BobA Message from Rochelle Lesser, School Psychologist
Stories sustain us in times of trouble and serve to encourage us towards ends we would not otherwise envision. And, the story of Bob, from the book Mostly Bob, is one such story. Written and designed by Tom Corwin, a talented musician and music producer living in Northern California, this book's deeply-felt rhythm is achieved by a silhouetted Golden walking gracefully through each one-sentence page. Although a mere 1,000 words, this beautifully designed book aptly conveys the power of transformation that can come from the unconditional love between man and dog. Yet, Tom does not take credit for his own role in changing Bob. In fact, he believes that it was Bob's ability to turn around his own life—so finding happiness and security for himself — that was so remarkable.

I contacted Tom about his book (March 2006), asking if he could share some personal photos of Bob and more about his own Golden experiences. also sharing my recent loss of my Golden Darcy with him. This was his response:

"Rochelle, I am so sorry for your recent loss. I know how big that loss must be. I hope your other Goldens are holding you up in this difficult time. Bob was a deep soul and a huge loss. He was also the third Golden I've had and the second to find me. I now have Pi, another Golden who found her way into my life through different circumstances. ... Thank you so much for your support of Mostly Bob. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I don't take a lot of photographs, so I don't have many pics of Bob, but I will poke around and see what I can come up with to pass on. Your site is fantastic and a rich homage to these amazing loves. I look forward to taking a more detailed look at the site. It looks like a very deep resource filled with great information."   All good things, Tom  see

How Mostly Bob Came About
Universal Accolades
A Dog's Tale
Mostly Dylan
September 2006 Update





Click here to order this wonderful book!Mostly Bob
Let me tell you more about what makes this story so extraordinary, and how Mostly Bob came about.

The uniqueness and magic in this tale comes from its initial premise, that is, of a dog adopting a man, along with the unique love story that ensues. When almost 30 years ago Dr. Allen Schoen asserted that animals had feelings and emotions, he was scoffed at by his professional peers. Yet, now, more and more, we are seeing how humans and animals can mutually benefit from their heightened awareness, respect, and love for one another.

It was when Tom's Golden Retriever, Bob, passed away unexpectedly, that he decided to write a letter as a tribute to Bob's life. But, it would also tell Bob’s many human friends what they might not have known — the surprising story of how Bob was once a ferocious, abused, untrusting dog named Red, and how he changed completely to become Tom’s best friend.

This is the beginning of that letter as it was originally written and e-mailed to a list of 30 friends:

To all of you who have known and loved Bob:
I am terribly sad to say that Bob left us Saturday morning. He was a great source of love, comfort and laughs to many of us. He should serve as a powerful reminder to us all that wounded hearts can, and do, heal. It seemed to me his story deserved writing down.

He was amazingly successful in changing his own life. There are not a lot of dogs who can make that claim. He was a true hero.

As you may know, Bob came to me after nine years of suffering and neglect. He had the misfortune of having a dog owner who had very little understanding of how to love animals. He was locked out of the house, and it seemed the only time Bob got attention was when his owner's temper was raging. As a consequence, Bob grew up seeing life through the narrow eyes of fear and survival.

I knew him for all those years as the psycho-dog next door. He was unbathed, smelled bad and looked like hell. He never set foot on my property. As much of a dog lover as I am, there was little to love or appreciate about Bob. If anyone (including myself) tried to walk onto the neighbor's property and pet him, he would peer through distrustful eyes, show his teeth, growl and bark like a rabid animal.

Occasionally when Bob would spend literally hours on end barking next door, I would walk over, brave his threats and try to calm him down. Sometimes it worked. I must admit in spite of this even I couldn't find much to like about Bob.

Then about four and a half years ago, through sheer genius and determination on Bob's part, he changed his own life. He apparently noticed that Bubba, my fifteen-year-old Golden Retriever, had recently and sadly departed. (He may also have noticed that for the last year and a half of Bubba's life I had been carrying him up my one hundred stairs every day.)

About a month later I looked out the window and saw Bob on my property. I remember thinking to myself, 'That's weird, he never steps over the property line.' The next thing I noticed was when he walked onto my deck about a week later and lay down. 'Now that's really, really weird.' Then he simply stayed. ...

The letter continues, but you will have to buy the book to learn more. Once Tom sent the letter out, he began receiving an outpouring of heartfelt responses to what he thought was just a slightly unusual story about his dog, but was, he came to realize, a universal tale about the possibility of change and the power of love with no strings attached. Friends and strangers urged him to bring the story to more people, and with a vision of how it might look, Tom designed and made by hand a special book version of the letter, complete with flipbook illustrations of his beloved Bob.






