Bad Dog: A Love Story
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Bad Dog: A Love Story

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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  602 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Meet Hola. She’s a nightmare, but it’s not her fault if she tackles strangers and chews on furniture, or if she runs after buses and fried chicken containers and drug dealers. No one ever told her not to. Worse yet, she scares her family. Hola may be the most beautiful Bernese mountain dog in the world, but she’s never been trained—at least, not by anyone who knew what he...more
Audio CD, 330 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by HighBridge Company (first published January 1st 2011)
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Darcia Helle
Rather than a true animal tale, this book is more a story of Martin Kihn's battle with alcoholism, his life falling apart, then the process of putting it back together. In the midst of this, he and his wife buy Hola, a Bernese mountain dog. Kihn's inexperience as a dog owner, combined with the terminal state of his marriage, is a recipe for disaster for both Hola and Kiln.

While the focus leans more toward a personal memoir, Hola plays a large role in Kiln's recovery. The writing is humorous and...more
Carol
Have you seen the TV shows about how training dogs helps prisoners gain a sense of self-worth, responsibility and joy? This book, Bad Dog by Martin Kihn shows how developing a routine of training and unconditional love
have helped him pull away from the abyss of alcoholism.
It is not so much a story about Hola, a Bernese Mountain dog as a man’s struggle with alcoholism,the destruction of a marriage and the difficult road back.

Dog training can become an obsession, in this case, a good obsession....more
Rick
I loved this book because it's about redemption, humility and getting a handle on one's place in the world. The framework of all this is the training of a lovable, possibly untrainable Bernese Mountain dog named Hola. Hola's training is the road back to life for her alcoholic, wife-separated owner, who, along the way, learns just as much about himself as he does about his dog as they make their way--and not always without missteps--toward triumph. A poignant, heartfelt memoir that offers as many...more
Meghan
I loved this tale of a man struggling with his alcohol addiction, ruined marriage, and ill-behaved dog.

His writing contains dark humor, and I was laughing constantly at his metaphors. And although sections DO seem disjointed, I thought it gave me a better insight into the world as seen through bleary drunk eyes (I still vaguely remember that!) rather than a sign that the author was still drinking when he wrote them.

No, this isn't JUST a dog tale, and that's really what I loved about it. It isn'...more
Evanston Public  Library
Those of you who know me probably know that I am the proud mother of a 70 pound Bernese Mountain Dog puppy named Nora. When Bad Dog (A Love Story) by Martin Kihn was handed to me by a coworker, I immediately thought I would be reading a delightful “tail” of feel-good fluffiness and Bernese bonding. I couldn’t wait to get my paws on this this book. Now, I have to admit that I haven’t read Marley and Me, nor have I read Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. In fact, I do not nor...more
Carolyn Amundson
This book is in chronological order and is superficially about getting and training a dog. At first, the author is bringing out the story of his alcoholism, marriage troubles, and the bad behaviors of his dog. I laughed at the idea at his conclusion that the breeder thought he was a sucker and stuck him with a dog with a bad temperament -- it seems so many New Yorkers live in fear of being taken in by someone. While it's clear that the author was completely unaware of his own emotions at that ti...more
Sharon
Martin Kihn is a cat person -- and an alcoholic. When his wife, Gloria, convinces him to get a dog, they bring home Hola -- a Bernese mountain dog.

Hola runs amok for a great deal of the book ... which seems to match up with Kihn's life. As he enters recovery, and Gloria leaves him, Kihn decides it's time to work on Hola's training. His goal? To pass the Canine Good Citizen test.

