I guess I got too hyped up for this book because of glowing recommendations from friends. It was certainly entertaining, a really fun read. The writin...moreI guess I got too hyped up for this book because of glowing recommendations from friends. It was certainly entertaining, a really fun read. The writing does get better as it goes on.
Ultimately I thought it was a little predictable, some of the metaphors heavy-handed. But I like the way it wrapped up, and I appreciated the complete lack of romanticism throughout.(less)
Throughout most of this book I got a very vivid picture of Mr. Behan's childhood and his relationship with his father. I got a less...more"Burying the Lead"
Throughout most of this book I got a very vivid picture of Mr. Behan's childhood and his relationship with his father. I got a less vivid picture of his dog theory. I think this is because the book was poorly edited. There's good or at least thought-provoking content in here, but it's buried beneath a river of tangents and hammered into a confused and confusing framework.
It wasn't until Part IV ("The Dog in Your Life") that I was able to sink my teeth into the jute of the matter. Behan's theory is essentially that dogs don't "think" or have any sense of time or forethought or memory. Instead, they run on pure primordial emotion. I can partially buy this from a neurological perspective but I think it's a reductionist outlook. I'm no scientist or animal behavior expert but my "waaaaiiiiit a minute" alarms were going off a lot while reading.
From the human perspective, Behan's theory boils down to Freudian psychoanalysis, specifically object relations. "What do you like about your dog? Well, that's what your parents told you you needed to do/possess to earn love. What don't you like? Well, that's what you're repressing about your own nature." I personally do believe that object relations and early childhood experiences shape your personality and are the source of a lot of maladaptive behavior. So, I can swing with that.
What I can also buy is that the dominance model of dog training is unnervingly popular and seldom questioned. I like to see criticism of that model because otherwise it will never advance. Again, toward the end of the book (the final section should have been the beginning) Behan discusses the general decline in mental and physical health of formerly stalwart breeds (labs, dobermans, retrievers, etc). He concludes this is reflective of everything that's wrong with the dog industry and how dog-owners are educated. I don't know if he's right but I'd like to see that hypothesis tested. I also agree that there has to be a better way than applying the same trendy salve and feeding dogs anti-depressants.
I don't know. I can speak more to the text itself than the content. You could trim much of this book, leaving only the fourth section intact, and totally preserve (if not improve) reader comprehension. Every chapter needs more examples of Behan's training in action, to elucidate the abstract principles of his theory--which is hard to grasp because of its sheer novelty. Maybe that's what "Natural Dog Training" (another book by Behan) does. I have no idea. I just know I spent a really long time slowly reading this book and dog-earing (heh) page after page, only to feel like I was mostly chasing my own tail. The fourth section works best because it begins to bring in more relevant examples of Behan's actual training.
Also I wish the word "sensual" was used less, especially in connection with guts and haunches and o-ring valves. I get it and all but I was still left feeling vaguely dirty.
I'm sure that Dr. Dodman is a terrific vet, but he's a terrible writer--so much so that I considered putting the book down several times. Here's an ex...moreI'm sure that Dr. Dodman is a terrific vet, but he's a terrible writer--so much so that I considered putting the book down several times. Here's an example from the first page of the 'Somerset Farm' chapter:
/// "Dr. Dodman, your next appointment is here," prompted the receptionist at the front desk as she slid a case record a couple of inches closer to me.
"Thank you, Gina," I replied, glancing at the owner's and dog's name on the outside of the manila file.
Gina swept a few wayward strands of her long dark hair away from her indigo eyes and flashed me an impish smile. "Have fun with this one," she said.
"I always do," I replied with a grin. ///
This isn't even one of the worst examples, but the one that I recall most clearly because - what the fuck. Indigo eyes?! Jesus. It's great that you're attracted to your receptionist, doc, but this reader is not interested.
I can't fathom why this was written in a first person narrative style. The dialogue feels - beyond forced - this is not how people talk. The stilted exchanges made me question the truth of the anecdotes.
All that said, I still enjoyed the stories at the heart of most chapters. I thiiiiiink I picked up some good nuggets about pet behavior, and I liked the little indexes at the back of the book.
One final complaint--the pitbull chapter. Again, I defer to Dr. Dodman's experience, but I don't agree with his belief that all pitbulls are genetically flawed. He uses one anecdote, one bad experience where a pitbull was raised right but still turned out aggressive, to conclude that all pits are bad news:
"[Nigel, pit owner] used to think that a responsible dog owner who interacted and cared for his dog properly would never end up with a hound from hell. He now knew better and swore that he would never own another pit bull. Despite his realization that faulty genetic wiring underlay Tucker's aggression, Nigel was still extremely attached to his dog, and it was with a sorrowful heart..."
This is dangerous thinking. I don't like sweeping judgements, especially ones based on a single experience. This conclusion is so contrary to the book's primary message--that each dog and cat is a sentient, feeling individual--that I had to call it out.(less)
***NOTE*** Choosing not to re-write this in the wake of the news that Lehrer fabricated Dylan quotes. Nonetheless, am incredibly saddened to learn thi...more***NOTE*** Choosing not to re-write this in the wake of the news that Lehrer fabricated Dylan quotes. Nonetheless, am incredibly saddened to learn this, as I loved this book. The news does make me question the integrity the rest of Imagine's content. So I leave this as a caveat for the review...
Very inspiring and relevant to me, personally. Many reviewers have stated that this is simply a collection of anecdotes, without scientific backing. I'm puzzled by this; sure, the book contains anecdotes, but many of those anecdotes are carefully cited summaries of scientific studies. Whatever.
This was an enjoyable read with cameos from famous, demi-famous, and unknown characters, all a pleasure to meet. There are societal calls to action that come toward the end--I wish we'd heed them. From changing the way we think about education to how we lay out our cities and workplaces, it's all reasonable and makes sense. Probably why most of what Lehrer begs for will never happen. (less)