2016-12-29 / Editorial

Hard days by the book

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by Melanie Taylor Coombs

On Dec. 15 my beloved dog Elphie passed away. For more than 20 years, I have rescued dogs. The mutts in my original pack were shelter puppies. Raised with lots of structure and a loving environment, all became good canine citizens. As the years wore on, my rescues were distinctively needier. There was Cassie, the standard poodle with seizures and an allergy to grass. I can’t forget Miss Lady, a Benji look alike who would bite your hand if she deemed you a threat. There was also “New Dog,” nee Gidget, nee Dixie, nee Sophie the multiple-home, street dog with medical issues and the physical power of a runaway freight train; part Basset, part Rottweiler, this goofy, short legged, New Dog, dislocated my clavicle and stayed “temporarily” for four years.

Through my years of dog rescuing I have learned many things. Chiefly that the rescue road is rarely easy and secondly that allowing a member of your family to cross the Rainbow Bridge is absolutely heart wrenching. This time, however, I learned two important new things. First, that being surrounded by the compassion of my wonderful colleagues at McArthur Library is a blessing. Secondly, that being immersed in books is tremendous consolation.

Agatha Raisin is a very flawed literary character written by M.C. Beaton. In her first escapade she buys a gourmet quiche and passes it off as her own creation at a church fete. Unfortunately the quiche poisons someone and mayhem ensues. There are 28 books in the Agatha Raisin series. I had been downloading the books in order from the Maine Download Library when my Elphie got gravely ill and reading them has been a tremendous comfort.

The Agatha Raisin series is one I had always avoided because I am not a huge fan of cozy mysteries and I had heard from other readers that the busy-body Agatha was an annoying character. Then why are they such a comfort? I’ve given this some thought. I’m flawed too, so reading about the exploits of an equally flawed character makes me feel a bit better about my penchant for weird dogs and gummy candy. Since the books are considered cozy, there aren’t any gruesome details or psychological analysis; I can just enjoy the simple story.

This holiday season I also turned to David Rosenfelt’s new Andy Carpenter story “The Twelve Dogs of Christmas,” to keep my spirits up, and the 12 dogs are all puppies. If you need a laugh this holiday season, definitely give this series a try. Rosenfelt’s wit will definitely give you a giggle.

Finally, I need to take a moment to thank the wonderful staff and McArthur Library not only for covering my schedule but also for providing emotional support. Many people will struggle with their own emotions during holiday seasons and I can assure you that all are welcome at the library. Together we can make 2017 the best year ever. Try our snowshoes from our recreation collection. Grab a Pilates DVD to get in shape or read a light mystery to help you get through a hard time. Best wishes from McArthur Library for a bright and happy 2017.

P.S. Elphie’s full name was Elphias Doge, named after a member of the Order of the Pheonix and obituary writer for Albus Dumbledore.

Melanie Taylor Coombs is adult services supervisor/ librarian at McArthur Public Library in Biddeford.

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