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Dogs, by Graham Sale


Review by Nancy Brannon

As we focus more on dogs in our February and March issues than at other times throughout the year, and publish our annual Field Trial Review, which is all about bird dogs, it is apropos that we include a book on dogs in this issue. We introduce you to cartoonist Graham Sale’s latest book: Dogs.

In these days when we frequently hear in the news of conflict, hatred, bias, turmoil – and all kinds of negativity, it’s good to hear from the brighter side. Humor is a great way of dealing with life’s vicissitudes and the vitriol that lately seems to fuel human interaction.

The cover cartoon asks the proverbial question: “Does this bone make me look fat?” On the back cover, the book is graced with the “Funny Bone Fresh” seal of approval. And many of the cartoons throughout are sure to tickle your funny bone!

The first cartoon in Sale’s book is my favorite – with the dog looking at the Dog sign in the mirror as it reads God. “I knew it!” thinks the dog. For those of us who have dogs, and other small animals, we know it’s true. I think it could definitely be applied to cats – but the spelling just doesn’t work out.

My next favorite is “Relaxation Expert” with the dog sprawled out on his back, legs to the four directions, just relaxing and possibly waiting for petting. Also applies to cats.

Third: “I’ve never smelled anyone as wonderful as you.” Two dogs, who look like Snoopy, are lying together in the grass looking very peaceful and satisfied. And we all know how important smell is to a dog!

My fourth favorite is a takeoff on a combination Beatles song and “The Sound of Music:” “When I find myself in times of trouble, Julie Andrews comes to me, speaking words of wisdom…Do. Rei. Me.”

But the one that really hits home is the cartoon of the dog with lipstick kisses all over it, lying asleep while the cat lurks behind with a smile and a heart over its head. That’s exactly what our dog Charlie experiences every day – being loved by our cats! They go on hikes with him around the pasture; they rub up against him, marking him with their scent; they meow at him and always want to be by his side; and they want to curl up and sleep with him. He’s such a cat magnet!
Of course, there’s the dog hugging the person’s leg” “110% pure LOVE.” And the one following, with the cat and dog together: “Love is Irresistible.” Dogs regularly permeate our lives with their loyalty and affection.

My next favorite cartoon is the dog enjoying a cup of coffee – that’s me. “Coffee and Friends are the perfect blend.” I savor my morning cups of coffee, when I’m usually joined by one or more of the small animal “friends” around our house.

Graham Sale is a political cartoonist, writer, and author whose cartoons you’ve probably seen in dozens of publications. I got on Sale’s email list after he was a guest with the local discussion group “Food for Thought,” and periodically received one of his cartoons by email – usually very timely and just “hitting the spot.”

Not all of his cartoons will appeal to you, and there are some in this book on dogs that are more “adult humor.” But the best thing we can do in these tumultuous times is to add a heaping dose of humor to our daily lives. As Sale says on his website: “Ask your doctor if laughter is right for you.”

Sale left Memphis a couple of years ago and now lives in Asheville, NC, which he says is “a dog town; it’s bonkers for dogs. The restaurants, the hotels are all dog friendly; there are menus for dogs; and parades for dogs. There are dogs at outdoor cafes.”

He was cartoonist for the Memphis Commercial Appeal when Chris Peck was the editor. But he says it was hard to make a living as a political cartoonist. “The most I got paid for a cartoon was $30.”

Back in his 20s, Sale was a model and was the man on the Johnny Walker Scotch bottle. And that got him into the show jumping horse culture, as his employer sponsored several events and he was hired to travel and greet people on the show circuit. Sale said he traveled from Lake Placid to Devon and to the National Horse Show in Washington, DC. What he remembers is how tough the lifestyle was, with people – no matter their wealth – getting to the stables early in the morning, mucking stalls, wearing their “Wellies.” He said most of the people were on the road a long time and rarely went home.  He talked about the elaborate displays the retail vendors would set up at the shows: “really elegant, with furniture and lamps, like a brick and mortar store.”

“There were a lot of Jack Russell terriers around, and that was my first encounter with real terriers,” he said. Now Sale says he has really gotten into dog stuff, and, thus started drawing cartoons featuring dogs. He sells his books online and in person at kiosks. “I can’t stop thinking of dog cartoon ideas. I’m enjoying this so much more [than political cartoons] and I’m amazed at how popular dogs are, both nationwide and worldwide.”

Sale said he is working on a cat book and he has a book titled “Time For Easter,” with 150 cartoons on God and religion, and “a crazy little thing called love.” Sale says that everything he sells is inexpensive because he wants people to have laughs.

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