It's probably now trite, in the wake of Bull Durham, to observe that the bulk of the work in baseball happens in the minor leagues. This has always beIt's probably now trite, in the wake of Bull Durham, to observe that the bulk of the work in baseball happens in the minor leagues. This has always been true, but the lessons of this obvious truth take time to be delivered. Dirk Hayhurst gives us a honest and unflinching view of the gritty and unheroic life in the minors, replete with its comedy, joys, tedium, and hopes. Witnessed through the eyes of a man who at first believed baseball could repair his own broken home life and redeem him personally, only to discover the men he had put on pedestals were "dirtbag savages" too. In the end, character transcends all:
"... Baseball wouldn't make my marriage work, just like it didn't make so many other things work, but a man of integrity can make any profession seem heroic by how he lives while doing it."
If that is all you got out of this book, it was worth owning for that right there. The last chapter is the diamond, compressed from the grief of an alcoholic brother and a dysfunctional family, from idiot teammates, crushed and then reanimated dreams, and hilarious, dumb hijinks on the road. Easily the best book on the game I have read in many a year....more
This review is of the audio book. Charleson's vivid, engaging, and even at times poetic prose limns a challenging but rewarding relationship with herThis review is of the audio book. Charleson's vivid, engaging, and even at times poetic prose limns a challenging but rewarding relationship with her new search dog, Puzzle. A golden retriever with all the puppy problems inherent to that breed, she must teach the pup all the usual skills of living in a human world while both take on the harder tasks of learning how to perform search and rescue. Puzzle must learn to use her nose and tell her handler what she finds -- while knowing where and when to ignore her handler's inappropriate instruction. Charleson, for her part, must learn to trust the dog, something that doesn't come naturally.
We learn, along the way, of Charleson's failed marriage, and how her involvement in air search and rescue eventually led to her interest in air scent and trailing dogs. She has a way for telling understated, humorous stories, the best of which involves a paying client who wanted to scatter a loved one's ashes from her airplane. Similarly, the story of how her ancient rescue Pomeranian Scuppy taught Puzzle much about using her nose is both surprising and delightful. Charleson, who reads her own book, is a fine and engaging reader. Highly recommended....more
Finally finished this after getting it some months ago; one thing it has convinced me is that I need to spend more time reading so I don't stay the slFinally finished this after getting it some months ago; one thing it has convinced me is that I need to spend more time reading so I don't stay the slow reader I have become.
Millan's successful TV show has spawned a number of books and videos, and this one has the feel of something tossed off by the demand of his publisher, and/or perhaps fans of the show. Millan often disappears here and yields the stage to a melange of "experts" whom I fear he may not have particularly well vetted. That list includes Robert E. Bailey, Bonnie Brown-Cali, the blogger (Terrierman) Patrick Burns, Martin Deeley, Barbara De Groodt, Hollywood animal trainer Mark Harden, among others, but perhaps most notably Dr. Ian Dunbar, who is the founder of, among other things, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers — a fact he has apparently omitted from his biography.
As with other of his books, Melissa Jo Peltier is his "with" writer, as well as a scriptwriter for his TV show, Dog Whisperer. While she turns out a grammatically correct and at times even enjoyable book, the flaws of the approach she and her byline author apparently elected to take are fairly significant. By refusing to endorse or disparage any particular approach to training dogs, the pair leave you in some ways as befuddled as before. As in Cesar's Way, he spends a fair amount of time — justifiably — defending his methods, before plunging into actual training.
I found myself considerably surprised by how well Dunbar comes off in this book. Millan spends a great deal of time trying to show himself open to Dunbar's training techniques, and attempting to resolve the differences in their views, which he minimizes. And indeed, Dunbar — perhaps wrongly famed as a cookie pusher — says, "We've got to make sure that [the dog] will listen to us even when we don't have food." That is, a dog's behavior must be proofed under multiple conditions, one of which is an absence of treats.
Perhaps the most moving part of the book came when Dunbar discussed "life rewards" as an end for the training process. Speaking as someone who owns two herding dogs, dogs bred to serve as their joy, to understand this is to grapple with a profound moral dilemma. We do not countenance slavery, yet these beings would gladly do anything for us in something like that condition. As Patrick Burns says late in the book,
"... A working terrier would rather work than eat, drink, or rest. The work itself is a self-validating experience for the dog; it tells him what he is, and that he is right for this world. When people ask me how I reward my dogs for going to ground and baying a critter to a stop end, I reply: 'I let them do it again.' They love the work, and it is its own reward."
In his extensive interview with Harden, Millan reverts to the star-struck little boy from the Culiacán farm, and it's clear some part of him still wants to be Lassie's trainer. Long after we've met him, he reintroduces Harden as a "Hollywood dog trainer" (p. 213), and spends what seems like the second-most space in his interviews.
Amongst the many interviews are a number of tips for basic (and some advanced) obedience training, but the smorgasbord approach seems to confuse more than help, a direct consequence of the incoherence from the multiple trainers. Anyone seeking clarity in advice will be sorely disappointed in that regard, though there are a few gems amidst the clutter. Overall, there are better, more coherent books on training out there....more
In the wake of his successful National Geographic TV show, "The Dog Whisperer", Cesar Millan has generated a huge army of haters -- by which I mean peIn the wake of his successful National Geographic TV show, "The Dog Whisperer", Cesar Millan has generated a huge army of haters -- by which I mean people who despise him irrationally without bothering to try and understand his methods. Deluded by the fetish of pure positive training, they routinely assail him, sometimes for things for which he was merely in the neighborhood. Because a lot of his training methodology looks, to the R+ cultists, like dog training from the 1930's and 40's, it must immediately be discredited.
I would love to use this book as a springboard for doing actual training, but unfortunately, Millan spends precious little time explaining his techniques, save to let the reader know (repeatedly) that dogs need exercise, discipline, and affection, in that order. He also speaks of calm-submissive energy (which the dog needs to have to listen to you) and calm-assertive energy (which you need to have to get your dog to follow you), but he spends almost no time telling us how this is supposed to happen.
Instead, Millan spends much of the book on his personal biography, how dogs relate to each other, and defending his practices on the TV show. In truth, his critics, here and elsewhere, are on very thin ice, for he is in the business of rehabilitating unbalanced and often dangerous dogs. The legions of clicker trainers who have never undertaken such a task yet still find it in their compass to assail, say, the (infrequently used) alpha roll, or even leash corrections, will need to show their bona fides in such matters to have even a shred of credibility. (Speaking as someone who has had such a dog, and has gone through an extended course with an R+ trainer to very limited effect, the insistence that everything can be trained with treats and lurve is just false. Disclosure: I presently have a dog under the training of a Millan student.)
In that regard, the book was a disappointment. We learn little of practical value in the book regarding dog training that couldn't have been published in a dozen pages. That isn't to say the book is a bust; far from it. Melissa Jo Peltier, his not-so-ghostly ghostwriter, is a fine prose stylist, and she teases out of Millan an entertaining and readable account of his rise to fame from his poor, Mexican immigrant roots.
Millan's critics likely score more points when they argue with his understanding of pack behavior; dogs aren't wolves, and there are subtle differences. But it's not clear to me just how much his methods depend on this, as he claims to have learned much of what he knows by observing the dogs on his grandfather's farm. Given the R+ crowd's historic aversion to thorough reviews of the scientific literature, this comes off as hypocritical.
Those seeking actual advice, it seems, will need to purchase the next book by Millan and Peltier, "Be The Pack Leader". In the meantime, this serves as a good companion to the TV show, for anyone wondering about Millan's background, and general information about dog psychology....more