Praise for Biography of a Bird Dog

Garry Wallace breaks a lot of rules with his writing, but by doing so, actually turns a dog’s biography into a warm and gripping story. He anthropormorphizes in Biography of a Bird Dog to be sure, with a style that is clearly whimsical. But underneath the Biography, is also a story of life in the Northern Rockies, for man and beast alike. The story is written in the literary tradition of a Wallace Stegner book. Jay F. Kirkpatrick. Ph.D., Director of The Science and Conservation Center and author of Into the Wind.

Foreword by Retriever Journal editor-at-large E. Donnall Thomas Jr.:

Since Labrador retrievers are the most popular canine breed in America, their popularity as book subjects should come as no surprise. The breed’s history has been well documented and instructional books telling how to train them abound. Labs figure prominently in numerous collections of fireside outdoor reading material and a number of our best sporting photographers have produced coffee table books celebrating their utility in the field and popularity in the home. Considered in this context, it’s hard to imagine anyone inventing an entirely different approach to writing about Labs.

But darned if Garry Wallace hasn’t done it. A college biology instructor in Wyoming, Wallace’s scientific background is evident throughout Biography of a Bird Dog, in which he records with Proustian attention to detail the first half year in the life of Valley Girl, his female black Lab. An admittedly inexperienced trainer, Wallace wisely makes no effort to pose as an expert. He is learning right along with the dog and to his credit he acknowledges and records his mistakes honestly so that others might learn from them. Readers in search of nothing more complex than a roadmap to help them guide their pup from the whelping box to the field trial winner’s circle should look elsewhere, and Wallace is considerate enough to provide a useful bibliography as a guide in that direction.

Valley Girl’s story was never intended to be instructional. Instead, the text is a celebration: of the unique personality that defines every Labrador retriever, the enduring relationships that arise between hunting dogs and their handlers, and the special ambience of the wild Wyoming countryside Wallace and VG call home. The narrative reflects moments of exuberance and moments of doubt, tears and triumphs alike. Anyone who has ever scratched a Lab’s ears at the end of a long, trying day will understand and appreciate the care and insight Garry Wallace has brought to bear upon this heartfelt project.

E. Donnall Thomas Jr.
Lewistown, MT


Copyright 2006 Garry Wallace
Created by Danita Westbrooke