What the Dog Did: Tales from a Formerly Reluctant Dog Owner
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What the Dog Did: Tales from a Formerly Reluctant Dog Owner

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  472 ratings  ·  86 reviews
"The best dog books are as much about people as they are about dogs, and What the Dog Did is one of the best."--Jon Katz, author of The Dogs of Bedlam Farm

Dave Barry meets The Secret Lives of Dogs in Emily Yoffe's funny and insightful look at all things canine. Filled with adventures of heroic dogs, lovable and lazy dogs, malodorous dogs, phlegmatic and incontinent dogs,...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Bloomsbury USA (first published June 1st 2005)
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The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth SteinMarley and Me by John GroganA Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce CameronWhere the Red Fern Grows by Wilson RawlsThe Call of the Wild by Jack London
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Community Reviews

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Carrie
Mar 11, 2011 Carrie rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: NO ONE
If I could rate this zero stars I would! This book made me extremely angry. This woman obviously doesn't understand dogs, their body language, or even how to treat them. Who thinks it's funny when a dog with separation anxiety jumps off the 2nd story of their home and breaks their leg?

Plus, when she told how she ran up to her neighbor's dog and it growled/snapped at her and she said it should be put down was the most stupid thing I've ever read. I don't know any dog that likes to be spooked by...more
Maggie
Yoffe, unsurprisingly, writes with warmth, candor and wit, but I did not find this 'laugh out loud' funny as so many reviews and readers proclaimed. Perhaps because, as much as I've longed and yearned and plotted, I have not yet joined the league of dog ownership.

Yoffe's humor favors sweet, apt descriptions (like calling umbrella-holding dog walkers in the rain "demented courtiers") and/or ba-dum-bump one-liners that often feel a bit forced and cheesy.

Despite its heart, the book is often rambli...more
Vicki
I actually ended up throwing this book away before I got to the end. If I could give it less than one star I would...
Teena in Toronto
I'd never heard of Yoffe nor had I read any of her columns. But I love reading stories about animals.

I took a dislike to the author right away ... I found her to be cold. I liked her sarcasm for the most part but in some cases I found it to be in poor taste.

Despite that, I enjoyed the book. There were lots of stories about pets that the owner had had along with people she knew. And I did applaud her involvement in BREW (Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare).

I must say, though, that I questioned...more
Jacque
Apr 12, 2013 Jacque rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dog lovers
Shelves: kindle
Maybe it's only because I own two rescue beagles, but this book made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt. Writing funny is not easy, but Emily Yoffe is a master at it. She intersperses her personal beagle experiences with other peoples' animal stories, as well as some background on the canine species, behaviorists, and other doggie details. Yoffe is a cat person too, so there's a little something for everyone here. It's a short read, so enjoy every word - the end of the book comes far too soon!
Sammy
I have been reading this and I just can't do anymore. I am so disgusted with the author that I just... gah. I cannot relate to her at all, as she talks about loving cats but proves to have no compassion for the dogs she refers to in positive ways. It doesn't make sense, and it is disappointing for me. I'm not used to dog books from "formerly reluctant" owners ending up still... reluctant. It just doesn't make sense.

Overall I'm just... frustrated with it.
Angela
Sometime books suffer when you revisit them: the funny/clever/poignant writing that you remember loving so much when you first encounter it just doesn't hold up to the memory in your head.

Lucky for me, that wasn't the case with What the Dog Did. I remember reading the book years ago, wondering why Yoffe's book - often touching, almost always amusing - never received even a fraction of dog-book love that Marley and Me did. I came across it at my library and decided to revisit this story of someon...more
Dionne
It was OK, being a true animal lover I disliked the wwoman a bit.
Paulette
Sep 19, 2008 Paulette rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Elizabeth, Nicole, Sunshine
A non-fiction book by a Slate writer. She was a cat person who got a dog under extreme pressure from her husband and young daughter. And she got a beagle...We beagle lovers know that beagles are hard headed, hard to train, and will eat anything no matter how many trips to vet it causes.

She wrote about her problems training the beagle and then invited readers to share their stories. Then she decided to foster dogs--more stories. The book resulted from her and their stories.

"As with small children...more
Ruby Hollyberry
I have bought multiple copies of this book to give people I know and still keep having to replace my own because I keep lending it out! I'm in rescue in my own little way (mostly transport and fostering cats, plus pit bull advocacy) and I have to say that people who aren't in rescue have no idea how many animal nuts are among them and how many animals said nuts have in their houses at one time. I love a book that makes me laugh and this is one of the few that I can't read without shrieking. Ther...more
Donna
Anyone living an urban life with a dog will be amused by author Emily Yoffe’s transformation from a “cat person” to a beagle owner. Emily told stories about her own dog Sasha and others that make my two dogs’ puppyhood look angelic.

If anything the stories just reiterate what I just told some friends looking to adopt a dog. Think about your own lifestyle and personality and adopt a breed or mixed breed whose personality fits your family. Don’t just pick the cutest dog at the pound. While a dog’s...more
Bianca
"Formerly reluctant" dog owner turned "doggist" Emily Yoffe writes about her life with her rescue beagle and subsequent foster beagles. Like any good dog book these days, this one includes stories of other dogs (especially very rascal-ly dogs) and their people and also touches on some of the important and interesting research on domestic dogs by Raymond Coppinger, James Serpell, and Karen Overall. At first, I didn't think I liked this book much--among the things that irked me was a fairly dismis...more
D'Anne
I loved this book. To the detriment of everything else in my life, I could not put this book down. I frequently read Emily Yoffe's "Human Guinea Pig" column on Slate.com and always found her to be quite funny. When I learned she'd written a book about her dog I couldn't wait to read it and, indeed, I found What the Dog Did to be as witty and engaging as her columns. I laughed out loud often while reading it. Anyone who has read and loved Marley and Me should read this book. In fact, I think this...more
Jennifer
I was laughing outloud reading this book. My husband actually asked me what was wrong with me when he kept hearing me crack up in a quiet room.

