Sunday 17 April 2016

Book ~ "The Book of Joe: About a Dog and His Man" (2016) Vincent Price

From Goodreads ~ Actor Vincent Price won acclaim for his performances as a menacing villain in dozens of macabre horror films, such as "House of Wax". Less well known, though, is Price’s lifelong love of animals, especially his fourteen-year-old mutt, Joe. From his wife’s passion for poodles to film set encounters with all types of creatures, including goats, apes and camels, Price’s life was full of furry, four-legged friends. But it was Joe who truly captured his heart. Intelligent, courageous, and devoted to his owner, Joe was a special dog with a personality all his own.

In this touching and light-hearted memoir, with a new introduction by Bill Hader and a preface by Vincent Price’s daughter, Victoria, Joe gets involved in all sorts of hijinks: At one point, the actor has to defend his canine companion in court! Despite some bad habits, like stealing guests’ shoes, pursuing lustful trysts with neighboring dogs, or belly flopping into the garden fishpond - crushing more than a few fish - Price loves his Joselito, whose unconditional loyalty more than makes up for his minor indiscretions. And when Price’s elderly cousin who comes to stay with him is stricken with cancer, Joe never leaves her side. Price’s tender and witty recollections of his time spent with Joe will bring joy to any animal lover’s heart.

I liked reading stories about animals and that's why this one caught my eye ... it was written by actor Vincent Price (1911 - 1993) about his then 14-year-old dog, Joe, and was originally published in 1961 (it's been recently updated with an intro by actor Bill Hader and a preface by Price's daughter, Victoria).

Price was an animal lover and tells about all the animals he'd had in his life including Albert, a Siamese cat he adopted while living in London; his son's two LOUD roosters; Prudence, his second wife's poodle; and more.  The focus of the book is Joe, a mutt he adopted from a pet store over the Christmas holidays.  He got Joe in a down period of his life.  He stated that when women are down, they "buy new hats and perfume".  When men are down, they "get a haircut,  His first marriage had just broken up; his wife, son and their family dog had moved out; and his other dog had gotten hit by a car and died.  Joe became a special dog to Price.

There are illustrations throughout the book by Leo Hershfield.

In line at the pet shop where Price found Joe.  Source
There's Joe!  Source

Price even had to go to court to defend Joe was he was sued for $13,000 (about $220,000 in today's dollars) by a plastered plasterer who charged that Joe ran out in front of his bike, causing him to fall and get hurt.


Given that it was written more than 50 years ago, the writing style is different ... it's more formal and alliterative, yet funny at times.  For example, Price said that he was a quick eater and describes himself as a "fast finisher of food".  He used words such as "nomenclature" and "umbrage".  He described his cat, Albert's scratching of his couch as "... Albert proceeded to crochet the furniture into an interesting, over-all terry-cloth texture".

Having a dog and cat in the 1950s and 1960s was different than it is today.  Price had a doggy door which Joe would go in and out of.  It wouldn't be unusual for Joe to disappear for up to four days when he was in search of female dogs in heat.  And it doesn't sound like anyone neutered their dogs.  When we meet Joe, he is fourteen-years-old and unneutered.  The Prices had friends who lived nearby and Joe impregnated their dog not once but twice, producing 16 pups in total ... no one seemed bothered about it.

The Vincent Price Family Legacy will donate a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Fund for Animals.

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