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Dogged Pursuit: My Year of Competing Dusty, the World's Least Likely Agility Dog

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  209 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Best in Show meets Marley and Me in the hilarious (mis)adventures of an unlikely duo competing for glory on the pro dog circuit

An urban intellectual and a scruffy, disobedient Sheltie team up to conquer the Canine Agility pro-circuit in this hysterical account of the quest for glory in the competitive dog world. A cousin to the popular best-in-breed show, agility competiti
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 11th 2009 by Hudson Street Press
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Community Reviews

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Feb 26, 2016 Melki rated it really liked it

This was, beyond doubt, the only sport I'd ever seen in which one member of the winning team congratulated the other by licking his face.

When my current dog entered my life, I was stunned at how easy he was to train. He was not only willing to do my bidding, he was eager! The thought of attempting dog agility competitions briefly crossed my mind. I pictured Randy leaping hurdles and weaving around posts. He would have been good at it. Unfortunately, taking part in the trials would have required
Sep 22, 2009 Trish rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, animals
Rodi is completely crazy, but he does get a laugh every chapter or so. This is a good read for other crazy people who entertain the idea that your dog may like to get out and run an obstacle course every day or so. Also a good book for those with short attention spans or schedules broken into short segments. You can read to a laugh and put it down on a high note every couple pages. Keeps you coming back.

At the end, I was rooting for Dusty and Rodi as though they were relatives--that must be the
Miriam Hoffman
Aug 04, 2009 Miriam Hoffman rated it it was amazing
As the owner of two rescued Shelties, this book was especially close to my heart. My dog Lucy actually came from the Illinois Sheltie Rescue, the same place this dog came from. A wonderful quick read about what we do to our dogs thinking that they are more like us than they really are amd what we can learn once we get over that notion. The book made me want to enroll my dogs in agility classes and get another dog.
Stephanie Jewett
Apr 19, 2016 Stephanie Jewett rated it really liked it
First of all, I love dog stories. But only the ones where the dog doesn't die. So this book had a boost for me just because of the subject. The writing was also witty, and the chapters were short, leading to that "just one more chapter" mentality that keeps me from doing other things that I should be doing (like going to sleep). The author's love for his dog shows through, and that was nice, but I was bugged by his constant need to show us, the readers, how he really doesn't fit in with his swea ...more
Jun 29, 2009 Anne rated it really liked it
Some good friends of mine have a Sheltie who's been a bit of an also-ran in agility competitions, so I was interested to read this memoir. It turns out to be incredibly funny, fascinating, and sweet - a real love letter to an underdog. Plus a bonus to animal lovers: this is one pet memoir where the pet does NOT die at the end!
Jul 26, 2009 daysgoby rated it it was amazing
I woke up my husband. Twice. Snorting to myself, trying not to shake the bed so he'd wake up AGAIN.

