As we get closer to the release of The Art of Nothing (the MUTTS 25th anniversary book which will be available this fall), I’d like to express my gratitude toward spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, who kindly wrote the foreword for the book.

I began following Eckhart’s work in 1999, after being compelled to pick up a copy of his book The Power of Now.  I found myself moved by its message, told with directness and simplicity, and which inspired several MUTTS strips. Then, in 2008, Eckhart was interviewed for Modern Dog Magazine. In it he said, “I believe that dogs fill a vital function in the collective consciousness of humanity. I would call them ‘the Guardians of Being.'” That resonated deeply with me. I proposed a book idea combining his quotes with my art. Eckhart was gracious and agreed to collaborate. And so our book Guardians of Being was born.

As a longtime admirer of Eckhart’s teachings, it was an honor to work with him then — and it is an honor to include his words in my upcoming MUTTS anniversary collection.

I recently returned from a trip to southern Africa, truly an experience of a lifetime. It made me even more appreciative of the African countries that have set aside so much space for wildlife. While there, I saw so many thriving species of animals and birds: elephants, baboons, giraffes (my favorite), lions, leopards, mongoose, eagles, and owls, with the vast majority taking care of their offspring. Every moment was sheer joy, and, yes, I took a thousand photos … It reaffirmed my commitment to appreciate the beauty of this planet and to do all I can to keep the world’s animals safe.

Did you know that a group of giraffes (standing still) is called a tower, but when they are traveling, they are called a journey? And a herd of zebras is known as a dazzle?

I’m sure Mooch will be dreaming of Africa in the strip again soon.

Pictures of an elephant and a giraffe from Patrick McDonnell's trip to Africa
Picture of lion with cubs

I’m enthused to give a shout-out to The Bark, an award-winning magazine about modern dog culture. Published quarterly, it is available by subscription and at Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, and PetSmart stores. You can sign up for The Bark‘s weekly free e-newsletter, in which you just may find Earl and Mooch!

At the end of my last letter, I asked what kind of animal-related activities you had planned for the season. Thank you to the many readers who set aside a few moments to respond. It was a treat to learn about the summertime activities you are sharing with your animal friends.

With all this talk of books and magazines and newsletters, I’d love to know what you are reading this summer. Looking forward to hearing your new (or classic) recommendations!

With thanks,


Comments (33)

Although I listen to books daily when I drive (currently a Maisie Dobbs mystery by Jacqueline Winspear) and am always carving out time to read required books for work or professional development, it’s been years since I have had time to sit and read a chosen book the old fashioned way. This summer’s goal is to find time to do just that. No required reading, no books recommended by someone or some organization, no reading list book, no “everyone is reading this” book. Just a book that I want to read and just because I want to read it. So what’s the chosen book? Ramblin’ Man, The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie by Ed Cray with a foreword by Studs Terkel. Summer ends September 2nd. Until then think of me joining Mooch and Earl under that tree where they sit ruminating about life. And wish me luck.

Bozena Syska

Hello Patrick! Thank you for EVERYTHING YOU DO!!! I’ve just finished reading The Island of The Blue Dolphins – and for over a week now I’ve been saying out loud “WOW, what a read!” You can check it out here:

Laura Caplan

I envy your chance to see this precious wildlife before mankind and climate change drive them over the brink. A friend of mine volunteered at a S African wildlife refuge last year. This summer I am reading a lot of magazines, but also two books: Craig Ferguson’s Riding the Elephant (which does NOT extol the virtues of elephant riding, it’s a metaphor) and The Privileged Poor – a book about how elite colleges set students from under-resourced backgrounds up for success and failure.


I just read a sweet and touching book about hedgehogs — A Handful of Happiness: How a Prickly Creature Softened a Prickly Heart by Massimo Vacchetta.
Thank you for all your wonderful work.


Thank you, Patrick. Your heartfelt dedication to all animals is the most wonderful message you can give to humankind. Thank you for starting my days with the love and laughter from Mooch, Earl, Guard Dog, the squirrels and the rest of the loving and lovable ones! Big hugs to you all, Susannah


You are true inspiration, Patrick. Thank you for all you do! <3 XOXO

Abbe Funk

Patrick: Africa, my next journey. I have “The Power of Now” on my night stand. I will open it next. With the movie soon to be released, I recommend “Learning to Race in the Rain”. Loved that book. Don’t judge a book by it’s move… the book.

Pamela Larson

Hi Patrick! 30 year fan here so lucky enough to have met you and got a few signed books/prints. I also have worked with Animal House Rescue in Colorado and foster many, many rescued puppies, so I share your enthusiasm for all animals. I also recently returned from Africa (Kenya) and returned with about 5000 photos…but I am a photographer so I guess that is expected. Wondered if you visited the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi? It is an amazing facility started by Daphne and David Sheldrick that rescues/rehabs injured wildlife. No riding elephants or playing with them – just pure restorative work. ( I think you would love what they do. As far as books, if you want to read more about Africa, I recommend books by Delia and Mark Owens, early scientific and wildlife researchers. Daphne Sheldrick has also penned a few books and her and David’s work with elephants will inspire you. If you were not able to visit, you will when you return. And you will return.
Thank you for all of your wonderful work.
Jan Brett

Jan Brett

Dear Patrick, I love your work and the good you bring to the world. I had no animal related activities PLANNED for the summer, but three kittens walked out of the woods behind my home and into my heart as well as a small terrier I named Lil John. This added to my animal family as I already had a 20 year-old domestic shorthair male named Pawpaw and Tara King, my Blue Heeler mix, whose about 10 now. It’s lively around here, to say the least, with kittens wrestling, and Lil John harassing the kittens. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy Summer! Berna J. Love

Berna J. Love

Hello Patrick,
The journey to Africa must have been truly fantastic. I liked the dazzle of zebra especially.
I recently re-read the first 10 collections of Mutts, and found that a great many of them still make me laugh out loud, many others can still reduce me to tears. I have 4 rescue cats currently and have done rescue and TNR work many times. The love and truth you spread are unparalleled. I hope to be reading Mutts for many years to come.

As for summer reads, I’m awash with historical fiction: The Lost Girls of Paris, The Lilac Girls, and Unsheltered are the books I’ve read in July. These keep me away from the daily news…..but not the funny pages.

All the best to you and yours.