My Lucky Dog
William Morrow (2008)
Reviewed by Nikki Pringle for Reader Views (6/08)
With “My Lucky Dog,” photographer turned author Mellon Tytell, uses stunning imagery and brief captions as a poignant goodbye to her beloved dog. Hunter, a mixed-breed stray that Tytell found through an ad at a pet store in Vermont, became her constant companion and the “love of her life” for the thirteen years he was hers. Tytell’s background as a photographer in breathtaking locations like Paris, the Andes, Haiti, and the Himalayas served her well as she took roll after roll of film capturing Hunter’s adventures at her homes in New York and Vermont.
While the words enhance Hunter’s story, it is really the pictures that tell the tale. Tytell has captured her dog’s every mood, from sadness to playfulness to pure joy, with absolute clarity. She finds the perfect words to augment the array of snapshots she has chosen to share. In one portion of the book, a variety of photos of the Vermont landscape are laid out next to close-ups of Hunter’s fur from different angles, and it is amazing to see how closely these two very different things seem to synch up in color and texture.
Tytell also incorporates images that are not of her dog but serve well in telling his story, like the haunting photo of a bird flying through the trees over a foggy dirt road, accompanied by the caption “He could no longer sit. His spinal cord wasn’t sending messages to his paws.” The combination of these words with the photo lends visual perspective to the fact that Hunter is preparing to “fly away” from his beloved owner.
Mellon Tytell has accomplished her goal of giving a more than fitting tribute to the animal that was more than just a pet; he was a part of the family. While the book is not marketed for children, I do think it is suited to those that are a little older and dealing with the impending or recent loss of a family pet. All animal lovers, especially those with a canine companion that they could not imagine their lives without, will be moved by Hunter’s story in “My Lucky Dog,” by Mellon Tytell.