A house with dogs has always seemed like home to David Daigneault. Born in 1954 and raised in the Quebec countryside there was always a dog around the old house, occasionally two. Sometimes the dogs even precede memory.
“I don’t remember this but there is a picture in a family album of me in a baby carriage with a big, burly German Shepherd mix standing guard beside me. My mother used to tell me that the dog, Tippy, would growl if any strangers came around.”
Tippy, the German Shepherd mix, Lassie the Border Collie, Duke the Boxer, Buffy the Heinz 57, all of them had personal stories to tell and David was a good listener growing up. There was lots of body language from the dogs and sometimes the occasional vocal outburst. There was a visceral connection between those dogs and David’s life. He took the connection for granted then. Only later would David remember how important it was.
Then, suddenly, dogs were no longer an intimate part of David’s life. He left home to attend a small-town university and graduated clueless in the wide-open world of opportunity.
“I knew I always wanted to be a writer but early on in my life I couldn’t figure out how to get there. I didn’t realize I needed patience. I didn’t realize a lot of things.”
A steady stream of meaningless jobs and then the jackpot. A TV producer’s job. In nightly news, journalism, with all its many faces of sadness and triumph. But it meant writing. Lots of it. David produced stories about life in the community. Sometimes the stories were about dogs. Hero dogs, stray dogs, vicious dogs, police dogs and therapy dogs. When those stories would go to air there was always a nostalgic reminder for David of those earlier hounds, of their devotion, and the treasured place they occupied in his life and memory.
Later on, when life was settled and it seemed like there was more time in the day somehow, David’s wife asked if they could get a puppy. It was a question that kept being asked until the answer came. David said “Only if I can choose the breed.”
When that little German Shepherd puppy came through the door, he brought the long dormant, canine connection alive again. The old country house didn’t exist anymore, the parents were long gone, but the eight-week-old puppy somehow brought that old feeling of comfort with him. The German Shepherd Dog named Cody, filled a gap that David hadn’t realized was there. It was like being back with all those older dogs again, walking the country hills and chasing rabbits. It was like a spring day with the smell of new beginnings in the air.
So, when the opportunity came to write ‘The Complete Guide to German Shepherds’ it seemed like karma had landed on the doorstep for David. Writing a book about dogs wasn’t a job, it was a labor of love. It was a connection to the familiar.
It was like going home again.