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honest reviews of Jon Katz book

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In 25 years or so of being "in dogs" (OK, so I've dated myself, somewhat), one thing I've noticed that spans all breeds and that is, the "instant expert"---the guy who wins one obedience ribbon and sets up his own obedience school (short lived--went on to become a politician), the guy who takes his bc to sheep and even though the dog busts 'em like bowling balls, somehow the story becomes embellished as an awesome 400 yard outrun, blah, blah, blah, the BYB's because that first litter qualified them as knowledgable, and so on & so on. It's just that Katz must have a good line of bull to sell himself the way he has to an unsuspecting public who is less than knowledgable about dogs in general. The fact that he is published lends him a monumental amount of credibility in the average Joe Blows eyes.

 

I didn't find his story amusing. I really don't think he's got a handle on the canine psyche at all. He's just an opinion that happened to get published----and opinions are a dime a dozen. His just happen to be raking in royalties for him.

 

Vicki

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Vicki--

That is why Melanie and I both plan to soon be raking in royalties ourselves.... we're at least as expert as Katz is.

 

You know, I'm a big fan of NPR, and they usually have such good people on their programs, so it saddens me a bit that they seem to have joined the Katz bandwagon (at least they redeem themselves a bit by carrying Patricia McConnell's "Calling All Pets"--at least she has some educational backing for her expertise).

 

J.

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Well, I hope people DON'T go around deciding to off their dogs because they've reached some number of years that the owner thinks is "old", particularly because "some expert" said it was. Age is not a disease. Hopefully their vet will tell them so.

 

I'm with Bill on the longevity thing... every dog ages at its own pace, but generally speaking it's only giant breed dogs that are really old at eight, although I had one Saint Bernard patient that died at 17 (euthanised due to severe hip disease, but the rest of him might have gone on longer if not for his unremitting pain), and currently a Dane who is 12 and much to his owner's delight hasn't a clue that he should have died 4 years ago. This is to say nothing of the many and many who are smaller breeds and therefore longer lived in general, who have been kept fit and given good care and will therefore live longer for that as well, who are happy as little clams at 11 and 13 and 16 and more. As long as they have good quality of life, who are WE to say they should be dead by now?

 

Fortunately, the dogs didn't read that book. I just hope that the owners who do don't put too much stock in that 8-year-lifespan thing. Most of MY clients, at least, are looking for things to do to extend the good years of their dogs, not excuses to kill them if they've slowed down a bit or are less convenient than when they were four and needed less care.

 

Loved your words about Molly, Bill. Maybe you should join Julie and Melanie in writing the end-all best seller of dogdom. I'd buy a copy of THAT one!

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So, what exactly is the consensus on this Katz guy? Does he know his stuff or what? Give it to me straight.

 

 

Sorry. Couldn't resist.

 

 

Let me try something novel and digress from the current topic.

 

Julie's NPR comment got me thinking back to when I first started listening to NPR. I was flipping through the stations and came upon somebody telling a story about his car that was so nasty from being a sheep & sheepdog utility vehicle that the car wash guys wouldn't wash it. Or something like that. I am not quite sure how it went because I only caught the tail end. But it was hilarious and, I found, it was Donald McCaig (who, I expect, gets a different reaction around here than the Katz guy). I decided that NPR was AOK. Does anybody remember that story? How did it go? Has McCaig ever had anything else on NPR?

 

charlie torre

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Charlie,

I heard him not too long ago on NPR (~6 months ago). He was still talking about the dogmobile, but I don't remember the story exactly. So I don't know if it was a repeat of what you heard or not.

 

J.

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I'm wondering if the eight year lifespan thing isn't to some degree repressed guilt about his Labs. I read Dog Year (and enjoyed most of it, I have to admit, although I was younger and dumber at the time) and was rather startled by some of the things he wrote about the Labs--he used to slather peanut butter on a rawhide pieces, and give them to the Labs to eat--several times a day! The pictures of the Labs clearly show that both were terribly overweight. The fact that one had congestive heart failure and the other had colon cancer seems to me pretty telling--if you were feeding a human things like that, you'd expect them to come down with similar diseases.

 

Cheers, MR

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McCaig had quite a series of NPR commentaries about his life on a sheep farm. Nearly every one included stuff about his dogs. Many of these commentaries appear in his book "An American Homeplace." The piece about the Subaru was the last one I heard, and that was a good many years ago.

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An American Homeplace is an excellent book. I would recommend it to any of you. I was truly surprised to read that Don had come from NY advertising (?) to life on a farm, since I had known of him only through the Nop books and from sheepdog trials in this area. A really good read.

 

J.

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You can go to NPR.org and put in McCaig and you can listen to all of his commentarys. I plan on starting at the beginnig and then going on to Baxter Black next :rolleyes: . I plan to order his book

if I can find it used( That scottish thing again).(yes I work from time to time)But I don't plan on adding to Katz's coffers in the near future.

As for dog ages, I have a BC who will be 16 next month and my yellow lab who lived to be 15. My greyhond is 10. So much for his theorys, I think the worlds oldest Great Dane just came to the hospital he is 11, and to my SHOCK & AMAZEMENT :eek: they actuly treated the dog and sent him home. I know that isn't the norm for big dogs, but gee it does happen from time to time. Sorry I don't know why that article irritated me so much.

Andrea D.

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I agree, Julie. Actually, reading that book has played a significant role in My Big Plans For The Future.

 

Andrea: That's great, thanks!

 

charlie torre

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The story about Harry just about did me in, but it turned out to be ok. And check out Ruth, short for Ruthless.

