Winston Salem, NC: John F. Blair. (2016) First Edition. Unsigned. As new in dust jacket.
In The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge, award-winning nationally
syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson tells her life's story
through tender tales of her canine friends. This touching memoir uses
Johnson's beloved dogs as metaphors for love, loss, and life alongside
eccentric neighbors, friends, and three husbands.
for newspapers ages you exponentially; it's like dog years," Rheta
says. Readers follow her as a starry-eyed newlywed starting a weekly
newspaper on Georgia's exotic St. Simons Island, through stints at
various other Southern newspapers, and finally to her writing life in
remote and dog-friendly Fishtrap Hollow, MS. That's the dateline for her
long-running column and the place Rheta has called home for almost 30
years, despite growing up "a girl of curbs and gutters, not creeks and
Along the way, readers meet Rheta's eccentric
neighbors, her friends, her three husbands, and-best of all-her dogs.
She introduces Monster, "a big galoot of a mutt, the variegated color of
a hand-knitted sweater a dour aunt might give you for Christmas";
Humphrey, who spent much of one night in an apartment complex "patiently
lining stolen shoes up at our back door like a clearance rack at
Payless"; Mabel (pronounced May-Belle), the first of the dogs to be
buried "over the bridge" in Rheta's sad little dog cemetery, who was "so
beautiful that it never really mattered how much toilet paper she
shredded, whose hairbrush she destroyed, where she sat or slept. . . .
Scolding Mabel would have been stomping a rose"; and Pogo and Albert,
who taught Rheta that "grief can kill you, whatever your species. It
isn't pretty, and it's a walk you must take alone." There are other dogs
as well, for hers has been a life that measures its quality in canines.
claims that she finds it "harder and harder to separate the humans from
the dogs. That would be like separating the past from the present, or
memory from reality. Certain dogs are so much a part of life with
certain people at certain places that I cannot make a distinction. Why
bother, anyway? Maybe all we are is an amalgamation of the animals we
have loved, the things they have taught us. Certainly, we learn more
from them than they do from us."