Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had
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Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  317 ratings  ·  49 reviews
COLTER pairs one of America's most treasured writers with our most treasured "best friend." Colter, a German shorthair pup, was the runt of the litter, and Rick Bass took him only because nobody else would. Soon, though, Colter surprised his new owner, first with his raging genius, then with his innocent ability to lead Bass to new territory altogether, a place where he fe...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 1st 2001 by Mariner Books (first published 2000)
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Eva Leger
I didn't finish this and I'll get into why in a second. I just noticed my younger sister tried to read this in Jan. 2009 and now that I see her review here I can remember her borrowing it and quickly returning it. She didn't like it and let me know about the hunting factor which she knows I'm not in favor of. (Neither is she.)
Well, I kept it (obviously) because everyone is different and maybe there would be something that I liked.
There wasn't. I didn't even make it to page 30 I think. There is n...more
Krissy
I only made it as far as Page 12 with this book. It's not that it was badly written or anything, but when I first read the jacket, it didn't say anything about hunting, which is why I decided to read it. However, it seems to me like that's mostly what this book is about, a man and his dog hunting together. And even though I don't like hunting and never will, that's not the reason why I couldn't read it. It's just that it was boring for me and I'm almost positive that it would have taken me a lon...more
Chris
Good book. I am sooo not a hunter, but can't help but smile at a man who loves his dog(s) so deeply. Me too. I relate. Even though I have never hunted, I have lived with German Shorthairs most of my life. Still do. I will give this book to my dad who was quite a bird hunter in his day and trained many a hunting dog. I know it will bring memories, smiles and maybe a few tears remembering his favorite dog - Zeke, the most beautiful black and white English Setter I have ever seen. Abby, Meggie, Wil...more
Brian
Rick Bass has a way with words that will capture your imagination, yet this book isn't one of his better written ones. I think the subject was too personal for him to back off and approach with a little more polish. Even so, the passion for Colter will carry you through the drier moments. [return][return]I enjoyed this love story for a dog he enjoyed for a few years. I tried not to criticize Bass in his relationship with Colter, but at times you wanted him to be a little more in charge. Colter w...more
Marlène
Pour varier les plaisirs et les sujets, passons du polar noir à l'animal. Que lire, que lire ?! Parmi les jolis tas de livres qui ponctuent mon appartement et ma chambre au domicile parental (bibliothèque sans place disponible...), on trouve du grizzli, du loup et du chien. Et pourquoi pas du chien ? Dans la catégorie chien, un classique de London à relire, un possible bijou de Rick Bass et un OVNI, offert avec humour (un peu douteux) par une amie américaine qui fait de la relecture pour quelque...more
Frances Morrier
This is a terrific read--for a dog lover or appreciator of the natural beauty of our American northwest. Bass never disappoints--excellent writer with terrific descriptions of natural landscapes. He pulls the reader along on bird hunting (even a non-hunter) treks with Colter, his genius but also at times comical, shorthaired dog. He also writes about the contradictions in being a 'tree hugger' and a bird hunter--although a terrible shot.
Lynn Siler
I'm not a hunter nor am I interested in hunting but Bass' vivid and moving prose helped me understand, and appreciate, one environmentalist's obsession with bird hunting. A beautifully written memoir about a hunting dog.
Jamie
I read this book almost every summer and have read all of his fiction and nonfiction alike. Bass writes with a kind of creativity, humility, and honesty that I really admire and appreciate.
Andrew
Jan 04, 2008 Andrew rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dog people
Best "I love my dog" book I've read. Warning...sad ending, don't read on public transportation.
Stephanie
Jun 03, 2010 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dog owners, hunters, writers
Shelves: dogs
The prose in this book approaches poetry at times it is so beautiful. Rick Bass did a wonderful job of capturing the energy he experiences while hunting birds with his dog. He also did a great job of putting into words the love he has in his heart and the special connection he had with his dog. His talent in observation and being able to put what he sees and feels into words on paper is unmatched.

The story was easy to read and moved along at a good pace for a memoirish piece. Being a dog owner...more
Mimi Brooks
ahhh. i wanted more colter stories and less hunting techniques or descriptions of birds. more stories of colter at home would have been just a tad more interesting; but otherwise it was a good and bittersweet book.
Jim
A nice well-written memoir of a man's relationship to his hunting dogs, especially his favorite, Colter, a mischevious but talented pointer who captured his heart. I am not the greatest fan of hunting, though have fewer qualms with those who eat their prey, but I did enjoy the descriptions of nature and of the hunts, and particularly of the dogs. I think the best story is how he got his first two, sisters abandoned in an old house in the woods, destined for the pound yet saved by the mysterious...more
Andrea
Beautiful memoir of his first bird dog, with quiet meditations on living and playing outside, the focus and full seeing and experiencing if the world through hunting, and many small asides about living life fully, with enthusiasm, and the gluttonous zest and yearning for living. I was already a fan of Bass, and this book meets my expectations. It is quite reminiscent of Aldo Leopold's essays, and is beautifully evocative that hunters can be, and really should be, our greatest environmentalists.
Jessica
Really kind of disappointed in this book. It leads you to believe that its a happy tale. Just a guy and his dog, frolicking in the woods. Sure the hunting really isn't my thing, but he doesn't get many so its not so bad. What bugged me most was getting almost all the way through the book and then *spoiler alert*
tragedy strikes. The book ends on a downward note from there. I get that its real life and these things happen, but I wanted a happy ending and this just wasn't it.
Kt.
Let me start by saying I abhor hunting. Truly. I was almost put of by Mr. Bass's prologue because I don't want to read about "glee killings." This book has changed my mind. Mr. Bass has such a balanced approach to hunting, and to live, that I was intrigued. The writing is beautiful. He could almost - but not quite - pen menus and have me hooked. I am looking to read something else, anything else, by this author.
Natalie
Sep 05, 2007 Natalie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: good folks
i read this one out loud to ben when we were living in a tent outside our friends home in vermont. well....actually we had moved in to the un-finished "addition" because of the stormy weather.....and well......this one is a tear jerker.....ben and i BOTH cried. we LOVED this book. i am a big fan of rick bass's writing and this one is one of my favorites. a little book, with a HUGE heart.
Samantha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kristy McRae
I really enjoyed this book--although admittedly not a big bird-hunting fan (and a good deal of this book revolves around hunting descriptions), Rick Bass's writing is so wonderful, I was drawn right in. His writing is vivid, and heartfelt, and at times very humorous. If you like good dog stories, or just plain skilled non-fiction writing, I'd recommend this book!
Trinka
very well written. Love to read stories about dogs and their "intelligence"
Shelley
If you have ever loved our pets more than your spouse or sister or whatever, you'll get the connection this author forged with his prized dog Colter. The entire story reminds me to cherish my pets and give back to them the little things they give me each day.

