Running to the Mountain

Posted by on Monday, March 28th, 2005

Jon Katz’s Running to the Mountain is the book that got him really talking about dogs. The autobiographical piece explains his impulsive purchase of a cabin in upstate New York, his attempts at establishing a new literary career, and his quest for spirituality. I read the book to meet his Labrador retrievers, and to get the back story on the man who wrote A Dog Year and The Dogs of Bedlam Farm. I read Katz’s books out of order, having learned of him first from his columns about dogs that appear in Slate. Like Katz, I disdain the ridiculous notion that our dogs are surrogate children or replacement children, or, frankly, anyone’s children other than their dams’. I love dogs for their dog-ness, and I won’t ask them to be furry people. They are fine the way they are. It soothes me to immerse myself in a book that accepts that important fact.

This is a good book, but is much more about Thomas Merton than it is about Julius and Stanley the labs. I can accept that. I like Merton. I did find it hard to accept that Katz would so clearly risk his family’s financial situation by purchasing a cabin they couldn’t afford. Except that I wish I would do the same, only long before I’m 50.

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