The Ideal Dog and Other Delusions


192 pages
ISBN 1-55017-150-X
DDC C818'.5402






Illustrations by Greta Guzek
Reviewed by R. Gordon Moyles

R.G. Moyles is a professor of English at the University of Alberta, and
the co-author of Imperial Dreams and Colonial Realities: British Views
of Canada, 1880–1914.


Originally written for radio, these hundred sketches are reflections on
and anecdotes about rural life. They range from the trivial to the very
thoughtful, and comment on everything from chickens (their versatility
and utility) to woodpiles (they always fall over); from barn cats (pure
trouble) to ideal dogs (they don’t exist); from cussing to estate
cars; from Uncle Paul’s outhouse to Hetti Edberg’s bee; from mud
room to tobacco. A sample: “At the centre of what is optimistically
called our downtown, there is a café. And in that café is a table near
the door, where a group of men, including Metchosin’s oldest active
pioneer, gather each morning for coffee. It’s called the Table of
Truth. Early this fall, I was in the café having coffee and pretending
to read the Globe and Mail when I overheard a conversation—and I know
it’s right because I wrote it down—from the Table of Truth. It was
about a way of killing a goose, with a fish net, binder twine and claw
hammer. The man doing the telling demonstrated with a knife and
creamers.” It sounds a little like something from The Red Green Show,
and occasionally it is just as funny—but only occasionally. Mostly it
is just mildly amusing and warmhearted (but monotonous if you have to
consume a hundred of them at one sitting). As for the “sagacious
insights” suggested by one reviewer—well, now and then, perhaps, but
mostly these are anecdotes that simply remind us of the “quirks and
quarks” of real life and that (though we are happy to be reminded)
change us not a whit. The kind of book doctors should keep in their
reception rooms for pleasant reading before anxiety-provoking tests.


Henry, Tom., “The Ideal Dog and Other Delusions,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024,