“The Dog Who Came To Stay: A Memoir” by Hal Borland

If, like me, you are fond of dogs, this book, first published in 1961, will definitely appeal to you. “The Dog Who Came To Stay: A Memoir” by Hal Borland is the story of how a stray black and white foxhound whom they called Pat and a black pup of perhaps setter blood whom they called Mike entered the lives of the author and his wife Barbara. They first appeared on a cold and snowy Christmas night sometime during the 1950s when they lived in a secluded 100 acre farm in the wilder areas of North West Connecticut.

Being dog lovers, Borland and his wife took in Pat and Mike without any hesitation. They after all led a rather lonely life in the isolated farm enjoying the rugged landscape and being close to nature in the Housatonic Valley. They did make efforts to find out if anyone had reported these dogs as being missing. However, no one responded to their advertisements in the local newspapers and other attempts to find their owners. Gradually, as the dogs settled into a routine they became part of the Borland family.

Pat seemed to be well trained and in their estimate was a young adult of around four years. Mike was perhaps a year old, less groomed and therefore more boisterous and less well behaved. Soon Mike led Pat into a fight with a bobcat and ran away leaving Pat to scrap it out on his own. The battle resulted in Pat getting severely injured and he was nursed back to good health over the next two weeks by the author and his wife. After a year or so, Mike was becoming too much to handle so he was given away to a neighbor who wanted a pet for his little boy.

This left Pat alone with the Borlands and the book has many delightful anecdotes of Pat and his life with them over the next eight years.  Borland writes beautifully of life in the wilds, of the rabbit hunts, the stray bears, and nature in its different forms across the seasons. And of course about Pat!  The relationship between a man and his dog is a special one, which only dog lovers will truly understand. Never could the author and Barbara hope to see a more affectionate , loyal and steadfast friend than Pat. We discover that dogs, like human beings, have distinct personalities of their own. They too have  their likings, and their preferences, be it for food or a place to sleep and call their own.

All in all, this was a most enjoyable book. I would heartily recommend it to every dog lover even if they don’t own dogs of their own.