This book is definitely one I would recommend to those who own and love dogs and accept the acts of naughtiness that come with the same.

This book differs from Marley. That book had as much to do with the story of Mr. Grogan's relationship with his wife and establishment of his family. This book is almost pure dog anecdotes.

I am also now definitely convin...more
Joey Bryant
This book made me laugh so hard I had tears rolling. Having beagles (the token breed of this book) really made it HILARIOUS.
Peggy
Ever since a grammar school teacher read aloud Where the Red Fern Grows, with its gruesome and unbearable ending, I have mostly avoided dog memoirs. This despite (or because of?) my house full of hounds. But Emily Yoffe is Slate's Dear Prudence, and I've read enough of her columns to know she would write a funny and sarcastic memoir. It has sad parts, but you can't write a book about rescue dogs without confronting the fact that these dogs were thrown away in the first place. I didn't cry, but I...more
Becca
I read this after losing my almost 10 year old yellow lab and it was cathartic. He was a tough dog to raise and love, but love him I did. But some of the stories in here made me realize that I had it pretty good with him!

The writing is uneven and jumps all over the place but I appreciate this book for the stories. I needed them.
Anne
Much funnier than Marley and Me.
Wendy
This book confirmed some facts I had discovered about my own beagle - difficult to train/housebreak and given to mischief, yet the best dog I've had. I enjoyed reading about the author's fostering experiences; I had my own very difficult foster who snarled at and bit Chris, humped and snarled at my beagle and growled at little kids, yet was utterly loyal to me and eventually found her forever home.
Overall, the book reminded me I'm not alone in my (obsessesive?) desire to help dogs, and in my lo...more
H.S. Contino
Excellent!

The book includes a variety of touching, funny, and sad stories about pets from a variety of different owners. The book literally made me "laugh out loud" on numerous occasions. As the owner of a 4 month old black lab puppy, I found it both comforting and reassuring to read about other pet owners that struggled to house break and train their pets.

I would definitely recommend this book to others-- especially to pet owners!
Dana Gouin
I thought the mishaps the author had with various dogs over the years were relayed in a callous way. I'm still not sure how I feel about her being a foster, but she hung in there and maybe has learned some things along the way. Still didn't care for the many parts of the book but I did finish it.
Ann7398
This was a delightful tale of how a woman was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of dog ownership, and went on to foster dogs, and educate herself, and the readers, about breeds, health, and behavior. It's a fast read and funny - I laughed out loud more than once, which almost never happens. It will appeal most to crazy dog people, but I think normal people might enjoy it also.
Victoria
I really enjoyed this memoir following the story of one woman's transformation from cat-person to dog-person. It was a really fun collection of essays and hilarious, laugh-out-loud anecdotes. It hit a wonderfully uplifting note, and contains an interesting perspective on fostering dogs. If you need to be cheered up, this is just the book for dog-lovers! A lot of fun!
Brenda

Oh what a lovely book, I laughed so much at the various dog's antics, it reminded me of my late dog Bruno who once locked my husband and myself out of our hotel room and had to be rescued next morning by a waiter climbing up through a window to let him out.
NB, they didn't charge us for the extra room as all the guests and the management thought it so funny.
Melissa
I read this a while ago and have neglected to post anything ---
I'm totally a dog-person and enjoyed this story about how a cat-person fell in love with a dog -- Yoffe gives in to her daugher's pleas for a pooch and joins those of who stand patiently in the rain, cold and dark waiting for our beloved pups to do their business....
Julie
Little stories by a woman who was a cat person, with a child who desperately wanted a dog, and so she caved. Not only did the family adopt a beagle, but they began fostering other beagles as well. She also included stories of family members and friends, with their dogs. A fairly light, quick read, enjoyable if you are a dog person.
Tiffeny
Such an entertaining read. I think it's probably in the Marley Me vein of books (I haven't read that one yet, thus the guess). It also made me glad my dog is at least as trained as he is.
Gail
I liked this book more than I thought I would; some chapters actually made me chuckle out loud. Obviously, dog lovers would almost certainly be drawn to this book, but as the subtitle says, even "reluctant" dog owners (or people who aren't especially enamored of dogs) would probably enjoy it also. I give it a "thumbs up."
Mimo
Like the author, I was a cat person who ended up with a beagle because a member of my family wanted one so much. So I could identify her in that respect. There were moments that were laugh-out-loud hilarious and the book was an enjoyable read. However, I have to say that Marley and Me was a far superior dog memoir.
Jenice
This was a fun and witty book. Not only for dog owners. However, if you are thinking about getting a dog, wait to read this, it is not typical of dog ownership in my experience and is exaggerated for comedy's sake. If you already own a dog you will definitely appreciate him more after reading it.
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“As Winston Churchill said, "Dogs look up to you, Cats look down on you." It's just that I discovered that being looked at from both of those perspectives is where I want to be.” 0 likes
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