Woof! A book that celebrates personality, old age and our favorite, furry four-leggers

Did you ever see a dog and think, that dog reminds me of someone?

Maybe an old man who lives down the street or your crazy old Uncle Bob?

Well, I recently came across a little 6 by 6 square-shaped coffee table book that quite eloquently addresses just that type of occurrence: Dogs with Old Man Faces: Portraits of Crotchety Canines by Tom Cohen. (www.runningpress.com)

Cohen, who may be  better known as the Emmy-award winning TV guy who was the executive producer for Cash Cab and Cash Cab Chicago, said this is his first time venturing out into the book world.

His inspiration for this whimsical little photo book packed with 70 “crotchety” looking old man dogs aligned with phrases that coax a chuckle out of even the biggest cat lover?  His little girl shitzu, named Piper.

Cohen said in a recent interview that  though he loves his little 5-year-old Piper’s sweet face, she looks too much like a “dainty old lady” and at the time he was going for a book about  dogs that reminded him of that  proverbial cranky old guy down the block.

Bottom line, Piper is just way too sweet and lady-like for this book!

So, for about a year, Cohen went in search of scruffy, lovable, old male dogs, with cute, yet down-at-the-heels, old man faces.

He photographed dogs at the dog park near his home in Bethesda Maryland, and others hanging out with their owners in coffee shops and others strolling down the street.

He also collected some photos from friends as well as Mutts Matter Rescue in Rockville Maryland, where he had adopted Piper.

He then picked the best 70 out of  more than 100 furry faced photos.

Most times the general idea for the photo captions popped right into his head at first site of the dog, Cohen said.

Among the bunch who made it into the book is Bogie. With his mussed up fringy hair, distrusting glare and underbite, Bogie thinks “pit bulls are ruining the neighborhood.”

This old guy reminds me a little of Clint Eastwood in that 2008  movie Gran Torino where Eastwood played a grumpy old war veteran, angry that the ethnic make up of his beloved neighborhood was changing face.

Then there is lovable little Archie who as the quote reads “is almost always drunk.” Tipped off by his dazed, sideways glare (trying not to look you in the eyes, for fear of being busted for drinking a little gin with his Kibbles 'n Bits) and his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth.

“Archie has that kind of face that no matter what picture you take he is gonna come out looking that way,” Cohen said. “There is nothing you could do to Archie to clean him up. Still he has this lovable face and he just always looks a little out of it.”

Hm, I think we all know an old two-legged fellow like Archie!

Then there is my favorite, Sparky. With his messy blond hair pulled up in pigtails and a cheeky little grin, the caption reads “Sparky came out before it was fashionable.”

“There is something about Sparky’s face that just struck me as ‘gay and out’ before it was something people talked about,” Cohen said adding that he saw Sparky strutting his prideful self at the dog park one beautiful afternoon.

And let’s not ignore Rolo on the very next page letting out his secret that he “once dated Sparky.”

Me being the dog lover I am, I must say this book is a fun little break from some cold harsh realities in the world today. Just this week the news broadcasted stories of school shootings, a mall shooting, and countless number of senseless murders throughout the world.

But the book is even more than a resource for a brief chuckle or reprieve from sad news.

The book is a little reminder that there are older dogs living out their golden years in shelters and in need of warm, loving homes.

“I always encourage people to adopt senior dogs when at a shelter or an adoption event,” Cohen said. “A lot of people overlook the senior dogs, there are so many older dogs that need homes. Part of the book is (to promote)  an awareness that ... people should consider adopting older dogs.”

True, the older  dogs may not frolic and play the way puppies do, but they have lots of love and loyalty to share and many are in need of warm loving homes.

So if you come across this little book with the old gray muzzle of Dakota covered in snow on the cover, who we soon learn “still parties hard” pick it up for yourself or a friend.

It just may lighten up a mood, send you off on a lighter path for the day.  And what’s wrong with that? Woof!

Until next time, love each other,

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