Universal Accolades

The outpouring of emotion in the following personal reviews and news article clearly demonstrates how healing such tales of kindred spirits can be.

"Mostly Bob speaks straight to the heart." — Marianne Williamson

"One measure of our humanity is the unconditional love we are capable of giving to an animal. . . . Mostly Bob puts it beautifully and succinctly into words." — Morley Safer, news correspondent, 60 Minutes

"I love this story. Not since Charlotte’s Web — and really I read it as an adult — have I been pushed passed the sadness to accept the beauty of a life well lived. Tom says that Bob was ‘amazingly successful in changing his own life.’ He changed mine too." — Linda Winer, theater critic, New York Newsday

"Simply a beautiful love story." — Bonnie Raitt

"Bob has grabbed our hearts the way he did Tom’s. We cried, we hugged our dogs, and then we smiled deeply for the wisdom, the humor, and the genius that was Bob." — Richard Pryor and Jennifer Lee Pryor

". . . a small work but large in what it has to say and the quality of its emotion." — Joanne Woodward

"If we treated each other the way we treat our beloved pets, this would be a very different world. My motto has long been WWLD, What Would Lassie Do? From now on it will be WWBTD, What Would Bob and Tom Do? The answer is sharing their love until there is no time left. You couldn't ask for better role models." — Dr. Bernie Siegel

"As I flipped through the pages of Mostly Bob I was instantly intrigued. I couldn't help but read the entire book before putting it down. My chest ached, tears streamed down my cheeks, and dog memories — joyful and painful — flooded my brain. Tom Corwin’s Mostly Bob is moving — emotionally, and to the New York Times bestseller list." — Dr. Ian Dunbar, author of Before & After Getting Your Puppy

"Simple and elegant, Mostly Bob clearly expresses the power and meaning of our deep and passionate interconnections with animals. Read it, feel it, and share it widely. I'll be giving it to all my friends." — Marc Bekoff, professor of biology, University of Colorado, author of Minding Animals








By Rick Polito, Marin Independent Journal, March 17, 2006

Waiters in black shirts with red ties bore trays of martinis past a towering ice sculpture. Clots of Baby Boomer Bohemia clustered near the dim sum. It could have been a cocktail party but the line snaking past the bar was not for drinks.

The people in the line clutched little red books, some with their fingers stretching around small stacks, as Mill Valley music producer turned author Tom Corwin flared his felt tip pin between the occasional dabbing cheek kiss.

Bob, Corwin says, would be smiling. But do dogs smile?

Corwin would say they do. He might also say his book, "Mostly Bob," is not a dog book. Just the story of a dog. In a year when the No. 1 title on the best-sellers list has been a writer's remembrances of a canine companion, "Marley and Me," Corwin's tale of his dog's life and passing could be positioned in a lucrative niche. But Corwin is running the other way. "You don't necessarily get dog," he says of the palm-sized hardcover. "You get depth."

Whatever the readers are getting, they're getting it in droves. "Mostly Bob" sold out its first printing in a matter of weeks, a very unlikely phenomenon for a book that might not even be a book.

"Mostly Bob" is mostly white space. Spare, with one sentence per page punctuated across 144 pages, many of them blank, the heartfelt canine eulogy borders on a handheld art installation. Corwin calls it "a tactile experience." He also calls it a "vision," an "obsession" and a "pure moment."

Bob had a profound effect on the author. The retriever lived next door to Corwin on a Mill Valley hillside and was little more than a snarling, barking menace for most of his life. It was only after Corwin's own golden retriever died - "Golden retrievers seem to find me," he says - that Bob came into Corwin's life.

The dog Corwin calls "neglected" sought out the music producer's company, hovering on the redwood deck, greeting him at the top of the 100 steps to Corwin's front door. Bob became Corwin's adopted dog and constant companion, following him to recording sessions and waiting backstage at concerts.

And then he left. A sudden swelling of the spleen tore Bob out of Corwin's life in the course of one night. The grieving dog owner was devastated and felt a need to express that hurt. He e-mailed a list of 30 friends who knew Bob's story. The words poured out of him. "The best moments of creativity are the ones you get lost in," Corwin says. "Those moments when you just get out of the way."

The letter soon moved beyond the 30 people on his e-mail list. It's still drifting through in-boxes across the Internet. The letter has a "life of its own," Corwin says. But it was still a letter. It became a book only after Corwin's friend, children's book artist and author Leslie McGuirk, told him it was a book.

