Monday, March 31, 2014

A Dog Year by Jon Katz

A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me by Jon Katz is a sweet memoir about a man, his two Labrador retrievers, and how their lives were turned upside down when he offered to rescue a border collie which had been abandoned.  My mother gave me this book a couple of years ago but I didn’t choose to read it until recently and the timing could not have been more perfect.  Holly has been such a loving albeit disruptive force in our lives and I took great delight in reading about Katz and the chaos that ensued. 

The author does a lovely job of first inviting us into his home, describing his easy-going life.  His two retrievers, Julian and Stanley, are innately mellow, following him through his day, quietly resting at his feet as he writes, and being a companion to him and his wife.  Then someone who had read a previous book by Katz sends him an email about a border collie that needs a home.  Although he doesn’t immediately embrace the idea, soon enough he is at the airport, picking up Devon.  But nothing can fully prepare him for the intelligence, the weariness, the sheer willfulness of this dog.

You can see why I would gravitate to this book, although the truth is Holly has been far easier to integrate into our hearts and home than Snowdoll.  And the author pulls no punches when it comes to sharing his failings and frustrations as he tries to discipline a dog who manages to outwit him at nearly every turn.  Be prepared to fall in love, to cry, and to rejoice.  If you can’t imagine why anyone would or could love a dog, this book should sell you on the treasure a canine companion can be.  Katz does make a point of concluding his book with a disclaimer about adopting a border collie in particular but dogs in general.  Each breed has particular characteristics making some more ideal for certain lifestyles than others.  Personally, after reading this book, I know I’m not cut out for a border collie but I can see why the author would do this.  He writes so lovingly about the best and worst of his experiences that it would be easy to fall into the allure of not only owning a dog but a border collie.  As for me, I think I could share my heart and home with a retriever but, for now, I think we’re content with our two huskies.   

And a bit of Satia trivia for you . . .

My mother has only gone to two book signings in her life.  One was my step-sister's book signing and the other was for this author's book.  One of the titular "four dogs" was there with him and my mother asked his wife to sign the book.  Not the author--the author's wife.  The copy she gave to me was not signed.  Apparently that book was loaned to someone who never returned it.  So I had hoped to get in touch with the author and see if I could have him and his wife sign the copy my mother gave to me.  Unfortunately, this was one of the first of several books Holly devoured.  Oh well.  It would have been a wonderful gift, if I could have pulled it off.

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