‘Dog Days’ is the latest book by Erica Waller.
Dog Days is a novel about those small but life-changing moments that only come when we pause to let the light in. It is about three people learning to make connections and find joy in living life off the leash.
I spent a lazy Sunday with my head in this book. A beautifully written story tackling sensitive subjects such as grief, mental health, domestic abuse as well as sexuality.
The story is seen through the perspective of three characters, George, Lizzie and Dan. Grumpy old man George, who throughout the story made me think of George from the Pixar film called ‘UP’. George has a gruff and ignorant nature and is at a loss when his wife Ellen dies suddenly. George is used to having Ellen, making his meals, washing his clothes and without Ellen there to do these things for him, George’s life stops at a standstill with only a beautiful little Dachshund puppy called Poppy to keep him company. Ellen thoughtfully bought Poppy as something for George to focus on as well as help him lose weight and get some exercise. It’s at his lowest that Betty comes into George’s after receiving complaints about Poppy’s barking and comes to George’s rescue much to his disgust. Betty is a warm-hearted and bubbly woman who loves to help others and the pair of bicker constantly with George protesting against Betty’s help and Betty fighting against with wonderfully sweet and creative language.
Lizzie has turned up at a women’s shelter with her little boy called Lenny, but has yet to reveal her story. She’s a quiet intense woman who misses her old life of being a primary school teacher and is at her most comfortable sharing facts and information with people. She’s not a dog lover but part of leaving at the shelter is to take elderly Jack Russell Terrier called Maud for walks. Maud knows that Lizzie isn’t used to dogs and does all she can to offer friendship and comfort to Lizzie.
Dan is at crossroads with his sexuality and when Atticus comes to his counselling sessions, Dan has to finally confront his thoughts much to his own fears. Dan is a wonderful character, he’s kind, shy and outspoken Atticus helps Dan finally feel comfortable with himself. Dan has a beautiful Golden Labrador called Fitz, a loyal companion who accepts Dan, no matter his sexual orientation.
All three people are facing real struggles in their lives and as they face them, there’s a four legged there to offer a hug or lick at their lowest ebbs. I absolutely adored this book and I found myself racing through it, purely for George’s perspective as he was the most amazing character. He’s a traditional man, with an old-fashioned mindset. Ellen did everything for him but he cared for Ellen in his own way, crafting pieces of furniture for her that made her delighted. His relationship with Betty was truly clever and fun reading as they battled with each other, but they brought some joy and company to their lives. Out of the three characters, George was the man with no interest in dog but as the story progresses, we see the shutters come down and he grows to love the tiny dog and the company she provides. Another beautiful element to the story, was the inclusion of letters to George from Ellen that she left for him after her death. These letters make for tender reading, as she’s offering guidance and support with gentle reminders of things that need sorted. These letters usually arrive when George is at his lowest.
As a dog lover myself, this book wholeheartedly proves the comfort and companionship that dogs provide, they offer no judgement and will love you unconditionally. This book was a joy to read from the start to finish. Filled with wit, tenderness and moments that will genuinely break your heart and give you hope, Ericka has written a book that handles hard hitting issues with grace and sensitivity, ‘Dog Walks’ is a book that stays with you long after you reached the final page.
You can pre-order ‘Dog Days’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 11th March 2021.