This winsome book tells stories of dogs the author has known, mostly those with whom he has spent his long and eventful life. “We grew old together,” he writes about his dog Nellie. “We wore down the same path, constant companions.” Nellie suffered cancer (it took her left eye), and she limped after three surgeries on her back legs. But in the end, she teaches Hersch Wilson something about life and death.

After Nellie, who was a big dog, comes stories of smaller dogs, including a Chihuahua.

Sometimes there are what Wilson calls “dog lessons,” such as this: “Question everything, especially if it results in the suffering of any being.”

Other dog lessons are found in special sections at the end of chapters. Two that we found most important were “The Importance of Touch” and “How to Not Get into a Fight” (see the excerpt accompanying this review for a sample from this last one).

There are several touchpoints with religious traditions and religious teachers here. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov makes an appearance in the final chapter called “The World Is a Very Narrow Bridge.” Wilson adds his own commentary to Rabbi Nachman’s classic teaching that life is a narrow bridge and we should try not to be afraid; Wilson says, among other things, that each of us gets only “One crossing, one life.” And, “Our crossing is the most intimate of strivings.” Don’t be afraid. And, “Every day we have the choice. Day by day. Step by step.” Why not “Cross it with a dog”? It helps, Wilson explains here and elsewhere.

Thich Nhat Hanh is here too. He said, “People say that walking on water is a miracle, but to me, walking peacefully on the Earth is the real miracle.” Wilson adds, among other things: “I have found that walking peacefully on the earth with dogs is … a profound experience, if we pay attention.”