By: Bud Boccone
Ain’t it grand living in the 21st century, where everything worth knowing can be found in the time it takes to type a Google keyword?
That would be wonderful, if only it were true.
Fact is, digital technology is still in its infancy. Only a sliver of the world’s accumulated wisdom resides online. The time will come when all useful knowledge is digitized. Until then, serious people seeking trustworthy information will still often rely on books—musty, dusty, fuddy-duddy paper books. For this, research librarians hoping to be someday fully vested in their 401k plans are eternally grateful.
Consider the new Encyclopedia of K-9 Terminology, by Edward Gilbert Jr. and Patricia Gilbert, and illustrated by Dan Sayers. The publication of such a whopping-big reference work raises a valid question: Does our Whippet-quick e-world really need a galumphing Newfoundland of a book that tips the scales at 3.7 pounds? Spend just a few minutes flipping through its 815 pages and you’ll have to concede, the answer is yes.
There have been other such books. Harold Spira’s classic Canine Terminology and Ed Gilbert’s own K-9 Structure and Terminology come to mind. Both are authoritative, but neither is nearly as ambitious as the Gilberts’ labor of love. The Encyclopedia defines not just anatomical terms—which it does comprehensively—but also the lingo of the show ring, whelping box, grooming table, genetics lab, and veterinary office.
My favorite chapters explain terms associated with the various breeds and breed types. As a longtime AKC Publications editor, I’ve often encountered references to “quicksilver gait” (Briards), “varminty expression” (Scotties), and “intense birdiness” (Duck Tollers)—and I like to think I’d know these traits when I see them. But how helpful it is to have such hard-to-pin-down concepts defined with clarity and consummate dog sense.
A section on nicknames tells us the Keeshond is the “Lazy Man’s Glamour Dog,” the Treeing Walker Coonhound is the “People’s Choice,” and the Schnauzer is the “Dog with the Human Brain.”
No dog-related term, no matter how obscure or slangy, escapes the Gilberts’ detection. They inform us that “poi dog” is Hawaiian slang for a mixed-breed (poi is a dish that requires lots of mixing) and “Pigador” is a rude way of saying your Labrador is fat and short of leg. But if your Lab’s legs are too long, you might hear “Put a saddle on it!,” another ringside putdown defined with authority by the Gilberts.
To say there’s nothing like it on the Internet is unfair to the Internet. In truth, there’s nothing else like it between paper covers, either. The Encyclopedia of K-9 Terminology is a singular achievement.
When I’m this excited about something, I’ve been known to invoke the name of the Deity while singing its praises. Not wishing to offend the easily offended, I’ll simply shout to the rooftops Dog Almighty, what a book!
(Encyclopedia of K-9 Terminology, Dogwise Publishing, with forewords by Dennis Sprung, and John and Susan Hamil, is available wherever books are sold.)