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Travel book review: Eileen Barish’s Doin’ series

I don’t know Eileen Barish, but I want her life: the dates of her books listed on Amazon indicate that she spent a number of years writing dog travel books (the Doin’ series), then changed direction and started a series of guidebooks about lodging in various European countries’ monasteries (punctuated, a couple of years ago, with a book about “luxury resort and destination spas” in the U.S.). How fun!

This post talks about her Doin’ series (the titles are in the form “Doin’ [name of state] with Your Pet“), which addresses traveling with your dog in Arizona (2004), California (2002), New York (1997), the Pacific Northwest (2002) and Texas (2004). I own two of them (New York and the Pacific Northwest), but they aren’t my favorite dog-oriented guidebooks.

The organization leaves something to be desired. For example, the Manhattan section of Doin’ New York begins with a couple of dog-tolerant parks, shifts to the Brooklyn Bridge walk, then returns to the park theme and talks about six more dog-tolerant parks before suddenly throwing in a general description of Greenwich Village, followed by another dog-tolerant park (both of the parks bracketing the Greenwich Village entry are in the Washington Heights neighborhood, some distance away from the Village). Then it’s on to a description of a number of self-guided walking tours around Manhattan. And so on. There’s some good information in these pages, but it’s hard to access, and it doesn’t help that there’s no map showing where all these features are located. In fairness, it should be said that Doin’ the Northwest is less chaotic, though still entirely lacking in useful maps; even an indication of what neighborhood a particular park or activity is located in would be a help.

The final 100 pages of Doin’ New York and Doin’ the Northwest are largely padding. A few of the subchapters are helpful, but there’s a lot of fluff (e.g., 29 Tips for Travel Safety, including “When driving at night, stay on the main roads;” 11 Tips that Take the Stress out of Vacations, including “If you have an unpleasant task to do, take care of it early in the day;” etc.).

And after a very short while, the author’s adorable and relentless puns and word play grated on my nerves. As a demonstration, I have just opened Doin’ New York at random. On page 426, in one brief paragraph about the Frick Pond-Loggers Loop Trail Hike (wherever that may be), you meet with the following phrases: “will leave you barking for more,” “You and the wet wagger,” “afternoon with your furry friend,” and “the tweet sounds of nature.” I’m a sap, but…damn.

On balance, not a waste of money, but hard to use. I would only buy these books for the areas that aren’t covered by the Dog Lover’s Companion series, namely, Arizona, upstate New York, and Texas.

Amazon links:
Doin’ Arizona With Your Pooch
Doin’ California with Your Pooch
Doin’ New York With Your Pooch
Doin the Northwest With Your Pooch
Doin’ Texas With Your Pooch

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