When life goes to the dogs, author figures things are looking up

Dog aficionado J.D. Rogers didn't cast his lot with Barack Obama during the general election.

"I voted third party," says the Applegate Valley resident. "But since he has been elected, I'll give him my support. I always give them a year to show what they can do."

But Rogers is mightily impressed with the fact the president-elect has promised a pooch for his young daughters when the first family moves into the White House.

"In my view, people who like dogs and treat them well, that's an indication of good character," Rogers says. "If you can give love to an animal, that shows more of an open heart than someone who shuns animals."

Based on that measurement, Rogers, 57, has a heart as big as a St. Bernard.

His love of four-footed friends romps with its tail wagging throughout his book, "Ramblin' Rants and Doggie Tales," recently published by Odyssey Press of Fallbrook, Calif.

The 151-page paperback also is a furry hoot that will keep you in stitches. It's a fun read. In fact, if you don't laugh out loud at the acknowledgements alone by the gifted storyteller, you are severely humor challenged.

And that's before you dig into the compilation of humorous and insightful commentaries that Rogers has written in the past 14 years as editor of what is now the Applegater newspaper in the Applegate Valley.

The $16.95 book is available at amazon.com, Terra Firma in Jacksonville and several wineries in the Applegate Valley. You can check it out at www.ramblinrants.net.

You'll meet Boogie, Bentley, Tuesday, Utah and Doo Doo the wonder dog, as well as his wife, affectionately known as "my bride Sioux." There are doggie run-ins with skunks, a canine that wears glasses, a mutt that swaggers alongside John Wayne.

But be forewarned: Do not read the "Creatures from Hell or huge hairball" if you have a weak heart. You could die howling with laughter.

It isn't all humor. There is the very poignant reminiscence of his survival of the 1963 collapse of the coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, which killed 74 people, including his grandparents. He recalled his grandmother asking for help that he was unable to render as an injured 11-year-old.

Yet Rogers focuses on the funny side of life, even when it comes to battling prostate cancer.

"The only way I could write about it was with humor," he explains. "Everything in our lives today is too serious. There isn't enough laughing."

When it comes to dogs, Rogers would readily admit to being a mad dog.

"Dogs are entertaining," he says. "Nothing is so relaxing as sitting down with a dog on your lap. When I had my surgery, Tuesday stayed by me all the time when I got home. He would not leave my side."

Given the challenges he faces, Obama will need a first pooch to relax with in those rare quiet moments, Rogers says.

"It would be good to see a dog running around on the old White House lawn, either with the kids or with Obama tossing him a ball," he says.

He's impressed with Obama's self-deprecating, humorous comment about getting a dog from a local animal rescue shelter.

" ... A lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me," Obama observed at a news conference early this month, when asked about getting a dog.

A mixed breed would be an excellent selection, Rogers suggests.

"The best luck I've had with dogs were ones that were abandoned or dumped," he says "Doo Doo the wonder dog was a Heinz 57 with Australian shepherd in him. They are incredibly smart. Of course, it could be I'm not so smart."

Rogers, a bright fellow by any measure, started writing in high school, albeit for a rock 'n' roll band he helped form. He took up the guitar after breaking his ribs in football.

Actually, he and school didn't mesh real well. In his book, he notes the principal suggested it would be best for all if the lanky lad quit school. Yet he did graduate, continued to play in bands and expanded his writing.

"I wasn't all that hot with punctuation," he says of his beginning writing, then adds, "But, hey, dogs do run-on barks all the time."

Come next June, Rogers will attend his 40th high school reunion back in Indiana.

The fact he now is an author will shock his Hoosier childhood chums, he acknowledges.

"That will totally amaze them," he says. "They'll say, 'J.D. wrote a book? Wasn't he the guy sitting in the corner all the time?' That just goes to show you anything is possible in America."

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.

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