PS- I had fun learning about birding dogs, which I didn't know anything about.
Doug
Colter is simultaneously the most heartwarming, most heartbreaking story I have ever read. If you don't have a very soft spot for dogs, you may not give it a five, but you'll still enjoy the superb, descriptive prose.

I've read Colter twice and have given away two copies to others to demonstrate my love for this text.
Amanda
May 06, 2008 Amanda rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dog people, nature lovers
Shelves: own
A sweet book about dogs, bird hunting, and love. Sometimes it reminded me of Old Yeller, other times it was more like Desert Solitaire. No major revelations here, but I did learn quite a bit about how hunting dogs are raised and trained. And it gave me a new respect for the amount of time and devotion one must invest.
Sabbeyk
This is a beautiful book. He describes perfectly the way any dog lover feels about his or her "IT" dog. The best dog EVER had no matter how bad the dog may be. While it's somewhat similar in this concept to "My Dog Tulip"... this story is touching and Ackerly's is.. well... unusual? and kind of creepy.
Carolyn
The best of the three dog books I have read this year. It is the best not because of the "best dog" but the author's ability to describe the emotion attached to hunting, appreciating nature and the ourdoors, and spending time with a dog you love. I will read some other titles from this author.
Kirsten
even though bass is a lovely writer, i think you might have to be crazy about dogs to like this book. i am, so i did. it's a bit repetitive--bass tells you page after page how much he loved his dog, but somehow i enjoyed hearing him say it, and catching glimpses of his dog and hunting mate.
Mary
This is a love story. Maybe a man's book, maybe about hunting, but if you've ever loved a dog with all your heart and seen that devotion returned, this is a book for you. This is a celebration of the joy of being in the outdoors.
Bren
Sep 06, 2013 Bren rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
A sweet story, sad as all dog books are. Perhaps tedious in the theory of bird hunting, but that is what drives Colter - so you must know it to understand him.
When I finished the book, I wanted more pages with Colter.
Meg
Eh? Ok. Not amazing...not inspiring....not thrilling. I learned about bird dogs---but not a lot as the terms were not explained. I learned about training a dog, but not a lot as nothing was explained....
Sylvia Ysatis
Oct 06, 2009 Sylvia Ysatis rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Sylvia by: a bum named Red
Im almost finished and my god I LOVE IT!!! its a diffrent style of writing than I'm used to but it is awesome and so heart wrenchingly emotional! I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE!!
Sarah Boon
Great writing, but not the dog book I was expecting. More about how his dog enhances his experience of wilderness, less about his relationship with the dog.
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Rick Bass was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in Houston, the son of a geologist. He studied petroleum geology at Utah State University and while working as a petroleum geologist in Jackson, Mississippi, began writing short stories on his lunch breaks. In 1987, he moved with his wife, the artist Elizabeth Hughes Bass, to Montana’s remote Yaak Valley and became an active environmentalist, wo...more
More about Rick Bass...
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“I do not concern myself with my inability to feel such comfort amidst humans (other than with very few friends and family), but, rather, am simply thankful that at least dogs exist, and I’m humbly aware of how much less a person I’d be – how less a human – if they did not exist. ” 35 likes
“A dog creates, transcribes, a new landscape for you. A dog like Colter sharpens your joy of all the seasons, and for a while, sometimes a long while, such a dog seems capable, by himself alone, of holding time in place--of pinning it, and holding it taught. And then when he is gone, it is as if the world is taken away.

Dogs like that are young for what seems like a very long time....

One you have lost a dog--especially the first you trained from a pup, the one you first set sail into the world with--you can never fully give of yourself to another dog. You can never again look at a dog you love without hedging a tiny bit, if only subconsciously, against the day when that dog, too, must leave. You can never again hunt or enter the future so recklessly, so joyously, with that weight of forethought....

As I sleep restlessly, night after night, or more often, as I lie there awake, I can see him running and I feel guilty that I am not there to honor the birds he is finding... One way or the other, he is still out there running. He will never rest.... I will always want him to know a moment's rest, and peace, and he will always know in his hot heart that the only peace to be gotten is by never resting, by always pushing on.

He is my Colter.... I am still his, and he is still mine.”
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