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Confessions of an Extreme Dog Lover

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For her book, Ambassador Dogs (Schiffer, 160 pages), Berwyn’s Lisa Loeb traveled the five-county area searching for compelling canine tales—everything from stirring rescue efforts to dogs riding in elevators. Loeb writes of the painful loss of her beagle-terrier mix, Zappa, and the recent adoption of Layla, a 10-month-old cockapoo. Her book features 24 dogs and includes 175 beautiful photos. The former journalist was first inspired by a 2008 trip to Italy, where dogs roam freely. It rekindled her childhood interest in these “ambassadors” and their uncanny ability to bridge the gap between humans.

MLT: Why do you call yourself an “extreme dog lover”?

LL: For me, it’s someone who tunes in to dogs and notices the finer notes in their communication, body language, posture and expression. I’ve been attracted to them my entire life, so it’s second nature to observe. Being a journalist, my curiosity leads me to take a step further. If I see a special flicker, I step in and ask questions. One of the book’s first dogs was sitting in the front seat of a car. We were stopped in traffic, and his look was amazing, so I had to motion the woman to pull over. Surprisingly, she did, and I got a great story about a birthday-boy Lab.

MLT: What can dogs teach us?

LL: Infinite lessons in life. For me, the sense of fun and adventure is in every walk or hike you take. There’s the patience to understand one another, and to comfort with a gentle presence. And a big one: just teaching all of us to be in the present moment, to smell the smells, feel the sunshine on your coat, and enjoy a yummy meal.

MLT: Are dogs more privileged ambassadors on the Main Line than elsewhere?

LL: They seem to have a good life here. Many people take advantage of the area’s dog parks and other first-rate facilities. 

MLT: What’s on your doggie wish list?

LL: For people to spay and neuter, and this seems to be more prevalent in some areas of the country. In our state, puppy mills are on the decline. More people are aware of making sure they know where their purebred comes from. The rescue movement is strong, and I hope it continues. As I say frequently, “Cheers for the dogs.” Take them with you when you can; teach them manners; and take lots of walks.

MLT: Any sequels or other projects in the works?

LL: I’ve already written three chapters for my next book (Animal Ambassadors), and I have a parrot that wants to be interviewed. I need a publisher who can offer some funds up-front, in order to continue this project. In the meantime, I’d love to take on another ghostwriting job or coauthor project. I also have my eye on an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee that I’d like to visit and write about. 

Visit lisaloebwriter.wordpress.com.

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