Bibliophobia is a fear of books, but what’s the word for when it’s your dog that has the phobia?

Someone asked me recently why Dorothy Barker hasn’t been posing next to my book club picks the last few months and the truth is that she has developed an occasional uncanny suspicion of books. Why? No fucking idea. The vet seems to think she may have early-onset doggie dementia (she’s getting a little nuts, seeing thing that aren’t there, etc) and maybe this is just part of that or that maybe she’s just neurotic (join the club, dog). I tried to take a picture of her with this month’s Fantastic Strangelings book and she gave me a look like she was going to barf and then started slowly backing out of the room.

And I thought that maybe she was just self-conscious because she hadn’t had a bath in awhile, because she’s also become afraid of water and bites the shit out of me whenever I put her in the bath (Thank God for tiny teeth) so I gave her snuggles and snacks and tried again.

Have you ever seen a dog give a book the nervous side-eye? Well, now you have. I almost got a good picture and then Rolly was like, “CAN I HELP?” and Dottie used that distraction to slunk off and growl at the non-existent thing in the corner.

Anyway, I don’t have a good picture and I’m starting to worry that our house is haunted and our dog is psychic but please know that this month’s Fantastic Strangelings Book Club pick is fantastic and not possessed in the slightest.

It’s Shoot the Moon by Isa Arsén, a page-turning, genre-bending novel. Time is fractured in this story of a woman’s life set against the development of the atomic bomb and efforts to land the first man on the moon. It’s about love, science, grief, family, the space-time continuum, curiosity, exploration and more. AND it’s by a local San Antonio author so she’s going to sign yours personally before we mail it to you. Whoop!

And if you’re in our Nightmares from Nowhere horror book club we’re sending you Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror edited by Jordan Peele. (Yes, the Jordan Peele who has redefined modern horror movies.) Haunting new short stories by some of the best black authors out there.

Need more than one book to get you through the month? I GOT YOU, FRIEND.

Here are few new October releases that I read and enjoyed:

Lay Them to Rest: On the Road with the Cold Case Investigators Who Identify the Nameless by Laurah Norton – A fascinating deep dive into the dark world of forensic science as experts team up to solve the identity of an unknown woman named “Ina Jane Doe,” exploring the rapidly evolving techniques scientists are using to break the most notorious cold cases. If you like true crime, I highly recommend it.

A Haunting on the Hill by Elizabeth Hand – The first-ever authorized novel to return to the world of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House: a suspenseful, contemporary, and terrifying story of longing and isolation all its own.

HERC by Phoenicia Rogerson – A queer retelling of the story of Hercules from the perspective of his friends, enemies, wives, children, lovers and victims.

The Night House by Jo Nesbø – A very strange Norwegian psychological horror. I realize this list a bit horror heavy but it’s October so it’s to be expected, right?

Radiant Rebellion: Reclaim Aging, Practice Joy, and Raise a Little Hell by Karen Walrond – What if aging is something to aspire to, not to dread? A deep-dive reexamining our thoughts on getting older. PS. I’m doing a conversation with Karen at Nowhere on Nov. 2nd. Check it out if you want to come.

The Reformatory  by Tananarive Due – This one is not for the faint of heart. A haunting novel set in Jim Crow Florida that follows a young child as he’s sent to a segregated reform school that is a chamber of terrors where he sees the horrors of racism and injustice, for the living, and the dead.

The League of Lady Poisoners: Illustrated True Stories of Dangerous Women by Lisa Perrin – This book is gorgeous on the outside and fascinating on the inside. (Technically this came out two weeks ago but I missed it until now so I’m including it here.)

Happy reading and thank you for supporting your local indie bookshop! Me and my weirdo do love you.

36 thoughts on “Bibliophobia is a fear of books, but what’s the word for when it’s your dog that has the phobia?

Read comments below or add one.

  1. C’mon. Ms Dot Bark wants to read People, US Weekly and Glamour magazine. She can’t concentrate on those big old books. Take her to a happy hour (yappy hour?) and let her cut loose! 

  2. My puppy (she’s 8, but always a puppy, right?) ZsaZsa absolutely HATES getting her picture taken. I always put it down to her being a rescue and not knowing what her life was like before (maybe she was in puppy slavery and forced to take canine porn shots against her will??) but I have eleventy-hundred shots of her giving serious side-eye to my phone. 

  3. Canine bibliophobia? Our shepherd/lab mix, Jazz, used to be afraid of books. She was adopted from the shelter so no telling why, but we totally used it against her. She was bad about barking at the doorbell, but all we had to do was pick up a book (not even do anything with it, just pick it up off the coffee table) and she would instantly stop and slink away. I’m not sure if that makes us bad people or not, but it was definitely useful.

