Willa's Reviews > A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life

A Good Dog by Jon Katz
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's review
Oct 25, 2007

did not like it
Recommended for: Absolutely noone!
Read in December, 2007

**Spoiler Alert**

Look into the eyes of the dog in the picture on the cover of this book and you are looking into the eyes of a troubled dog whose adoptive owner (Orson was a rescued dog) gave up on him and was too lazy to do the things that would have truly helped Orson. This is a horrid, horrid book about a horrid, horrid man who prides himself on being an amazingly wonderful dog lover, but who in the end MURDERS his dog because he just can't be bothered to take the time to ensure the dog's safety at the same time as ensuring the safety of those people who might come in contact with him.

Yes, Mr. Katz spent many, many hours working at training with Orson, and yes, he bought a home in the country so that Orson would have land to roam and enjoy, but ultimately those things came across as selfish actions, not selfless as he would have his readers believe.

He took Orson to training as a sheep-herding dog and admits that his goal was for Orson to compete and earn a ribbon. He says he wanted Orson to have a sense of accomplishment instead of the failure he seemed to feel so often, and yes, I do think dogs can feel such a sense of accomplishment and that it is very important to them. However, just think of all the failure Orson had to experience before reaching that goal of a ribbon, which ultimately allowed the author to show off in front of others and praise himself.

Living in the country. Sorry, I just don't believe that was all about the dog either. The author is an author and he wanted a quiet, relaxing place to write. I don't blame him for that, who wouldn't? Just don't try to sell it to me as some purely selfless action designed to help your troubled dog!

Yes, Orson bit three people. Bit them pretty badly. Only one of the incidents would have worried me, and that was when Orson bit the woman who worked in Mr. Katz's garden. However, even she admits that her actions probably spooked Orson, a dog she knew to be easily spooked. It's happened to me with a former dog of my parents. Twice. Led to stitches and everything. And guess what? That dog was kept and was loved just as much as ever before. Safely and happily, too, because we took the time to learn how to make him a safe dog and to properly supervise situations which might frighten him into attacking someone.

The other two people Orson bit reached over the fence into his dog run while he was barking at them. Okay, yeah, a pretty stupid thing to do. Okay, yeah, I agree that it's still the owner's job to make sure that doesn't happen. So, why couldn't Mr. Katz just keep Orson inside unless he was outside with him to supervise his behavior and to keep people from doing stupid things that might endanger themselves. Mr. Katz had stated multiple times that Orson, unlike his other Border Collie Rose, was perfectly happy to hang out in the house b/c he just wanted to be with the owner he loved. Seems like a pretty simple solution to me.

And after he's committed the murder of Orson, he tells us that an animal shaman has contacted Orson, who tells her that he wanted to be 'set free' from the confusing, scary human world and she thinks Orson may have attacked those people as a way to give Mr. Katz an excuse to set him free and that he's now blissfully happy. It's bad enough that Mr. Katz did what he did, but to give us this reasoning to justify it is truly sickening.

Yes, I know this review is interminable, but I don't believe in attacking a book without providing my reasons for speaking so strongly against it. Also, just look at the number of people involved who asked for their names to be changed in the book. Understandably, they did not want to be associated with something this truly awful.

Mr. Katz, you should be truly and thoroughly ashamed of yourself and you should never be allowed to care for an animal again.
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06/02/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Sharon My reaction to the books as well.

Teresa Spot on.

message 3: by Allyson (new)

Allyson Bousanti TY I will not read almost did I was have been horrified. I do not believ in putting dogs down for being a dog. They must be trained and rehabititated to undo the things we have done wrong. Rarely is a dog just dominant aggressivez very rare!

Jenifer I had a hard time with this book also, but in no way was this man lazy and unwilling to help the dog.

message 5: by Lnette (new) - added it

Lnette I found myself asking the same questions and passing judgement on the owner as well. He had strong beliefs in not humanizing a dog, that they are what they are (to him). We owned a dog that became very territorial as she aged. We put up beware of dog signs for starters and everyone was made aware of her changing nature and we adjusted accordingly with fencing, trips and walks. Was Orson completely unhinged and going to kill a child? We don't know. Obviously "the thought of that chance" was more difficult to bear than putting a dog down that he loved. Obviously he knew the scrutiny writing such a book would create and I do hope that it does create dialogue where it is most needed so that others with challenging dogs can find help they both need.

Serena Chalmers 100% agree.

message 7: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Busche Thank you for saving me from reading this book. I train dogs and it would have been extremely frustrating to read!

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