Dogs are my favourite. I want to meet (and hug) every last one of 'em, but since that isn’t possible I’ll settle for devouring as many dog pics as I can get my eyeballs on.
Which is where THE DOGIST [Amazon | The Book Depository] comes in. Before it was a book, The Dogist was a social media project run by Elias Weiss Friedman, a New Yorker who wanted something like The Sartorialist to showcase all the dogs he met on the street. I discovered it when Clare retweeted one of Friedman’s photos, and that was that. Of course I was gonna follow the hell out of this account.
And as soon as I learned an assortment of Friedman’s photos were slated for collection, I knew I had to get my hands on the book.
Now I'm pleased to report THE DOGIST is every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be. If you share my love for dogs, you must seek it out.
Friedman begins with a brief introduction explaining how he became a chronicler of all things canine, his process when he meets a new subject, and a few of the things he’s discovered as he photographs dogs all over the world. After that, the photos become the book's abiding focus.
Friedman lets the pictures speak for themselves, with the occasional quote from a dog's person or a blurb about the different activities dogs engage in, like field trials or service vocations. The pictures appear in thematic groupings with captions informing readers of each dog’s name, breed, and age (when the dog’s person knows these details; some of the dogs were rescued as adults and have mysterious pasts). Each grouping contains anywhere from three dogs to twenty, and focuses on such unifying traits as broad smiles, expressive ears, participation in a particular sport, New York attitude, or notable size. Some of the dogs were still searching for their forever homes when Friedman photographed them as part of his Give A Dog A Bone program.
And of course, there are a great many puppies spread out at intervals throughout the book lest their adorability overwhelm the reader.
Or--horror of horrors--should their tiny faces begin to blend together. Perhaps the funnest thing about this extremely fun book is that this never, ever happens. Friedman excels at capturing each subject’s unique personality, and he's curated the photos for maximum effect. Maybe these two dogs are both missing their left eye, or this pair chews their tennis balls with the same gusto, but they're still unmistakably themselves. The same is true of each of the dogs who appear in the book’s periodic group shots, even when Friedman highlights dogs from breeds with standard colouring.
If THE DOGIST has a message, it’s that dogs are as varied and interesting as the people who care for them.
On the design front, it took me a little while to get used to the grids Friedman uses to display the pictures; however, I’m sure my confusion stemmed from format rather than design failure. I received a digital review copy and had to page back and forth between many of the images and the captions that described them; an essential step for anyone invested in learning more about each dogs. This shouldn’t be an issue in print, so I’ll encourage you to get a paper copy of THE DOGIST over a digital edition if you possibly can.
And trust me: you want to make an effort to find this one. I grinned my way through it and finished it with a much lighter heart thanks to the time I spent with these fabulous dogs (and the occasional pig, chicken, or wolf).