a dashing bearded collie.” “Watson HV Miller, a medicated bichon frise.”
Each obituary brings each canine to life. “Moonlight grew up in a liberal, bi-species family, and peaceably shared her home with several cats … From them, she learned to lean up and rub against people,” he writes of Moonlight Gautier, a black standard poodle from Fairfield, NJ.
Zorro Long of Lafayette, Calif., was the runt of the litter and “the love child of a torrid misalliance between an impetuous springer spaniel and a dashing (but irresponsible) retriever.”
“The last dog of the litter to be placed, Zorro was miraculously charmed as well — he narrowly avoided being eaten by his unstable mother, a fate a number of his more outgoing siblings sadly succumbed to. Thus, at a very early age, he learned there are advantages to hanging back and not putting oneself out there.”