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Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had Paperback – June 1, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"How we fall into grace. You can't work or earn your way into it. You just fall. It lies below, it lies beyond. It comes to you, unbidden," writes novelist and essayist Bass (Where the Sea Used to Be, etc.) of the arrival of his "goofy little knot-headed" genius of a pointing dog. As they roam the remote western Montana valley where Bass lives, and hunt the golden autumn plains in the eastern part of the state, Colter unfailingly ushers Bass into "an unexplored land" where the two become "as alive as we have ever been: our senses so sharp and whittled alive that we could barely stand it." Their prolonged hours of "wanting only one thing, a bird, wanting it so effortlessly and purely that [we] come the closest [we] will ever come to a shared language" are a blessing. But always, for Bass, there is the undertow of paradox: of living for the hunt but being a comically rotten marksman; of being a hunter yet an environmentalist; of his tendency to love with "a passion so intense it borders on gluttony," inevitably followed by the crushing numbness that marks the loss of what he loves. Bass's exhaustless appetite for natural beauty and his propensity for "bragging on" his dog occasionally lead to exuberant repetition ("It was just so damn great to be out in such open country with my dogs"), but more often result in luminously transcendent passages on the education and sorrowful loss of a brilliant and mischievous chocolate brown pointer that will transfix anyone who has ever loved a dog. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This delightful book is really a love story about the special bond and level of understanding that can exist between a man and his dog. It is also a story that celebrates nature, describing life in the Montana woods and the thrill of hunting in the never-ending fields at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. In his latest book, nature writer Bass (The Sky, the Stars, the Wilderness) tells the story of life with a very special hunting dog. Colter is the runt of the litter, and Bass ends up buying the pup because no one else wants him. But as he grows, Colter's instinct takes over, and his passion for hunting is unequalled. The dog's abilities are so outstanding that Bass, admittedly a poor shot, feels guilty when he misses a bird because he feels that he is letting his dog down. His enthusiasm is contagious and somewhat amusing: Bass loves to hunt, but does not particularly care whether he shoots anything; it is the thrill of watching his dog work that he finds exciting. Recommended for public libraries.
-DDeborah Emerson, Monroe Community Coll., Rochester, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (June 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618127364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618127368
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #649,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Sanuk on May 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a book about bird hunting and the author's partnership with a very special pointing dog. Being a non-hunter detracted not one bit from my appeciation of this exploration of the depths of the human-canine relationship. In fact, I have never encountered it done with such empathic insight. Rick Bass writes about emotions; his deep feelings for all living things, from turtles to ecosystems. But the focus is upon his intense love of dogs and of the intimate partnering with a dog that draws him to bird hunting. He confesses ambivalence about shooting birds, and does so mainly to reward Colter. He does quite a credible job of conveying to the reader the dog's side of the experience as well. If you love dogs of any breed, this is a "must read".
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I love this book! I think that anyone who loves dogs as much as I do will appreciate the sentiments of Rick Bass when he describes his beloved hunting dog, Colter. Although I have never owned a hunting dog, the pure and simple emotion evident in this book is somehow heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Great for dog lovers, hunters, and nature lovers.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By larryholdren@yahoo.com on July 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
For anyone who has ever truly loved a dog (if you have, you know what I'm talking about), this is a must read. If you're a bird hunter, this book has special significance. But even if your not, there's much here for you. Rick Bass is uniquely open with his feelings for a goofy German Shorthaired Pointer (aren't they all goofy?) named Colter. As anyone who has ever and loved a great dog knows, these types of animals are not perfect. In fact, their greatness comes from that lack of perfection -- their unique personlities that sometimes make you just grin and shake your head. Colter is just that kind of a dog and the way Rick Bass tells his story (and the story of their time together) is quite touching and even hillariously funny at times.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up this book for two reasons. 1) a friend has been haranguing me to read one of his books for years and 2) I just lost one of the greatest dogs you could ever meet.
I was really disappointed in the book. Truly, it has some really high points... operatic in the way things resonate-- in the best sense of the word. But he fails to keep the story in that wonderfully alive and deeply magic place. The place where I imagine a story about life with a great dog would have to take place.
In a strange way it almost seems like there's not really enough story there. Or maybe the wonders of chasing through the mists after his fabulous Colter are just too gossamer to live on the page.
While I believe Rick Bass has received immense praise for his ability to depict scenes so vividly I didn't find that to be true. There was something missing. The soul of the story when it came through was breathtaking but most of the time it wasn't there. I was just working my way through prose that wasn't very compelling and a story that was rather thin. I was awkwardly aware of the author and unable to find the continuous true thread of life in the story.
My condolences for the loss of his beloved dog.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jim Tenuto VINE VOICE on December 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book made me angry. It also made me laugh. Sometimes, "art" wrenches from us unexpected emotions and this is what Rick Bass was able to do in "Colter". Somehow Bass has the extraordinary good fortune to own a truly superb bird dog, a wunderkind of the field. Colter, named after the Montana mountain man, has boundless energy, a true passion for hunting, and an aura of "goofiness". Bass was hardly his ideal companion in the field. He was, and probably still is, a terrible shot. Bird dogs expect the hunter to hold up his or her end of the bargain. After pointing a bird, holding the bird, and then flushing the bird, is it too much to ask that you actually shoot the bird? In Bass' case, it was far too often too much to ask. But this honesty is endearing as well as frustrating. Despite these failures in the field, Colter remained a hunting fool. This is a book about passions. Bass is fortunate enough to hunt over 100 days a year, and wingshooting has obviously consumed him. And he is passionate about his dogs, though his obvious preference for Colter comes through time and again. The perfect dog, and the imperfect man.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I grew up in a house without a dog. 6 years ago my wife and I were given a puppy and my life was changed forever. This book truly draws out the emotions any one who has ever loved a dog feels about their "best friend". Rick Bass is a truly gifted writer (I have read another of his books)who has a tremendous ability to describe in detail the things that one's mind says to one's self. Those thoughts, reflections and feelings that we experience within our own soul are the true fabric of life that makes us human. Rick Bass has produced words that capture the essence of what it is to be bound to a dog (not own a dog--if anyone is doing the owning it is the dog). He describes so many things that every one who lives with a dog sees. Even the small details describing where Colter sleeps to the way his legs run when he is dreaming.
The pasage on page 31 says it all:
"When you live with a dog-when a dog is a member of your family-you learn soon enough to see the world at least partially through that dog's eyes: when to let it out, when to let it in, when to feed it, when it wants to play, when it is troubled....
With a hunting dog, you learn to pursue what it pursues. Generations of mankind before you might have worked to sculpt this streamlined (yet fluid, and still developing) creature that is now in your life, and now, not in generations but in just a few short years, the dog turns around and sculpts you."
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