By and large, people consider themselves superior to animals, but the new book Music Row Dogs and Nashville Cats lets you know that canines and felines are often the ones controlling humans.
For instance, take the case of Blake Shelton. His two dogs found him and his wife while he was driving the tractor at his farm.
"The dogs came out of nowhere and jumped right in front of my tractor," Shelton says. "They were maybe four or five weeks old at the time. It was a steamy-hot June, and the puppies were extremely dehydrated, wormy and starving to death. We were leaving town that day, going back on the road, so we had to take them with us. They needed to be nursed back to health, so we made many a trip to the vet.
"In return, they have shown us so much loyalty. We're gone so much, but they don't forget. The minute they see our truck, they go crazy. It's amazing how they know we are their parents. ... They are one of the reasons I look forward to coming home."
Music Row Dogs and Nashville Cats is the latest title from CMT Books, a new imprint launched by CMT and Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books. CMT, part of MTV Networks, and Pocket Books are both divisions of Viacom.
Photographer Karen Will Rogers and writer Laura Lacy created the book that begins with a foreword from Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo. The authors will donate part of their proceeds to animal rights and rescue organizations in Nashville.
Nearly 100 country artists and their pets are featured, including Vince Gill, Jo Dee Messina, Lee Ann Womack, Trisha Yearwood, Wynonna, Brad Paisley, Terri Clark, Deana Carter, Tracy Byrd, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tracy Lawrence, Darryl Worley and George Jones. Also featured are Clint and Lisa Hartman Black, Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts and Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry. Tanya Tucker recently joined the authors in New York City to sign copies of the book.
Of course, at least one animal featured in the book is something of a celebrity, himself. Country fans are familiar with Dierks Bentley's dog, Jake, from seeing him in the singer's music videos.
"I feel like God brought Jake into my life when I was going through a lot of difficult times," Bentley explains. "He's been there when things were really bad, and he's still here and a part of all the fun we're having now. I'm just so thankful that he came into my life when he did. He's happy, thankful and loving -- and I guess that rubs off on you."
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Music Row Dogs and Nashville Cats.