This is FUNNY. If you liked Marley and Me (and by that I mean the BOOK) you'll really laugh at this. It's worth getting up in the middle of the night out of your warm bed to go downstairs and sit on the sofa with the dog for.
Aug 27, 2014 Michelle rated it it was ok
The title of the book is somewhat misleading; Dusty, while having some challenges in competing in agility, is by no means the world's least likely agility dog. While he may be the product of poor breeding and a rescue, he is a sheltie, and from the descriptions throughout the book, seems quite competent at basic agility skills. The problem seems to lie more with the expectations of his handler, the author. We see that the author is aloof and a bit of a fish out of water when it comes to interact ...more
Jul 15, 2009 Misa212 rated it did not like it
I suspect that the people out there (in here?) who do agility because their *dog* finds it as rewarding as they do will also have to set aside the many icky, clasping-head-in-anguish moments that this book describes. This book is not a how-to-train-your-dog book in any sense, which is a huge relief. I am disappointed that during the many instances of problems catalogued here that the author didn't stop and do serious re-examination of his relationship with his dog, and then re-approach the whole ...more
Mar 26, 2016 Mindy rated it it was ok
Shelves: competition, dogs
The author successfully competed in numerous agility courses with his first border collie. Unfortunately, the dog comes to a poitn where she can no longer compete. So, the author finds an "unadoptable" border collie ("ugly" with lots of issues) and knows this is the dog for him, believing he can change the dog with lots of love and a job. The dog has other thoughts, however. This dog is difficult to train and is somewhat of an embarassment to the author as he already gained notariety with his fi ...more
Apr 09, 2010 Carol rated it liked it
Entertaining, humorous, touching at times, but there were a couple things I didn't like. I'm no dog trainer, but it seemed like Dusty was being pushed too much to do something he didn't really want to do. And the author's snobbishness was a bit much. Maybe he was trying to point out that both he and Dusty were fishes out of water, but sometimes it just came off as condescension.
Jun 30, 2009 Judy rated it it was amazing
Yes, the author is a dear friend, but I consciously kept a distance. This book is a glorious read - even if you're not a dog freak. As much of a memoir of Rodi and Dusty, it's a coming-of-age of sorts for the very-adult author. It's wonderful to see his world open up in a way he never expected.
Jan 11, 2010 Leota rated it it was amazing
Entertaining and delightful reading, especially for a dog person like me. Dusty is a rescue dog who challenges Rodi at every turn. Rodi also gets a bit far afield on his efforts to understand his renegade.
Emily-Jane Orford
Dusty is not the only one who's on a learning curve. He's taking his owner/handler, Rodi, along with him. It's amazing how much a dog ressembles its owner. Dusty is shy/Rodi is shy; Dusty doesn't like noise and crowds/neither does Rodi; Dusty has several insecurities due to his previous homes and owners; Rodi mirrors these insecurities but for other reasons. It's not until Rodi steps back (or perhaps I should say, forced back due to some unforeseen circumstances) that he sees his dog, he sees Du ...more
Rob starts running Agility with his first Sheltie Carmen but when she starts having hip problems he adopts another Sheltie, a high-strung and neurotic dog, named Dusty. He starts training Dusty for Agility and this is the story of Rob and Dusty during their first year of competition. Rob is neurotic as well and so in some ways it is a good match but often they seem to acerbate each others anxiety and anti-social behaviors. When Rob seriously breaks his ankle he has to retire from Agility until ...more
Apr 10, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: dog
Another (dog related) book I had had high hopes for and just for some reason did not deliver. Actually, I know why this book didn't deliver. The author annoyed the HELL out of me. I pictured the protag as the (gay) guy partner on SMASH and while I like the character on tv a lot, this guy was just a high class ass. I am too high and mighty to congregate with the masses, so I'll sit in my car and eat my fancy salad. Leave the burgers and fries to the underlings. OH PAH-LEEEESE. Get off your high h ...more
Dec 05, 2012 Tracy rated it it was ok
I really struggled with this book and actually read it twice just to make sure that I felt what I felt.

Rodi comes off rude to his fellow competitors. Maybe we was thinking that his market was the "Marley & Me" market who would like to hear about how strange all those agility people were? But instead, as a dog sport competitor, I felt that he was demeaning.

Also - who was your agility coach? Because they should have said to you that you dog did NOT want to play the game. It was embarrassing an
Samantha Shelby
Jun 17, 2012 Samantha Shelby rated it did not like it
I picked up this book for 50 cents at a rumage sale because I love dogs and thought it looked interesting. It isn't. Fortunately, it was a quick read, and I got through it in one slow day at work. But unlike People Magazine's claim that it was 'hilarious', I didn't find it at all so. The author was a total snob, repeatedly mentioning his 'cultured' tastes in music, food, etc. at the expense of everyone else around him; his better-than-thou view of his familiar city setting in comparison to the s ...more
Jan 03, 2016 Deborah rated it liked it
As the owner of a Sheltie, this book gave me hope. Toby is not as ornery as he could be & it was good to
see someone soldier on in the face of so many disappointments. It also reinforced the idea that the dog is no better than its owner when it comes to competition. I think Toby & I will return to Rally this
year & give it another go. Maybe try our hand (or paw) at agility too!
Jun 15, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: dog lovers, show dog trainers
Recommended to Mike by: no one...found it on the shelf at Boirders
As someone who is a current dog owner. I've never gone beyond basic training for my pooch. This book by Robert Rodi gives us a glimpse into what it takes to own a competitive show dog (agility tryouts). Or does it?