Andrea D.

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After reading Eileen's post about the disgusting article Katz wrote and what he has to say about rescue work, I am outraged. Surely there must be someplace where letters can be sent......to the editor of that publication?(actually one could simply cut and paste Eileen's post, if she didn't mind) to point out that this guy is not only clueless, but also ignorant and a hypocrite who cannot get his story straight. Guess he figures that he can rescue a dog and be a hero for it, but the rest of us who do so are in some way lesser beings than he is and must "fill a gap" in ourselves because there's something wrong with us. And if he thinks that any rescue group in the country has to go looking for dogs to take in, he is so woefully ignorant as to be dangerous, and ought not to be writing anything about dogs that anyone else will ever read. I sincerely hope that no one anywhere is taking anything he says about dogs to have any value. I know I am preaching to the choir here, but just had to get this off my chest.

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You're not preaching to the choir at all. I know for a fact that at least one shelter -- the Monadnock Region Humane Society -- has sent vans after loads of puppies in Virginia because there weren't enough for adoption locally.

 

They considered it part of their mission because the pups "probably" would have ended up in shelters that don't have a no-kill policy.

 

There was quite a bit of controversy over the matter a little over a year ago, and one of the shelter director's defenses was that everyone is doing it.

 

This is different from breed rescue, I realize, and it is a phenomenon that is more or less limited to the Northeast. But it is a real issue. The charge from critics was that the shelter was essentially setting itself up as a politically-correct pet shop, and enabling puppy mills in other parts of the country to unload litters -- not far off the mark in my estimation.

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We have a very similar situation here. It's the Animal Protective League and because it functions largely on donations, it is the one that get's all the media attention for adoptions, dog events, etc., presenting themselves as the warm & fuzzy do-gooders. However, it's never publicized that they routinely go down to Broward (sp?) county in So. Ohio to dog buncher auctions and buy up litters of pups to bring back up here.

 

This wasn't well publicized until someone called them on it & brought not-so-positive media attention to this organization. They mumbled some excuse that the puppies bring in people to look at the older dogs & then it suddenly dropped from the media------just like when they were put on the spot about a $20,000. discrepency on their books---that issue also disappeared from the public's eye.

 

So with a good PR department, a good media relationship they aren't really anwserable to a lot of people-----Sorry this is getting off course. I just wanted to make a statement that litter lot buying by organizations that are supposed to exist for animal welfare are more the norm than we may think.

 

And, as Bill said, this is different from independent rescue and I still think John Katz makes an ass of himself.

 

Vicki

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Marin County HS (just north of San Francisco CA) ships in dogs because they don't have enough. However they don't bring in puppies, they transport dogs from shelters in other counties who are completely overwhelmed with masses of abandoned and unwanted dogs....dogs that will be euthanized. I commend Marin County for doing this as they do an excellent job at rehoming dogs and providing life long support, releaving overcrowded shelters in other communities and saving good dogs. Marin County is a great place for a dog...the community is affluent and there are plenty of dog friendly areas. When I was working in rescue we had identified Marin as a key region to adopt dogs.

 

If they were supplied by puppymills then that would be wrong....but they're not, they are acquiring dogs from out of community shelters that are bulging at the seams and euthanizing daily. I commend their policies.

 

Elizabeth

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Julie & D'Elle,

 

Slate is an online publication, and as far as I know it doesn't have letters to the editor in the normal sense. There is a place called The Fray where you can post short comments for a little while after an article is published, but that time has passed for the Katz article I linked to, and in any case it doesn't appear that the author would ever see them.

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Dog books I didn't like? Fred Gipson's "Old Yeller" and Wilson Rawls' "Where the Red Fern Grows" came immediately to mind (I know Eileen, you weren't talking about those kind of books, but I couldn't help it). I was very young when I read them, I thought about those dogs for years and it took me a long time to get over the endings and appreciate the books - in fact, had to grow up to do it. I'm currently reading Derek Scrimgeour's "Talking Sheepdogs," much easier on the heart... and extremely good for the mind.

 

Anyway... there's a 2002 e-mail interview with Mr. Katz (currently published on-line at workingdogweb) that ends with Mr. Katz saying:

 

"I feel as if lifetime of dog experiences was compressed into a single year, and I wanted to share it. Please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] about dogs in general or about the book, and thanks for this opportunity."

 

If the e-mail is still active, perhaps some would venture to ask some questions of, or share comments with, Mr. Katz. If nothing else, maybe when/if "A Dog Year - Revisited" comes out it will be a bit more conscientious.

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Yipes.

I guess I got an eye opener on what some rescue groups in other parts of the country are doing. I only recently got involved at all with dog rescue....until I moved here a year ago I didn't know it existed, and mostly what I know about is the BC rescue here in Southern California. I do know that it seems every rescue group here, breed specific or all-breed is overwhelmed and frequently turning down dogs who then often get killed. But of course, this is a huge metropolitan area, and maybe that is why. I guess I should not be surprised at anything that people will do, although for a rescue group to support puppy mills by buying up puppies to adopt out just seems too ironic. Talk about supporting the problem that you are supposedly there to work against. I appreciate the information on this even if it doesn't make me feel good to know it. :rolleyes: My opinion of Jon Katz doesn't change, of course.

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D'Elle, I think there's a difference between rescue groups (which are usually breed specific) and shelters/humane societies. I am shocked that shelters would buy pups from puppy mills or auctions, I must admit, but I would bet the farm that no rescue group does that.

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