The challenges of recovery mirror his experiences in the dog training world; both require self-mastery. Kihn obviously...more
Linda
Marty is funny, sophisticated, but at times raw and very real, too. This story of a man, drinking, a dog and marriage - and his recovery from all three - is at times funny and sad, heart-wrenching and joyful. You'll love Hola, too.
A little tale of redemption, not your usual doggy fare. Though I do love the little peeks inside Hola's head. Who knows?
Martin is just that perfect blend of snarky and self-deprecating, with wonderful little cultural and metaphorical descriptions that make you feel you...more
Laurie
This is a charming book about addiction and dog training and the parallels, which, before I read this I had never thought about. The author went to my high school and I was lucky to have met him through my brother. It's an ode to dog lovers with some laugh-out-loud moments and I will be giving it as gifts to all my dog owner friends and relatives.
Carey
i picked up this book purely for the cover. but it was a pretty good (true) story as well. i love dog books and this one made me want to get one just so that i could train it.
Jessica
Why train your dog? This tale will let you know why. It's a memoir about a man who bottoms out with alcoholism and joins AA. Meanwhile, his dog displays bad behavior including biting his wife. She leaves them. Martin stumbles his way back through sobriety by picking up a new obsession with training that was thrust on him by his AA sponsor. There are references to several training methods and works not mentioned in Cesar's Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog. There's plenty of black humor...more
Janet
So little about the dog...
Melmo
Not a bad book. It can be a bit difficult to follow at times but since the author is recounting his alcoholic days... somewhat expected.
I read these books simply for the canines and Hola is surprisingly likable even though she's a terror (no thanks to her previously clueless owner).

My main bone of contention is actually a small blurb near the beginning of the book. I believe the author has failed to contact a fair amount of actual breeders because he uses 'pet quality' as an example of a bad d...more
Sara
The author has courage in revealing much about his fight with alcoholism. But a wonderful dog comes into his life in the guise of a Bernese Mountain dog. Thus the story begins.
Dogs decided to throw in their lot with us humans over 500,000 years ago. This is a deep connection. Dogs love us and we love them. Martin, as are all alcoholics, is depressed. Nothing is going right in his life. Except Hola.
He and his wife try to train her in the basics of living with people. This is a half-hearted attemp...more
Steve
Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely... partially because I was a psych major in college and partially because I love dogs and have seen my share of behavior problems (some fairly severe) from my volunteering at the shelter.

The first quarter of the book is background upon the author, his alcoholism, and the events leading up to his wife leaving him and the totally untrained, un-socialized Bernese Mountain Dog, Lola. The author tries to be honest and amusing, and sometime his attempts at clever...more
Eva Leger
This is another I just happened to see at the library while waiting to check out. The title caught my eye of course. When I first started reading I wasn't sure I liked Kihn's writing but it grew on me as I kept going. He actually has a strange but likable sense of humor.
I don't know much about dog competitions, it's not something that's ever interested me, so I did learn a good amount while reading. As interesting as it is I couldn't ever see myself doing it and I don't think I'd like my dog to...more
Juliette Swett
Those of you who know me probably know that I am the proud mother of a 70 pound Bernese Mountain Dog puppy named Nora. When Bad Dog (A Love Story) by Martin Kihn was handed to me by a coworker, I immediately thought I would be reading a delightful “tail” of feel-good fluffiness and Bernese bonding. I couldn’t wait to get my paws on this this book. Now, I have to admit that I haven’t read Marley and Me, nor have I read Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. In fact, I do not nor...more
Julie Davis

Lorena leaves me with a handout titled "The Rules of Passive Dominance," which begins: "Ignoring attention-seeking behaviors is the highest form of dominance."

The highest form?

Attention seeking: Grabbing shoes and making you chase her. Soft sweet cries and I say, "What's wrong, Hola, you hungry doll?" Poke and pet, roll over and rub reflexively, even yelling "Drop!" when she's got our neighbor's kid's sandal in her mouth, shaking it like a squirrel that's dead enough already.

Negative or positive
...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I doubt I will finish this book. I expected, as the blurb said, a book about training an incorrigible dog. I am several chapters into it, and I find it is a book about the author's alcoholism. I stopped reading when on the page facing me I found a chemical diagramme of alcohol. Nothing wrong with that, but not why I chose the book.
I grew up around alcoholics and know they often have their own version of events, even of day-to-day facts. I learned by the age of 17 that if an alcoholic tells you...more
Skye
Bad Dog (A Love Story) by Martin Kihn, 2011, Pantheon Books, $23.95, 213 pp

Incredibly adorable cover! Catchy title! Excellent Writing!

Unusual premise: Bernese Mountain Dog puppy (Hola) in New York City grows into a huge, uncontrollable dog living with a talented writer (also a practicing alcoholic) and his wife who leaves him due to her fear of the dog. Can the author train Hola well enough to impress his estranged wife to move back in, if Hola succeeds in passing the Canine Good Citizenship (C...more
LaurieH118
I loved this book! Marty, his dog, Hola, and his wife all evolve in this book -- and the catalyst is the disease of alcoholism.