This book dwells on the life of Dusty, a Sheltie the author picks up from the dog shelter and attempts to train in agility contests, much like he did with his other dog, Carmen. Follow them as they go from contest to contest and see how Dusty is "king of the home" but once competing is
Oct 23, 2014 Lynda rated it it was ok
Starts out amusingly enough but after awhile I tired of the author's self pity and self focus. I didn't feel any sense of progression and just ended up feeling badly when he persisted with a dog who just didn't seem to enjoy the events.
This is a light, funny read about a man who rescues a sheltie and then tries to get him to do agility training. The dog, who can actually DO the agility things except the teeter-totter, has different ideas when it comes to actually performing.

Robert, otoh, is rather like me in the sense that he's not too quick in the general socializing department. So it was interesting to me how he dealt with his non-social tendencies and became part of his town's agility group.

If this were fiction, it would en
Susan Mertins
Aug 21, 2015 Susan Mertins rated it it was ok
Sad tale as the author never gets dogs. It's all about him. The dog was incidental to his winning.
Jun 21, 2015 Lynn rated it liked it
Funny especially if you run agility with your dog, like I do!
Nov 13, 2014 Kerri rated it liked it
I liked this book because it was nice to read about what happens at agility trials, but the authors snobby attitude became a little distracting. He made some nasty comments about overweight participants and I wouldn't want to be near him at a trial. I think my favorite part of the book was when his partner takes over handling dusty because I can relate to Jeffrey's enthusiasm. I also liked reading about Dusty because my sheltie shares many of the same temperament characteristics.
Nov 04, 2015 Amanda rated it liked it
If you are a dog person with a sense of humor about yourself and your fellow obsessionists, you will like this book. You will recognize yourself in at least some of Rodi's fellow dog agility enthusuasts.

I enjoyed this story a lot because so many of my beloved dogs have been half to three-quarters crazy. It is easy to love Lassie and other perfect dogs, but the work you put into the mad ones makes them the ones who have a special place in your heart.
The parts with Dusty the most enjoyable, but I felt badly for him in that it seemed like the author was pushing him into doing something he didn't really want to do (especially in extremely cold weather). It seemed more about how badly Robert wanted to prove something. The author's attitude of superiority toward the other competitors became tiring, even though he admitted it was causing him to be an outsider to a wonderful group of people.
Oct 26, 2009 Marina rated it liked it
Having experienced the "agility crowd" I can relate to parts of this book. Some parts, however, I have yet to come across and hope to the agility gods that I never do (see the part about one agility team's pre-run "magic time"--and don't ask me to describe it to you). On the cusp of allowing mixed breed dogs into AKC it was fun to read about what happens there and his descriptions of the classes and obstacles were very good.
Apr 09, 2013 Kelly rated it liked it
I did enjoy the book, though I didn't really like the author that much. He was very pretentious which I understand was part of the story, but I wasn't all that sympathetic toward him. He didn't even seem that he really liked the dog he was working with. That bothered me. I did enjoy the book and read it all, but throughout the whole thing, I just wanted to give the seemingly unloved, unappreciated dog a hug.
Aug 05, 2011 Margaret added it
Shelves: 2012, animals
Enjoyable reading - the author was easy to relate to despite his music/food snobbery and neurotic tendencies (or maybe because of them!). I love that he not only came to understand Dusty and his partner better after going through the rigors of agility but that he seemed to be more at peace with himself as well. Interesting look into the dog agility competitive world.
Mar 01, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
You can't write about dogs without being funny. Dogs, as crazy as they behave, are merely a reflection of our own personalities. In this one, Rodi is driven to some self examination that is as enlightening and it is entertaining. His quest for fame in the agility ring is made even more humorous by the diligent disregard in which Dusty holds the whole process.
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Robert was born in Chicago in the conformist 1950s, grew up in the insurrectionist 1960s, came of age in the hedonist 1970s, and went to work in the elitist 1980s. This roller-coaster ride has left him with a distinct aversion to isms of any kind; it also gave him an ear for hypocrisy, cant, and platitudes that allowed him, in the 1990s, to become a much-lauded social satirist.

After seven acclaime
More about Robert Rodi...

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