  4. My dog started barking at things– especially in the evening. Turns out his 10 year old eyes were starting to see things as bending. I started him on food for senior doggos and now, at 12, he is better. ( Purina proplan, FYI).

    (Ooh. Checking this out. Thanks! ~ Jenny)

  5. My dog hated cameras. I think she hated the flash. But soon all cameras and phones became monsters.

    It might not be the books.

  6. And for the cat lovers … my cat was crying and acting weird last night, staring up at the ceiling. Wasn’t sure it she was hallucinating on catnip, or if the room was being haunted. Turned out to be nothing so dramatic … just a Ladybug. But it did cause a lot of excitement for just being a tiny orange beetle.

  7.    If Dorothy Barker is afraid of water, try a damp washcloth to clean her. It’s like a mommy dog is washing her with its tongue and she may find it very soothing, unlike baths which make dogs very nervous because it’s slippery to stand on a wet surface. 
        Dogs can get cataracts and a whole host of age related vision problems, which makes them nervous, and dementia, and also a book may have fallen over at some point, making them afraid of them all of a sudden. 

  8. Perhaps she’s not afraid of books, but of paper itself. My giant dog suffers from that phobia. Paper is truly terrifying to her.
    Or Dorothy may just hate getting her picture taken – perhaps her self-esteem is lower than you think?

  9. I almost forgot to share my thoughts on last month’s books! Here there be spoilers:

    Land of Milk and Honey

    I don’t usually like dystopian environmental books because they scare the shit out of me but I really liked this one. Maybe because it ends on a somewhat hopeful and optimistic way?

    This book was so realistic for me, which made me both infuriated and focused. The unrealistic billionaires living different lives than everyone else while feeling superior to everyone else…the idea of using the weaknesses of each person to ensnare them into the group…the feeling of appreciation I had afterward when I ate a peach and reminded myself that simple, beautiful things could one day become a scarcity if we don’t pay attention.

    I loved the strange reflection of The Great Gatsby…with the mountains of ash, the priveledged unaware of how they destroy others, even the car accident. And the prose was so gorgeous.

    I think my favorite part was the end though. When she returns to the real world and finds that people’s tastes have changed and that new chefs have found ways to bring beauty to the strange new foods. It reminds me that we are all shaped by our environment. That we change with it and can adapt if we are lucky. Just like the man who was brought to tears by the taste of pig trotters because it reminded him of his childhood and how my own childhood tastes of deersteak fried in saltines is an acquired and strange craving that so few people share. In the end we long for the people who shaped us and the foods they fed us. Love is the things that survives above all.

    Black sheep

    This was one of my favorite books I read this year. Sarcastic, scary, witty…such a fun read.

    I guessed the twist fairly quickly but I loved the idea that satanism is just as boring as any other religion. And all the little hints along the way…like the fact that Grace nicknamed Vesper “Star” and Satan’s name when he was an angel was “Morning Star”.

    I wanted there to be someone in Vesper’s life who really loved her but in the end I think the fact that no one seemed to truly have her back yet she still saved humanity was a stronger message. The power of choice, forgiveness, redemption…a strong echo of the self-sacrifice of Jesus…even the cut at her rib like Jesus had when he died.

    Constance was such an interesting and conflicted character. She was a shit mother, and I got the feeling that she only agreed to have Vesper in exchange for a film career but I also felt badly for her since she’d been raised in the church and had been given to Satan and might not have had a choice. Maybe her lack of love for Vesper was self-preservation or maybe she was trying to make her stay away…she was a flawed person and awful mother, but I love that in the end she gave Vesper the skull hairpin that was used to close the portal…especially coming on the hills of Vesper telling her father it was selfish not to watch her mother’s films. Perhaps if he’d watched them he’d have seen it coming.

    And I loved when it ended and Vesper sees a stinky lamb and carried it away to safety like a shepherd. That’s how you do a parable. I think? Sorry. I’m not very religious.

    In the end I loved the idea that we can choose empathy and compassion but still stand up for ourselves…that we can be better than what our past tells us we are, no matter where we come from.

  10. Can NOT wait to see you & Karen together… her book is great! Tickets required?

    (No tickets required. Just come! But if you want to preorder a book that would be awesome. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  11. Ok, who else just had flashbacks to the call in Fever House when they just did the nationwide test? I’ve been afraid to answer my phone ever since I read that book!!

  12. One of my cats doesn’t like getting his picture taken. If he’s up on the desk, he’ll just stare you down if you tell him “no,” if you’re too far away to physically move him. He’ll jump down, though, if you try to take a picture of him from across the room.

