clementina

“I was starting to doubt that I’d ever enjoy canine company again, and you being a twelve-week old Border Terrier pup like me made our meeting especially good.”

A chance meeting between two twelve-week-old puppies in a Manchester park leads to a series of letters from young Stanley to his new friend Clementina. Based on true events viewed through canine eyes, this work is a collection of that correspondence, and reflects upon the quirky world of humans, dogs and the interaction between the two.
With a comic perception that is perhaps only afforded to innocent observers, each letter stands alone as a testimony to Stanley’s efforts to comprehend the mysteries of life that confront young pups in their carefree progress throughout their first year. From human vanity to intrusive vets to pesky cats, from basic bodily functions to the high-blown appreciation of modern art, Stanley keeps Clementina in the picture as he steers his way relentlessly, if not always smoothly, through the challenges that life throws at him, culminating in his first birthday party.
In this deliciously humorous work, wittily illustrated by W.H. Mather, readers will delight not only in recognising their own pets, but also themselves and their fellow dog walkers. But you don’t have to be a dog-owner to appreciate Stanley’s letters as their comedy will appeal to everybody. And anybody contemplating getting a puppy should take advantage of Stanley’s wit and insight to help them in taking that fateful step of joining the ranks of the dog-owning fraternity. Pick up Stanley’s narrative and immerse yourself in the humorous, blossoming friendship of two adorable Border Terrier puppies!

Many thanks to Publishing Push for this review copy!

As a terrier lover I was quite eager to read this, and I wasn’t disappointed. Stanley is a curious and down to earth puppy, showing why Border Terriers are so lovable!

Stanley writes on a regular basis to his friend Clementina, describing household events and other adventures. It’s quite funny to read about things from a dog’s eye view (sock chewing, a trip to the vet for neutering, barking, butt sniffing) and it’s amusing to consider the stories as an accurate representation of a canine thought process.

Burke makes the little dog come alive with his stories – Stanley is a roll-with-the-punches, always cheerful puppy with a giant personality. It was so easy to picture him talking in the park with his other canine pals about chasing rabbits and squirrels.

Each chapter is another “letter”, detailing what has happened since Clementina and Stanley last got together. The reader never hears from Clementina, a tactic that places Stanley firmly in the reader’s mind as the sole voice. To me, this was a great way to write the book; having two dogs write back and forth may have increased the cutesy factor too high and made it into a caricature. The humans in the book have their actions and foibles magnified in a smile inducing way:  beer consumption, anger at chewed up socks, and long walks are all confounding things when seen through Stanley’s eyes. Human customs that are familiar to us all will seem new and foreign, accomplishing exactly what the author intended: just because we understand what we want our dogs to do, it may not be easy for them to grasp it.

Anyone who is thinking about getting a puppy should read this, so they will be educated and amused at the same time. Many Border Terrier owners will shriek with knowing laughter as they share Stanley’s adventures.  Stanley loves to jump up – maybe a bit too much; when his owners suggest a nice long walk he notes:

In fact I jumped a little too high, to tell the truth, and knocked Colin’s mug of tea out of his hand, but it only took him one minute to stop cursing and another two to change his soggy trousers, so no real harm done.

The novella can be read in a single sitting, or enjoyed bit by bit. The writing style truly reads like a series of friendly missives, and I could sense the fondness Stanley had for his best friend Clementina. The love Burke has for his real life dogs is evidenced on each page as well.

DEAR CLEMENTINA is a sweet, funny, and smooth read. Dog lovers will see bits of their own pup in Stanley, and love them a little more after finishing this book!

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.