An A–Z of Exceptional Dogs

By Mikita Brottman

[Previously published as ‘The Great Grisby’]

In this charming bestiary of exceptional dogs, Mikita Brottman reflects on the role dogs play in our world, all explored through her relationship with her dog Grisby and many other examples of the dogs of great writers and artists from literature, lore, and life.

While gradually unveiling her eight-year love affair with her French bulldog, Grisby, Mikita Brottman ruminates on the singular bond between dogs and humans. Why do prevailing attitudes warn us against loving our pet “too much”? Is her relationship with Grisby nourishing or dysfunctional, commonplace or unique? Challenging the assumption that there’s something repressed and neurotic about those deeply connected to a dog, she turns her keen eye on the many ways in which dog is the mirror of man.

The Great Grisby is organised into twenty-six alphabetically arranged chapters, each devoted to a particular human-canine union drawn from history, art, philosophy, or literature. Here is Picasso’s dachshund Lump; Freud’s chow Yofi; Bill Sikes’s mutt Bull’s Eye in Oliver Twist; and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s spaniel Flush, whose biography was penned by Virginia Woolf. There are royal dogs, like Prince Albert’s greyhound Eos, and dogs cherished by authors, like Thomas Hardy’s fox terrier, Wessex. Brottman’s own beloved Grisby serves as an envoy for sniffing out these remarkable companions.

Quirky and delightful, and peppered with incisive personal reflections and back-and-white sketches portraying a different dog and its owner, The Great Grisby reveals how much dogs have to teach us about empathy, happiness, love—and what it means to be human.

Format: Paperback
Release Date: 22 Oct 2015
Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0-00-754807-1
Mikita Brottman, Ph.D, is an Oxford educated scholar, psychoanalyst, and cultural critic. She is the author of seven books, including Offensive Films and The Solitary Vice: Against Reading. She is professor of Humanistic Studies at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

”'Utterly delightful and beautifully written…The Great Grisby is a wide-ranging account of dogs in literature, history and folklore, yet the greatest pleasure of this wonderful book is reading about the author's love for Grisby. You will completely forgive the fact that the she is besotted. Why should she not be? Her descriptions of the two of them spending the day quietly at home is mesmerising in its ability to remind us of the simple pleasure of hanging together, dog and person. No dog lover will find fault with it” - Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of BEASTS and DOGS NEVER LIE ABOUT LOVE

”'Learn how dogs have enriched the lives of poets, artists, kings, writers, and many other notable people in this fascinating book about dogs in literature and history. Who knew that Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, unknowingly had the first therapy dog? The Great Grisby is a wonderful book about the special bond between humans and dogs” - Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human

”'An amazing array of information … If you enjoy history and animals you will find this to be an unusual treat” - Seattle Post-Intelligencer

”'Brottman employs her training as an Oxford educated scholar, critic and psychoanalyst to plumb the depths and breadth of this ancient friendship” - Bark Magazine