She knew it was a book when she saw his e-mail. "I read it and it stayed with me for days," McGuirk says. She told Corwin to keep the writing "just the way it is" and turn it into an "exquisite piece of art." "Mostly Bob" lived up to that, she says. "It affects people in a way you don't see that often."

The suggestion clicked with Corwin. "I saw this image in my head which was the book," he says, recalling how he was soon studying book binding, following his vision to a hand-bound volume nearly identical to the one eventually published by New World Library.

The book as he conceived it was a kind of meditation. The one sentence on each page forces the reader to slow down as the words sink in. The blank pages become deep breaths. "I began to see the rhythm of this book."

When he brought it to friends, he began to see its power. The book jacket includes blurbs from "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer, actress Joanne Woodward and Bonnie Raitt, one of the talents on Corwin's collaborator's list, who called "Mostly Bob" "simply a beautiful love story." People tell him the book brought them unexpected insights.

Corwin won't say he's really surprised. People who have lost a pet will understand the bond. People who have lost any loved one will recognize the feelings. Loss, Corwin says, centers people. "It calls us and pulls us down to a place within ourselves that is deeper than the one we normally operate in," he says.

And it's not just loss. There is a kind of redemption. A creature of barks and growls found kindness and become a "loving beautiful spirit." As Corwin writes in the book, Bob was "amazingly successful at changing his own life." The story is archetypal, Corwin insists.

In the wrong words, or the wrong format, the story could also be sappy, perhaps an "Old Yeller" in Hallmark prose, a "Kibbles and Bits for the Soul." But "Mostly Bob" has little of that. It is heartfelt without being maudlin. The odd format draws the reader out of the "not another dog book" cynicism.

Jason Gardner, Corwin's editor at New World Library, says the combination of the book and the story won him over. "We're cynical here, too," he says. But the book started making its way around the office. "People passed it around. They said you have to read this," Gardner says. "That doesn't happen around here." New World came to understand the format, the size, the blank pages, Gardner says. It worked. "If it didn't work, we wouldn't have done it."

Corwin knows he'll be accused of committing schmaltz. He's not worried. The story is too true, too real, too immediate for him to worry. "I don't think sensitivity is a weakness," he says.

At the book's premier party last month, where the waiters in the black shirts with red ties wove through the thicket of turtlenecks and natural fibers, "Mostly Bob" was passed around the room in stacks. Corwin's pen was busy. Actor Peter Coyote read the book in its brief entirety. The bartender cried. It wasn't a dog book. Just the story of a dog.







September 2006 Update
Tom contacted me again in April asking about the best way to get out news of his book to fellow Golden lovers.

Tom surrounded by Gold at Goldstock

He wanted to get further information about attending the upcoming GRCA Nationals in Kansas. Knowing how full their schedule was and realizing how well suited his book would be to Golden rescue folks, I instead provided him with information about the Labor Day festivities at camp Goldstock, also writing to camp mistress Gail Lustig about the book and how I believed Tom's involvement and participation would be a perfect match.

While my health prevented me from attending this wonderful Golden event, a couple of my Foundation board members were in attendance. As I would have expected, Tom was an enormous hit, his sincerity and own Golden obsession readily apparent to all. I love the above photo of Tom surrounded by Gold, and this photo (on the left) of him with Golden Rescue Gus shows just how happy these guys were at the event.

Golden Pi


After nudging Tom to let me know about his current Golden kid, he finally shared this photo (shown on the left) of Pi, nestled in the foliage at his home. Oh, how serious and regal she looks here.

Pi found her way to Tom several months after Bob left his side. She was only six-years-old and quite needy as she had recently lost her human mom to cancer. She is Tom's first Golden girl, and reportedly, quite cuddly.

You can keep up with the latest with Tom and his writing and more at his new Mostly Bob Blog.











It was so exciting to discover Tom's book, and then come to discover his musical talent as well. I was not familiar with his work and when I listened to the tracks of his recently created work, Mostly Dylan, it seemed to be providence that I would find a song that so perfectly paid tribute to the miracle of Bob.

The song playing in the background, "Forever Young," was written by Bob Dylan. This particular rendition, however, comes from the album, Mostly Dylan. Released in December 2004, the album is a result of a collaboration between Tom Corwin and Tim Hockenberry, and the inspiration of bringing new perspectives to the indelible music of Bob Dylan. Tom has many years experience as a composer, producer and performer, having worked with artists as diverse as Patti LaBelle, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson and Booker T.






Your choice — turn off music or keep on.