October 22, 2009

Three Dog Books

Some people think that their dogs are "angels" or "fur babies."

I suspect (but I don't know) that most readers of this blog think that they are, in fact, dogs.*

But the first group probably has us outnumbered, and they are spending jillions of dollars on doggie mineral water, doggie day care, and doggie tranquilizers.

That group is chronicled in Michael Shaffer's One Nation Under Dog: America's Love Affair with Our Dogs.

Think of it as ethnography. And for a bonus, here is Shaffer's review of Alexandra Horowitz's Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, which sounds more cynographic.

Along with One Nation Under Dog, I have been reading John and Amy Dahl's The 10-Minute Retriever: How to Make a Well-Mannered, Obedient and Enthusiastic Gun Dog in 10 Minutes a Day. I like it because although it is a general retriever-training book, the Dahls address some particular ... issues ... known to those of us with Chesapeake Bay retrievers.

But the very best book on adopting adult dogs (which we have now done twice) was sent by M.'s sister-in-law, who volunteers with Stray Rescue in St. Louis.

It is Don't Dump the Dog: Outrageous Stories and Simple Solutions to Your Worst Dog Behavior Problems, by Stray Rescue's founder, Randy Grim (with Melinda Roth).

Follow Grim's advice and, Mimosa in hand, you can begin to cope with rescued dogs who suffer from separation anxiety, dog-aggression, extreme fearfulness, and many of the other problems that plague adopted adult dogs.

With chapters like "Dogs Who Lick Baby Snot" and "Cujo in the Dog Park," Grim realistically explains that as much as you can train the dog, maybe you just have to change the environment to make things better. Sometimes, if the dog gets in the garbage, moving the garbage is less stressful than trying to change to dog.

His motto might be, "The perfect is the enemy of the good [dog]."

Animal shelters ought to buy Don't Dump the Dog by the case and give copies to everyone who adopts.

*Dad used to say, though, that "dogs have by nature qualities than humans struggle to acquire," so even we Cliftons can get a little sentimental sometimes.


mdmnm said...


Thanks for the tip on "Don't Dump the Dog"!

Chas S. Clifton said...

I was prepared to be put off by Grim's book--afraid it would be too preachy or something--but it won me over.