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Praise for The Ideal Dog

Country life columns are always written with city life in mind, and Tom Henry's column for the CBC Afternoon Show is no exception.

So it's fitting that this book, a collection of his recent radio musings, should begin with a description of his former life in the city - the life he escaped by moving to Metchosin. He outlines the hassles of his high-stress office-bound city job (he's got my sympathy; the much loathed job was as a staff writer at Monday) and juxtaposes it against the healthy tranquility of his new life in the country.

This is a valid sentiment, shared by wee-end trippers everywhere, but it's hard to base a whole book on it. Henry has already sucededed in doing that once, with his first anthology of columns, Dogless in Metchosin. That book was like a series of charming snap-shots, portraying the setting a piece at a time, meticulously keeping the
frame free of the ugly evidence of the nearby city.

In The Ideal Dog, Henry moves on from this formula, taking a more complete view of things. The book is better for it.

Along with the cozy descriptions of out-buildings and wood cutting, there creeps in an anxiety about urban encroachment - a film crew here, a new development there - that makes Henry's beloved way of living seem fragile and more precious.

It's also more honest about rural life itself - there's a column on lonliness for example. And Henry's piece on enrolling his daughter in school, "Humane Traps," is a touching meditation on what it means when we sacrifice freedom.

...for those who gaze out of their office cubicles and dream of open fields, it's as satisfying as the smell of new-mown hay.
-Fiona McCaw, Monday Magazine