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The Bog, The Legend of Man’s Best Friend is now being recommended and endorsed for the reading program of 8-12th grade students by the following:


Jennifer Day, Librarian, Huntington High School, Huntington, WV


John Aluise, Ph.D, former professor, UNC at Chapel Hill, NC, and high school instructor


Dr. Bob Angel, Ph.D, Profession of Education, Marshall University, Huntington, WV


Judith Hoskins, Ph.D English instructor, St. John’s International School, Brussels


Catherine Brewster, Teacher of the Deaf, Cabell County Schools. Huntington, WV


James Madachy, Ph.D former instructor, Galluadet University, Washington, DC


Father James Sobus, former CEO of Our Lady of Fatima parish school, Huntington, WV


Edwina Pendarvis, Professor Emeritus, College of Education, Marshall University


Contact John (304) 634-7516 or if you would like to purchase copies of The Bog for your school reading program.

The Bog, The Legend of Man's Best Friend

A short, sweet novel from Smith (Murder on the Trap, 2011, etc.) about the mysterious relationship between man and beast.


When Bill hears the cries of a wounded dog coming from a dark, swampy area of his rural property, he feels compelled to help. In doing so, he sets off a chain of mystical events in which the animals of the bog start behaving very oddly indeed. Oddest of all, Bill hears a wolf speak to him. Initially inclined to deny the experience, Bill is lured back to the bog by his longing to understand the true nature of dogs: is it possible they could speak with humans? Do they have souls? The rest of the book revolves around Bill’s attempts to answer these questions, with Christian themes shaping the narrative. Bill, who is particularly disturbed by the Bible’s apparent claim that dogs cannot go to heaven, struggles to reconcile Christian teachings with his belief that dogs are “a species that was personally selected by God to watch over us.” Bill’s musings are folksy and conversational, sprinkled with homespun wisdom: “Expectations are like the edge of a mountain we force ourselves to walk to…not knowing until we get there whether we’ll take that extra step or not.” Such asides and digressions drag the narrative down at times, taking readers out of the action at crucial moments. The plot itself is straightforward and never builds much tension; the story’s momentum is derived more from Bill’s internal spiritual journey than from his experiences out in the bog. That journey, though, is sincere and thoughtful. Bill’s love of dogs and other animals is affectingly immense; he even suggests an amendment to the Bible to provide for the afterlives of dogs. Animal lovers concerned with the same Christian dilemmas will be especially drawn to Bill’s story, but any reader may find bits of inspiration. “How,” Bill asks, “would your world…be affected if, upon waking tomorrow morning, there were no dogs in the world?" It’s a question that will speak to many, and Smith’s book is a worthwhile meditation on its answer.


A passionate ode to dogs and their people, with little plot and lots of heart.

~Kirkus Review on January 21st, 2015




The Bog, The Legend of Man's Best Friend

"It’s not surprising when we say that we’re sucker for good pet books around these parts. When I was sent John Preston Smith’s latest book, The Bog, I’ll admit, I was apprehensive. You see, in the nature of full disclosure, I am a wuss. I still cry during the Lion King, or when the Golden Retriever gets stuck in the pit during the movie Homeward Bound and I can’t even think about watching All Dogs Go To Heaven. These fears aside, I embarked on a truly memorable adventure with John and his pup writer as they explore his own backyard.


The story opens with a fascinating story that grabs your attention from the very first pages. Each evening as I read The Bog I would witness a new side of John and the true complexity of human nature. It’s obvious that he dug deep with this book as he continuously wonders why things happen throughout, almost contemplating with a certain sense of spirituality. When it comes to tough issues, he writes with reverence, and despite certain instances in which you’re left scratching your head in disbelief (like a telepathic conversation with a wolf) you can feel his respect for animals of all kinds.


The book itself is easy to bite off in small chunks, which makes for perfect before bed reading, and the story is as easy to follow, as it is to read.  And while a couple of sections could have benefited from some minor edits, it’s easily forgivable as you come to know and love John, Writer and the friends they meet along the way."

~Allison S. - Petluxe, Cincinnati




 The Bog, The Legend of Man's Best Friend

 “John Preston Smith has presented an interesting concept in his book The Bog.  Mr. Smith is clearly an animal lover and has a real connection to the spirit of the wild.  There is something very compelling about this story and the concept that each dog has a specific role to fill while on earth, should the opportunity present itself.


"Mr. Smith provides vivid descriptions of the woods surrounding the home of the story’s narrator, particularly the bog, where the main story takes place.  There are passages that are very memorable, the scene where our narrator meets the wolf-pup and saves his life, the recounting of the mama bear attack, and the death of the narrator’s animal friend draw the reader right into the action.  And the author’s love of the noble creatures of the forest leaps off the page.

This little book and its message of the love between dogs and their owners will stay with me forever.”

~Judges commentary in the 20th Annual Writer’s Digest Annual Self-Published Book Awards (November 2012)





The Bog, The Legend of Man's Best Friend

This novel had me wanting my very own dog to love it unconditionally.


"This book is very memorable, profound and thought-provoking! I am not an animal person, BUT, this novel had me wanting my very own dog to love it unconditionally. I thought with this book, laughed at some parts, wished for a dog and then thought some more. In all, this novel is a great book to add to anyone’s shelf and I would recommend it to all animal lovers and even those who are not! Great Job, John Preston Smith on a great novel!"

~By EBReviews on January 8, 2015



14,000 Dogs Later

“I have trained police dogs for a number of years and must say that if I had a problem with my pet dog it is John’s advice and wisdom I would seek.”

-Captain Ron Arthur, WV State Police Director of Special Operations


“It’s the best book I’ve ever read on dog behavior.”

–Chad Brown, DVM


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