Review of “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”

author’s pic

Long before I read this lovely tribute, I read and enjoyed Bronco’s adventures. Bronco was, without doubt, the goodest boy of them all—just like every dog.

Full disclosure: the author, Thomas Wikman, and I go back some years to a now-defunct writing site, Epinions. I have enjoyed his book reviews and letters to the editor for years.

That is not to say that the book is without surprises. For example, I didn’t know Thomas didn’t grow up with dogs. He has always come across as knowledgeable regarding animals. I assumed he’d been playing catch with four-footed beasts for as long as he could stand on two feet. I grew up with dogs. To me, a house without an animal isn’t a home.

Bronco was a Leonberger, a breed I’d never heard of before. It is an unusual breed in North America. Having originated in the 19th century in Germany, it remains more common in Europe. They are huge dogs, with the males weighing between 120 and 170 pounds and the females 100 and 135 pounds. They are similar to St. Bernards and are known for their gentle dispositions. This was the case for Bronco.

The author relates amusing stories about Bronco and the other dogs he and his family own(ed), which are entertaining. The tales serve more than to entertain, however. They show the family learning, though these are never mere didactic tools.

For example, the author relates that while he was talking with a trainer, Bronco kept poking him in the leg with his (sizeable) paw. The author ignored him because he was in the middle of a conversation. Bronco didn’t give up but bit his rear end—not hard enough to do damage, but hard enough to cause pain. Again, I stress the size of the dog. The author writes:

“I turned around, and there stood Bronco, looking at me with his happy eyes and wagging his tail as if he were completely innocent. I forgave him immediately.”

Rather than go off on the dog or slap him—as people might—he wisely asked the trainer why the dog acted like that. The trainer responded that Bronco wanted his attention but had to learn that he was not the one in charge and shouldn’t behave like that.

The love and caring the author and his family show for their dogs comes through on every page. It is not mere sentiment. He acknowledges that caring for animals is work and, at times, expensive. The dogs are walked, they’re cared for, and trained.

And the pictures! A photo of the cutest puppy on the planet—just like all the other puppies on the planet—when Bronco first arrived at about three months, and a photo of Bronco sitting on the lap of Thomas’ wife, Claudia. You have to take Thomas’ word for it because you can barely see any human in the picture. In addition to the photos, there are charming color drawings by Naomi Rosenblatt depicting some of the cutest and funniest incidents in the book. She also draws touching tributes to the dogs when they leave.

At the end of the book is a history of the Leonberger breed, including statistics, health concerns, and breed standards. This section also discusses the work of the Leonberger Health Foundation International, whose “mission is to improve the life, health, and longevity of the Leonberger,” according to its website.

The author and his stories of Bronco and the family’s other dogs are a reminder of how much animals enrich our lives. They are informative as well. I think any animal-lover will enjoy this—even if a Leonberger is not in your future.

The author is donating his proceeds from the sale of this book to the Leonberger Health Foundation International.

Title: The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle
Author: Thomas Wikman
First published: 2022

Available in print:

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

5 thoughts on “Review of “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”

  1. Denise thank you so much for your very supportive review. It was very kind of you and I really appreciate your kindness. You made my day. Also thank you for posting on Amazon as well.

    1. Glad you liked it. It was an enjoyable book. I hope it does well. It makes the point that dogs are not toys, but they are wonderful beings. I know this was the intent, but reading provided some comfort after losing my Gremlin.

      Best to you, your family and your furballs.

      1. I am so happy the book provided some comfort after you lost Gremlin. It is so difficult to lose a pet because they give so much love and we love them.

      2. Thanks, Thomas. Yes. And they’re innocent and completely dependent on you. It’s our job to give them the best life we can.

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