Rheta Grimsley Johnson honors loyal friends in new book

Man's best friend is also woman's best friend -- at least, that's true for columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson.

She will be at Pass Books/Cat Island Coffeehouse, 300 East Scenic Drive in Pass Christian, signing her latest book, "The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge," from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

In cooperation with Tired Dog Rescue, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing dogs, $5 from the sale of every copy of "The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge" sold during the event will be donated to the organization. Books may be reserved or purchased for those who cannot attend by calling 222-4827.

In "The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge," the nationally syndicated columnist uses a parade of beloved dogs to take readers on a colorful journey. It's not really a dog book in the Old Yeller sense; it's a personal story that uses dogs as metaphors for love, loss, and life.

She introduces Monster, "a big galoot of a mutt, the variegated color of a hand-knitted sweater a dour aunt might give you for Christmas"; Humphrey, who spent much of one night in an apartment complex "patiently lining stolen shoes up at our back door like a clearance rack at Payless"; Mabel (pronounced May-Belle), the first of the dogs to be buried "over the bridge" in Johnson's dog cemetery, who was "so beautiful that it never really mattered how much toilet paper she shredded, whose hairbrush she destroyed, where she sat or slept ... Scolding Mabel would have been stomping a rose"; and Pogo and Albert, who taught her than "grief can kill you, whatever your species. It isn't pretty, and it's a walk you must take alone."

Johnson lives at Fishtrap Hollow, near Iuka, in the Mississippi hill country.