Dogland: Passion, Glory, and Lots of Slobber at the Westminster Dog Show (Hardcover)

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Dogland: Passion, Glory, and Lots of Slobber at the Westminster Dog Show (Hardcover)


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“This book wants to lick your face. Let it.” —Kirkus Reviews

From Pulitzer Prize finalist Tommy Tomlinson comes an inside account of the Westminster Dog Show that follows one dog on his quest to become a champion—and explores the bond between dogs and their people.

Tommy Tomlinson was watching a dog show on television a few years ago when he had a sudden thought: Are those dogs happy? How about pet dogs—are they happy? Those questions sparked a quest to venture inside the dog-show world, in search of a deeper understanding of the relationship between dogs and humans that has endured for thousands of years. Dogland shares his surprising, entertaining, and moving adventures.

Tomlinson spends three years on the road and goes behind the scenes at more than one hundred competitions across the country, from Midwestern fairgrounds to Madison Square Garden. Along the way he is licked, sniffed, and rubbed up against by dogs of nearly every size, shape, and breed. Like a real-life version of the classic mockumentary Best in Show, Dogland follows one champion show dog—a Samoyed named Striker—as well as his handler, Laura King, and his devoted entourage of breeders and owners as he competes in the 2022 Westminster Dog Show.

Striker’s whole career has been leading up to this moment. As Tomlinson writes, picking a top show dog is like drafting an NFL quarterback when they’re still in elementary school. Now Striker has made it to the Super Bowl. Tomlinson takes readers on the long road to glory, bringing the dog-show circuit to life as he witnesses teams scrambling from town to town in search of championship points and large, colorful ribbons. (Striker and his crew travel in a custom-built RV named after Betty White.)

Tomlinson’s limitless curiosity about people and dogs reaches far beyond the show tents and into the ordinary lives of dogs. We hear from experts who have discovered new insights into how dogs and humans formed their bond—and how that bond has changed over the centuries. We discover the fascinating origins of different dog breeds, learn about the elaborate breed standards that determine an ideal show dog, and consider the health issues that can arise in purebred dogs. We also meet dog lovers who applaud every dog, regardless of breed, simply for being themselves, such as WeRateDogs, the social media phenomenon with millions of followers, all for posts celebrating the day-to-day goofiness in most dog owners’ lives.

Engaging, charming, and insightful, Dogland is an irresistibly appealing read that invites us on a rollicking backstage tour through the rituals, tricks, and wonders of the dog-show world—and reveals what matters most for the happiness of dogs and dog lovers everywhere.
Tommy Tomlinson is the author of The Elephant in the Room, a memoir about being overweight in America. He’s the host of the podcast SouthBound in partnership with WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR station. He has written for publications including EsquireESPN the MagazineSports IllustratedForbesGarden & Gun, and many others. He spent twenty-three years as a reporter and local columnist for the Charlotte Observer, where he was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. His stories have been chosen twice for the Best American Sports Writing series (2012 and 2015) and he also appears in the anthology America’s Best Newspaper Writing. He teaches magazine writing at Wake Forest University and has taught at colleges, workshops, and conferences across the country. He also has a Substack called The Writing Shed. Tommy and his wife, Alix Felsing, live in Charlotte with Alix’s mom and a cat.
Product Details ISBN: 9781982149321
ISBN-10: 1982149329
Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 23rd, 2024
Pages: 256
Language: English
“Disarming and humorous . . . This book wants to lick your face. Let it.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Those of us who have ever had our hearts and guts torn out from the loss of our dog like to say we’ll never let that happen to us again. This great story, told with a kind of beauty, reminds us why it was worth it, every stinking second, to be in their company.”
Rick Bragg, author of All Over but the Shoutin’ and The Speckled Beauty

“You should only read Tommy Tomlinson’s Dogland if you want to find joy. In a time when we are surrounded by so much stress and rage and unease, this book is a big ol’ slobbering smooch of optimism, laughter, and happiness.”
Joe Posnanski, author of Why We Love Baseball

“I wanted to make a dog pun here, something clever to celebrate Tommy’s accomplishment, but instead I’m left speechless from this tale of love, humor, obsession, loneliness and devotion.”
Wright Thompson, author of Pappyland

“The eccentricities of the dog show world . . . enthrall in Tomlinson’s capable telling. Fans of Best in Show will want to add this to their shelf.”
Publishers Weekly

“I love this book! I learned history and science I didn’t know, laughed out loud every few pages, and came away even more grateful that we get to share this world with dogs.”
Anna Sale, host of Death, Sex & Money and author of Let’s Talk About Hard Things

“As hilarious and heartwarming as a basket of puppies, the story of Dogland hangs on the competition for best-in-show perfection. There’s plenty here on show dogs’ breeding and training, the physical traits that judges demand, and the offbeat characters that populate this world. But, at its heart, Dogland is about our relationships with these loving, faithful animals, and how they change us as people. As Tomlinson puts it, ‘the leash pulls on both ends.’”
Ted Allen, host of Food Network’s Chopped


“Inspirational . . . I loved this book. I found myself sneak-reading it from the moment it came in the door. As with a sack of White Castle burgers, I hated to reach the end. . . . [Tomlinson] writes exceedingly well. . . . His clean and witty and punchy sentences, his smarts and his middle-class sensibility made me yearn for the kind of down-to-earth columnist I often read in the 1980s and 1990s but barely seems to exist any longer.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Powerful . . . A funny and moving account of what life is like for someone who carries extra weight.”
Garden & Gun

“A beautiful book . . . The man can write . . . For anyone who has ever loved a person of not just a few extra pounds but 100 or more—and wondered, ‘How the heck did that happen?’—it will make you understand in a way you didn’t before.”
—Judith Newman, The New York Times Book Review

The Elephant in the Room . . . is for anyone who’s struggled with their weight, who’s struggled with addiction, or for the people who love them.”
Salisbury Post

“This book deserves all the rave reviews that are pouring in. It’s funny and poignant and life-affirming. . . . An acclaimed journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tomlinson can write like nobody’s business.”
Traverse City Record Eagle

“Add this to your reading list ASAP.”
Charlotte Magazine

The Elephant in the Room is more than a memoir of an ever-supersizing America. It’s a love story. It’s also a whipsmart history of working-class America, where the fast-food line is long and a weary mother’s love is shown in third helpings of cornbread and butter beans. Tommy Tomlinson’s singular voice—of journalist, Southerner, son, and of a husband who knows how lucky he is—is at turns punchy and poetic, heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud, and full of language so authentically fresh it needs no sell-by date. I could not turn the pages fast enough.”
—Beth Macy, author of Dopesick

“I just read a wonderful book: The Elephant in the Room by Tommy Tomlinson. It’s about his extreme weight struggles and also about family, marriage, class, journalism, the South, and food. It’s warm and funny and honest and painful and poignant. I found it genuinely unputdownable.”
—Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep and American Wife, on Twitter