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

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  769 Ratings  ·  104 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, W
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
Great "Dog" Books
125th out of 792 books — 1,512 voters
A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce CameronIf I Should Die Before My Dog -- by Joe ConnollyThe Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth SteinMarley and Me by John GroganThe Call of the Wild by Jack London
Dog Lovers
86th out of 403 books — 492 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,268)
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Mar 11, 2011 Carrie rated it did not like it
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
Jun 08, 2014 Maggie rated it liked it
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
Apr 11, 2009 Vicki rated it did not like it
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
Jul 04, 2012 Teena in Toronto rated it it was ok
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
Apr 12, 2013 Jacque rated it it was amazing
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!
Oct 18, 2011 Sammy rated it did not like it
Shelves: to-trash
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.
Mar 30, 2015 Brigid rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: dog lovers
Very funny dog-centric biography about a woman who's not sure she wants a dog. Yoffe's sense of humor permeates the story of her journey to dog ownership and beyond.
After the hard lobbying from her daughter, Yoffe consents to research breeds, and realizes that "the dirty secret of dog lovers is that they enjoy the fact that every breed is impossible."
As Yoffe and her daughter start visiting shelters, they meet their first beagle, and it's all over. The research involved in choosing a rescued be
Mar 11, 2014 Angela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Virginia Mackmin
I like stories about dogs but this was a book about a lot of different dogs. you really must love dogs to read this book. I like reading about only one or two dog at a time.
Jan 05, 2008 Dionne rated it did not like it
It was OK, being a true animal lover I disliked the wwoman a bit.
Aug 28, 2015 Ellen rated it really liked it
I actually laughed out loud at some of the stories. I never had dogs until I had children and even then, I hesitated. But one of our boys wanted a dog so we got Muttski who turned out to be the funniest, happiest member of our family. When she passed, the same son who wanted a dog so much okayed the rescue of Sophie who was the ugliest dog I had ever seen. Even now, folks stop and point but we love her anyway. This book reminded me of the best and the worst of all the dogs I've met and never own ...more
Feb 05, 2015 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I picked this book up at my local library's annual book sale a few years ago, along with several other dog-focused books, because, hey, it was relatively cheap and anything about dogs is basically worth reading at least once by my standards, but I just finally got around to marking it off my "to read" list. Having skimmed reviews before picking the book off my shelf a few days ago, I was a little afraid that what I bought as an inexpensive feel-good dog book would end up leaving me depressed and ...more
Carolyn Amundson
The book is primarily about the horrible behavior of the adopted Sasha, the writer's beagle. The tone of the writing is in the vein of oh, woe, is me, but other dogs (stories included) are more horribly behaved. I was really close to DNF'ing this a few times. Fortunately, there are some side notes, like how dogs that detect bombs/currency/drugs are trained.

The biggest problem was the tone of the writing -- depressing. One story highlighted it all for me. A guy is dating a woman who is overly at
Sep 19, 2008 Paulette rated it it was amazing
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
Ruby Hollyberry
May 18, 2010 Ruby Hollyberry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bio-memoir, favorites
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
May 31, 2009 Donna rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
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
May 27, 2009 Bianca rated it really liked it
"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
Jun 01, 2007 D'Anne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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 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
Jan 19, 2016 Deborah rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed 3/4 of this book. Lots of laughs and such but then I found myself skipping over parts that the author included that were depressing and unnecessary. I can't understand why she did this. Anyway, other than the last part it was a very good read.
Aug 20, 2014 Andrea rated it liked it
Parts of this book made me laugh out loud (Roscoe and the husband's relationship!), other parts made me sad, and a bit was a little boring. As an owner of a sometimes less-than-perfect dog, I do love stories of misbehaving pups.
Jan 13, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 19, 2016 Stacy rated it liked it
I'm just not sure where the title came from because its really a book about lots of dogs and lots of people. But it was entertaining and well written, with some of the author's similies being really amusing.
Gail Longton Harper
Mar 31, 2015 Gail Longton Harper rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Parts of this book were laugh out loud funny. Parts, where she shared stories of dogs who were not loved and adored, made me sad ... as did the parts where the stupitity of humans caused injury to dogs.
Sarah Elizabeth
Mar 02, 2015 Sarah Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Yoffe has the excellent talent of bringing the souls mentioned on every page to life, from Sasha herself to Todd, their beloved trainer. Just as Yoffe was never a dog person before adding Sasha to the family, I'm fairly certain this book can transform anyone into a dog lover. Filled with humor and a few tearjerkers, I recommend this book to anyone in love with dogs or in need of a quick [adorable] read.
Kathy Govreau
Mar 04, 2015 Kathy Govreau rated it did not like it
I didn't even finish it. I felt sorry for all the dogs owned by this person. Maybe some day I will finish reading it to be fair.....
Joey Bryant
Feb 01, 2014 Joey Bryant rated it it was amazing
This book made me laugh so hard I had tears rolling. Having beagles (the token breed of this book) really made it HILARIOUS.
Sep 10, 2013 Peggy rated it liked it
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
Jan 09, 2014 Becca rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 23, 2015 Jami rated it really liked it
Shelves: dog-books
The biggest lesson learned from reading this is if you're thinking of getting a beagle, beware. That's not all Yoffe talks about, but it definitely is the cornerstone of all the stories she shares. And those stories cover all kinds of topics, from Yoffe's first pet, Brandy, to the unwavering love of Boston Terrier parents. Some of the tales told are humorous, others are heartbreaking. Every one is worth reading. And if you are thinking about taking a beagle into your home, you will get a devoted ...more
May 11, 2014 Anne rated it it was amazing
Much funnier than Marley and Me.
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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.” 1 likes
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