  13. I wish I could persuade my cat, Encyclopedia Brown, to be afraid of books and magazines. He eats them. He doesn’t just shred the paper; he takes a bite, chews it, and swallows it. Sometimes he eats cardboard boxes, too. 

  14. A sad thing about dogs is that most of them don’t age very well. They get dementia, they go blind and/or deaf, they get terrible arthritis, and they have a host of other ills. 

  15. What do you mean you don’t have a good picture? You have an absolutely magnetic cat profile! (That was originally magestic but autocorrect insisted on changing it and magnetic cats were amusing enough to leave there)

  16. First off, love your dog. She reminds me of my papillon-chihuahua rescue, Jelly who died this past March. Also she definitely did all the weird scared of random things thing you’re describing as she got older. Then she went blind and really had no idea what was going on. She died at 16, so she did live a long, good life, but what you’re describing sounds just like her. Love these pictures, also gonna check this book out, sounds fascinating. 

  17. They get spooked by cameras as they get older much like we do. Although with us, it’s because we don’t want to see ourselves in photos after a certain age. Just remember that will most likely be us someday–afraid of cameras, drooling, glazed eyes, with dirty messed up hair, and we hope whoever is privileged to take care of us treats us with kindness.

  18. My chihuahua Gracie is about Dorothy Barker’s size. She’s always been skittish since I rescued her at 6 months old, but as she ages, she’s gotten more fearful and persnickety. World’s coldest dog, won’t wear a sweater or harness anymore. It’s a crapshoot every time getting her collar back on. She was never a fan of baths or nail trims to begin with, but used to tolerate me. Over the years, she decided fuck that, so now she goes to Petsmart or the vet for bathing and nail trim. Win-win for both of us. She’s glad to see me when it’s over and I get to keep my fingers.

  19. I screamed (ha ha) when I saw the Nightmares from Nowhere pick. Yesterday I went back and forth with myself (beware, can cause nausea) whether to buy Out There Screaming. Now I don’t have to decide, because you decided for me!!! Can you make all my decisions?

  20. New book club idea. The selection is whatever book Dorothy Barker agrees to be photographed with.

  21. I’m afraid Dorothy’s reaction to books is more serious than you think. Maybe she’s become a republican.

  22. Is there any way we can report #8 comment as spam?

    My cat just straight up hates my phone. If he’s sitting on me and I pick up my phone, not even to use just to move it, he gets up, glares at me, gives me sass and leaves. So odd and yet quite funny.

  23. Maybe it’s the title. She might think that any moment now you will “shoot” her the “moon.”  Or maybe she thinks it’s a book about that kind of thing and she doesn’t approve.

  24. I’m an LVT at Cornell and some years ago my greyhound developed canine cognitive dysfunction…of course she would be dysfunctional like me, I make it look appealing.

     Anyway, one of my Cornell internal medicine faculty suggested giving her melatonin at night (she had signs of sundowners, crying out and getting stuck in corners) and giving her ginkgo in the morning. She was a completely different dog within a week or so, sleeping peacefully through the night and when I woke her in the morning she’d be so rested and bright, and she spent the rest of her life without any of those scary episodes. Feel free to reach out if you’d like more info; Purina also makes a senior food called Bright Minds. 

  25. Re: doggie dementia…I had a dog with canine cognitive dysfunction (the clinical term)…he had almost every symptom in the book. Common ones to look for are walking in circles, getting stuck in corners or behind furniture when they should be able to get themselves out, having accidents in the house, etc. I gave him selegiline (a human Rx that is used for dementia in dogs and I believe Parkinson’s in humans…there is a vet version that is WAY expensive). That med took away his new fear and anxiety and MAY have slowed down other things?? Hopefully DB isn’t on that path….

  26. Your house may be haunted. We discovered your weird fake attic by its window, & then, it was never discussed again.
    Wear a neon green hat if you need our help.

  27. I’ve owned Vizslas for years now, they’re ALL neurotic (and needy, soooo needy). My neurotic dogs would be upset that you want something in the picture that isn’t them, because all eyes must be on them (well, one of them: “I’m closer to mom” is a very popular game here) at all times. Good luck. : )

  28. As always, thank you for the great book suggestions. I just completed my 2023 Nowhere reading bingo. The last space, Genre you don’t typically read, was a real bugger.

  29. As an LVT at Cornell, I had a greyhound who got canine cognitive dysfunction a few years ago; I suppose it’s only natural that she would be dysfunctional, given that I give the impression that it’s attractive.

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