The author/narrator is very frank about his own frequently bad behavior and his struggles with sobriety. This lends credibility to his often unflattering tale and I felt compassion for him. He is just as honest about his problems handling the strong and clever Hola. As the pages fly by, he learns what the reader has suspected -- many of Hola's issues stem from the disfun...more
Victoria
I am sucker for dog books of just about any kind - in fact, last week I read a book dedicated to a dog, and I think I liked it all the more just for that dedication! And I did enjoy this memoir about one man's relationship with his Bernese Mountain Dog. I must say, that I was surprised at how dark it was. A large section of the book dealt with the author's alcoholism and his estrangement from his wife. Sadly, there were not a lot of "bad dog" antics to balance out these darker moments (but there...more
Eva
Martin is a man ruled by his obsessions. He’s obsessed with work. When he’s not working, he’s obsessed with drinking. Consequently, his wife, Gloria, is lonely. She thinks she will be less lonely if they get a dog. They get a purebred Burnese Mountain puppy, a breed which is the largest in the world. They live in an apartment in New York City. Neither one has ever had a dog before. Anybody see the train wreck coming?

Hola is a beautiful, loving dog, but instead of bonding with Gloria, she makes M...more
Suzanne
There is something compelling about the human/dog relationship story and to Kihn's credit, unlike other notable writers (Grogan's Marley & Me & Katz's "Good Dog") at least he works on training the dog and working with her responsibly. He does this while tackling his own behavior problem (alcoholism) and the story is a cursory tale of these two narratives. I really disliked the voice he gave to Hola (referring to him as "Daddy" and his wife as "Mommy-- particularly when the thoughts could...more
Denise
Aug 10, 2011 Denise rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa (ladybug)
Marty, a so called "High functioning alcoholic" (no such animal), and his dog Hola have problems. Marty's wife, after being attacked by Hola, leaves him. After this, Marty gets the idea that if Hola can pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) then his wife will come back to him. The book rambles, a lot, and reminds me of my Grandfather when he was drunk. I don't understand it, because Marty was suppose to have not been drinking at this time. This is why I just could not enjoy it. I also have a proble...more
Betsy
This is probably the closest I'll get to reading a "dog book" - whether it be a "Marley and Me" heartwrencher or a how-to-raise-an-obedient0dog guide - because it has a touch but not too much of that genre. It's more of a memoir about a smart, talented alcoholic whose marriage is on the rocks in part because of his unruly Bernese mountain dog Hola but also, although it's not all that clear, because of things like the author's drinking. What makes the book such a great read is the writer's wit -...more
Amber Polo
AA and AKC
I liked this book enough to finish it, although I ordinarily avoid books about alcohol abuse and badly behaved dogs. (Sorry Marley, bad dogs usually just make their owners look stupid.)
Kihn managed to add enough information about his and Hola’s path towards a Canine Good Citizen certificate and his own path to sobriety to keep me hoping the pair got there.
I loved that Kihn talked about books. Training books, behavior books, and best of all Susan Conant’s dog training mysteries.
The bi...more
William
If you can get past the first few confusing pages and accept the fact that, in spite of the title, much of the first half of the book is not really about a bad dog but rather about a bad alcoholic, you will continue to the end. Two captivating threads, somewhat interwoven, make this book very compelling. You will want to find out what happens to the author (who eventually earns your empathy), and to his dog (who eventually earns your respect) -- as well as to his marriage that is affected by the...more
Emily
I may be a bit biased as I am a dog-lover, but I adored this story. At first, the writing turned me off a bit, but once I got used to the author's style, I really loved it. The story was endearing and the relationship between the man and his dog has to be able to be understood by just about any dog-lover. I loved the way he wrote what the dog was thinking when he was in conversation with her in the spastic, food-centered way we assume our dogs must think. The story had me both laughing and welli...more
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“Every year thousands of dogs are abandoned to shelters because of behavior problems. And these are things that can be corrected with just basic training. Dogs are being killed because of lack of training, and that's what the Canine Good Citizen program is all about. (Mary Burch, AKC)” 3 likes
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