Beautiful Old Dogs

“Beautiful Old Dogs,” edited by David Tabatsky, photographs by Garry Gross. St. Martin’s Press. $17.99.Beautiful Old Dogs

Puppies reflect pizazz. Senior dogs show character.

And character(s) is what you get in this inspiring kaleidoscope of 44 color photographs by the late Gross and solid complementary text from authors, show-business figures and everyday citizens about the virtues of living with a senior dog.

In Gross’s compelling photos, there’s a story in every face. Each gives you a hint of where he/she has traveled through life and if life is good today (when photographed).

Gross was a noted fashion photographer between the ‘60s and ‘80s, who segued into dog training and then, of course, turned his camera lens on dogs.

He became horrified by the plight of senior dogs in shelters and rescue agencies and was dedicated to establishing a positive image on their behalf. He characterized them as “dogs with soul in their eyes” and his pictures here convey that beautifully.

The book, Tabatsky says, in the Introduction, is “meant to honor our senior friends and explore their current state of care and custody, primarily in America, but also in other countries and cultures that treat their elderly pets especially well.”

But Tabatsky sees “Beautiful Old Dogs” as a “call to action” for readers to get involved through adoption, rescue or fostering senior dogs in need and encouraging others to do the same.

The book has precious quotes throughout. Here are a few:

“There are so many virtues in older dogs. They are typically gentle and easy going and most of the time they cause no trouble in their homes. This makes their frequent abandonment all the more painful.” – Valerie Macys, Ph. D, Cocker Spaniel Adoption Center, Inc., Elkridge, Md.

“Those of us with dogs will tell you that our dogs define the neighborhood culture and social scene. The dogs are great equalizers, bringing people together every day.” – David Frei, director of communications, Westminster Kennel Club, New York City.

“At the end of another day of rescuing, training and rehabbing new dogs, it is always a comfort to sit next to my older dogs that look up to me with their faces full of wisdom, ready to teach me once again how to be a better person.” – Bill Berloni, New York City theatrical animal trainer

The book has couple of nice Pacific Northwest twists with a chapter entitled “The Elder” by Steve Duno, noted Seattle author, and an entry in the valuable closing section on Resources for Care and Custody on Old Dog Haven, headquartered in Lake Stevens.

“Beautiful Old Dogs” serves up large doses of sentiment amidst a montage of commitment from the rich and the famous to anonymous contributors, all with one powerful message: Save a senior and begin smiling again.