Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs and Me
By Jon Katz | Click
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As Jons story begins, he's leading an
idyllic life as a book and magazine writer with two stalwart canine companions, his yellow
Labrador Retrievers Julius and Stanley. Calm, devoted, steady dogs. And at the start, I
wondered where the drama in this book would come from for this pair was so well behaved.
Never fear. Jon is convinced to adopt a
Border Collie male named Devon, and thereby hangs the tale. From the first time Devon
escapes when his crate is opened just a fraction of an inch, we know Jon is in for a whole
new life. As the pair struggles to build a workable relationship, we laugh, cry and
discover compelling insights about the instincts, behavior and just plain smarts of
And what dogs mean in the life of a man
who, by self-admission, is not the most social person on the planet. [Read an interview with Jon Katz here.]
But wait. Theres another Border
Collie coming, a pup Homer, who adds yet another dimension to the book. By contrasting the
personalities and working instincts of Devon and Homer, as well as the two Labs to the
Border Collies, Katz gives us deeper insights into the specialized working breeds.
We see similarities in dogs of the same breed, but recognize that they are not made from
an identical mold.
Active Dogs in a Civilized World
While Jon likely set out simply to share
the joys and sorrows of his year with four remarkable dogs, a year when his daughter has
headed off to college, leaving he and wife Paula as empty-nesters, A Dog Year is
much more. It offers a unique look at the relationships between humans and active
canines in 21st century suburban America. How is this ancient relationship of people and
dogs being transformed for our new world?
Jon's dogs have two special advantages:
Jon's cabin up north in New York and his commitment to the full development of
their canine working dog instincts and skills. These elements expand the scope of the
book's adventures and add depth to the relationship between Jon and his much loved dogs.
The book is getting rave reviews and little
wonder, for it is alternately fun and fascinating, hilarious and heart-warming. I very
rarely say this, but this is a book that every dog lover deserves to have, to read and
reread, whether for the pure pleasure of it or for its many lessons. This small
volume is a gift to dog lovers, dog owners, dog trainers everywhere.
AUTHOR: Jon Katz in 2004 is the
author of thirteen books, six of them novels and seven works of nonfiction, with his three
recent books focusing on life with dogs. Recent dog books are The
New Work of Dogs: Tending to Life, Love, Family and The Dogs of
Bedlam Farm. A member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, he is a
contributor to to Bark magazine. Among his earlier books are Geeks and Running to the Mountain. A two-time finalist for the National Magazine Award, he has written for
The New York Times, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, and Wired. He currently
writes about technology, media, and culture for the Web site Slashdot.org, and is a
contributing editor to public radios Marketplace. He lives in northern New
Jersey with his wife, Paula Span, a reporter for The Washington Post, and their
college-student daughter, Emma Span. Jon Katz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Review by Barbara B. Petura,
Member, Dog Writers Association of America
PUBLISHER: Villard Books, a division
of Random House,
New York, 2002.