Thursday reading by ‘School for Dogs’ author invites canine and human fans

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Author Ellen Cooney with some of her inspiration for “The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances,” rescued pets Skip, Andy and Maxine.

Author Ellen Cooney with some of her inspiration for “The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances,” rescued pets Skip, Andy and Maxine.

Dogs are invited to Thursday’s reading at Porter Square Books, of course. It’s Ellen Cooney, a one-time and longtime Cambridge resident who has taught writing at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reading from her novel “The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances.”

“I’ll be so at home in my old city and also store. Everyone is invited to bring their dogs too  – a first for us all!” Cooney told fans on Facebook.

The novel follows Evie, who lies about her qualifications to be a dog trainer at a mountaintop animal Sanctuary that turns out to be a secret command center for a rescue network for abused dogs.

It’s drawn praise from the mainstream press (Publishers Weekly enthused: “Dog lovers rejoice! Cooney has crafted a feel-good, canine-filled tale of cross-generational friendship, healing, and solidarity”) and specialty publications such as The Bark magazine, which called it a “must-read” and “a moving and joyous romp … a brilliantly crafted, uplifting book” in which “all the dogs are wonderfully, fully drawn characters.” (People magazine has also called it a “Best New Book, which gave Cooney pause.)

Cooney, now a resident of Phippsburg, Maine, is a little bit like Evie, the author said:

My own experiences with dog training are of the home-school variety. They’re based on trial and error, patience and its opposite, cluelessness and “whatever works.”

And of course, there’s the fact that I love, love, love my dogs. I have three. Skip came to me in Maine as a little guy from a rescue group in Tennessee. Andy is a gorgeous, giant-size Golden Retriever who was bred to be a show dog – he’s descended from long lines of major champions, but his non-standard size made him an outcast in that world. Maxine, my youngest, a Lab/Wirehaired Terrier mix, was saved by a rescue worker from a high-kill shelter, at the age of about six months, on the day she was scheduled to be euthanized because she’d outlived her stay.

Cooney, also author of “A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies” and other novels, reads at 7 p.m. Thursday at Porter Square Books, 25 White St., Porter Square.

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