Article published on June 18, 2011.
Based on a fortnightly column in the Telegraph that Edward Stourton wrote for several years, Diary of a Dog Walker is a worthwhile addition to the pet memoir canon. Stourton acquired Kudu, an English Springer Spaniel, while he was still presenting The Today Programme on Radio 4, on the basis that he was mostly out of the house while the rest of his family was at home, and vice versa – but when he was replaced on Today, he suddenly had a need for a new job that allowed him to meet his ‘parental’ responsibilities. A newspaper column based on dog ownership was an ideal solution.
Stourton is an accomplished and experienced journalist, and while he sometimes gives way to whimsical flights of fancy (including giving Kudu his voice on occasion), most of his columns are serious journalistic endeavours, touching on many aspects of dog ownership, both serious and silly. The book is not just collected columns, there is a reasonable amount of new material too, on everything from dogs in war to the etiquette of dog walking in London.
Devoted dog owners will recognise many of the behaviours, exploits and emotions described – relations with other dogs and their owners, inappropriate behaviour, doggy thought-processes and the place of the dog within the household, and so on. Stourton is a genuinely warm and engaging writer who clearly loves his canine companion, despite his (relatively few) faults, and this little book is a tasty treat for dog owners and dog lovers. The column was discontinued after two years, which is a shame, but I am sure Edward and Kudu will be around and about the parks of Brixton and Clapham for many happy years to come.