Canine author answers questions from bookshop dogs for #IBW2016


Celebrating our bookshop dogs nationwide, debut canine author Maggie Mayhem (How to Look After Your Human: A Dog's Guide) answers their questions for Independent Bookshop Week.

Side note: did you see our 10 dogs that reside in independent bookshops post yesterday? 

Laika @ The Book Case, Hebden

Laika: My name is Laika, and I am the Bookshop Dog at The Book Case in Hebden Bridge.

 I would like to ask where Maggie stands on the question of new versus second hand books.   For me, its true that there’s a delicious rush to be had from the opening of a carton of fresh books, with that lovely new book smell, but I find that, as I get older (and perhaps more sophisticated), I prefer the olfactory ‘patina’ of a second hand book, with its evocation of many hands and many rooms.  More subtle than a new book, but somehow more rewarding.  Its a bit like the way I feel about the faithful old toys that my people seem unhappy to have on the sofa. 

 And as a supplementary.  I haven’t been able to try this myself, but is the character of books improved by a little light chewing, seeing as it works so well with toys?

Maggie: Well Laika, as you will know, smell is very important to all dogs but it’s an incredibly personal subject. My brother Rusty is completely illiterate, and I do sometimes wonder that if I could find books that smell of rotting fish then he’d perhaps be encouraged to give reading a go. I have to agree with you, I love the depth and body of an older scent. If you can get your paws on a book where the pages are turning ever so slightly yellow then I promise you won’t be disappointed.

And to answer your second question, I believe that a great book tells not just the story between its pages but also the one on its pages. So the odd bite mark along the spine does nothing but enhance the character in my opinion.  


Coco @ Aardvark Books, Bucknell

Coco: 1. Do you have any advice about how to train humans not to stretch their paws out over my head when they see me? I tell them I don’t like it and then they say “Oh, so she isn’t very sociable with people then” (I don’t answer that one!)

Maggie: What rude behaviour, these humans obviously need firm handling. However this is easier said than done, so why don’t you try something equally irritating? Try jumping up to lick their nose every time they do it, I’m sure they’ll get the message quickly.

2. Any ideas for relieving the boredom of long days in the office?

Maggie: I pass the time spent in the office by launching myself at the window every time a bird flies past. And when I get bored of that I find that chewing the legs of furniture is incredibly satisfying and wonderful for oral hygiene.

3. What’s your favourite food? I sometimes get titbits and treats (as well as the tripe they give me at home – no, really!), and if I’m lucky I get crumbs from under the tables... it’s a dog’s life! But chewing the books isn’t much good and I’d get into trouble...”

Maggie: I’ve eaten a whole tub of petroleum jelly once- it felt very naughty and exciting at the time but led to some awful toilet trouble so I wouldn’t recommend you try it. I enjoy a balanced diet of about 5% dog food and 95% human food that I manage to beg from the table. It sounds like you need some help training your humans, friend, as I wouldn’t be tolerating just tripe and crumbs. There’s a chapter in my book all about nutrition, you should give it a read.

Lily @ Ink@84 Bookshop, London


Lily: Dreaming of my last good read..water ship down....

My question to Maggie....I assume dog books are popular than cat ones...are they?


Maggie: Ah, Watership Down. One of my favourites. No dog can resist that many bunnies in one place! And in response to your question… there are cat books?


Ruby @ Chepstow Bookshop

Ruby: My favourite book is “Harry Potter and the Philosophers Bone” by J.K. Growling, which other authors would you recommend I read?

Maggie: Not many people would think it but I’m a big fan of Russian literature, Dogstoyevsky being my favourite. I’m also partial to Barker Lee, Arthur Canine Doyle and Virginia Woof.


Unknown name @ Storytellers Inc. St Annes

Dear Maggie,

I’m joining the team at Storytellers, Inc. later this Summer. I can’t wait to be a bookshop dog and make lots of new friends but there’s one thing I’m really nervous about - I’ve heard that some people (people who aren’t dog people) are ‘cat people’! What can you tell me about cat people, and how should I act around them if they come into the bookshop? Any advice appreciated.

Love from

A bookshop-puppy-to-be

Maggie: To be honest, I think somebody at Storytellers Inc. has been spinning a yarn, because I’ve never heard of anyone ever being a so-called ‘cat person’. The very idea of it is totally ludicrous and I would personally try to put it out of my mind and not worry at all. The only time you will ever come face to face with somebody who prefers cats to dogs would be in your dreams and quite frankly, I would describe that as a nightmare more than anything.


Gizmo @ Nutshell Studios, Essex

Gizmo: I have worked in this Bookshop for nearly 2 years and am still working unpaid.  The human uses my image for promoting the shop, taking photos while I am sleeping and showing them to the world without consulting me.  What are my rights?


Other dogs keep trying to sniff my fluffy bum and I do not like it.  I certainly do not want to be sniffing theirs!  Why are we expected to do this to every dog we meet?

Maggie: Gizmo, please remember that you own the human and not the other way around. But if I could see things from the human’s point of view for a moment; of course your image is being used in this way. Dogs are far better looking than humans (four legs are much more attractive than two) and this is a very obvious ploy to attract more customers. I would demand a share of the profits, or get tough and call a lawyer.

And as for your fluffy bottom, not everyone enjoys having theirs sniffed and you shouldn’t feel pressured to greet other dogs in this way if you’re not comfortable with it. Sometimes I lie on my back with my legs in the air when I meet strangers, perhaps you could give that a try?


Luna @ Edge of the World Bookshop, Cornwall

Luna: Why do my owners keep having their heads in a book when I want to run on the beach?

Maggie: I’ve seen the beaches in Cornwall and your humans need a good talking to, Luna. Perhaps you can reach a compromise and allow them to read my book on the beach? That way they might learn a thing or two about how to follow your instructions better.  

Visit Linghams this summer and have a portrait of YOUR dog created by illustrator-extraordinaire Helen Hancocks!

Saturday July 9th at 12.30pm