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The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout

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An instructive and marvelously entertaining chronicle of a puppy's first year, by the executive editor of The New York Times

One sparkling summer day, Jill Abramson brought home a nine-week-old golden retriever named Scout. Over the following year, as she and her husband raised their adorable new puppy, Abramson wrote a hugely popular column for The New York Times's website about the joys and challenges of training this rambunctious addition to their family. Dog-lovers from across the country inundated her with e-mails and letters, and the photos they sent in of their own dogs became the most visited photo album on the Times's site in 2009.

Now Abramson has gone far beyond the material in her column and written a detailed and deeply personal account of Scout's first year. Part memoir, part manual, part investigative report, The Puppy Diaries continues Abramson's intrepid reporting on all things canine. Along the way, she weighs in on such issues as breeders or shelters, adoption or rescue, raw diet or vegan, pack-leader gurus like Cesar Millan or positive-reinforcement advocates like Karen Pryor.

What should you expect when a new puppy enters your life? With utterly winning stories and a wealth of practical information, The Puppy Diaries provides an essential road map for navigating the first year of your dog's life.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2011

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About the author

Jill Abramson

14 books20 followers
Jill Abramson is a senior lecturer at Harvard University. She also writes a bi-weekly column for The Guardian about US politics. She spent seventeen years in the most senior editorial positions at The New York Times, where she was the first woman to serve as Washington bureau chief, managing editor, and executive editor. Before joining the Times, she spent nine years at The Wall Street Journal.

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5 stars
147 (17%)
4 stars
220 (26%)
3 stars
324 (38%)
2 stars
115 (13%)
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26 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 172 reviews
Profile Image for Janet.
144 reviews59 followers
October 21, 2011
Okay, my first posting was essentially a love letter to a golden I lost almost 2 years ago that still has me fully wrapped around the axle. Here's the real review: if the object of the writer is to inform or entertain and preferably both Abramson has come up woefully short. Jill, if you're listening you need to do more than put a cute photo on the dustjacket. Endless pages about the price of Purina Pro chow do not a book make. Most grating were her opinions on special services such as canine aquatic sessions and dogwalkers which she deemed too costly to be regularly scheduled events. C'mon, you have a country house in Connecticut and a loft in Tribeca and you're whimpering about shelling out $30 for you dog to swim in a heated pool in the winter? In my opinion, the basic shortcoming of the book is that the dog remains a dog on every single page - absolutely no anthropomorphism which is key to engaging the reader. We want to be regaled with stunning feats of bad behavior (a la Marley) that has the owner clamboring to be included in a witness protection program. There is one thing that does set this book apart and that is that the dog doesn't die at the end. Wish I could say as much for this dismal book.

Mind numbingly dull read about a golden retriever puppy. Perhaps I'm jaded but I prefer my canine chronicles to include a significant amount of bad-assery. All the goldens I've had have been totally unbridled id taking more house tours than a busy real estate agent. A few examples: a lovely gentleman approaches me on my Sunday morning walk. He points at my golden and says, "is that your dog?" Having had this dog for several years it was with great trepidation that I responded yes. He then says, "Did he have a wager on the Derby?" Total confusion on my part. He explains, "well, your dog came up our drive, through our back door, found me in my third floor study, jumped up on my couch, ate all my Spanish peanuts, watched the race, licked my hand and left." Another incident involved my golden crashing a summer cocktail reception, knocking over a couple tables before running upstairs and quickly high-tailing it out with a baseball in his mouth. Turns out it was personally signed by some baseball great heretofore safely housed in a lucite display case. By the time I pryed it out of his mouth, the signature was smeared beyond all recognition. Handing this saliva covered ball back was an absolutely magical way to make a new friend. My personal favorite? My golden inviting himself into a neighbor's home and wandering up to the second floor where he enjoyed a lovely drink out of their master bathroom toilet. I can still see their cleaning woman chasing him out with a broom and running after him hurling expletives in Spanish. They say there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. Bad owner here. Abramson is a highly responsible dog owner and she's boring as hell. 'Nuf said.
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,706 reviews663 followers
November 4, 2019
The Puppy Diaries by Jill Abramson

Narrated by Beth MacDonald
Length: Unabridged 5 hours on 4 CD’s
Published by Macmillan Audio, 2011

When NY Times editor Jill Abramson lost her beloved westie Buddy to illness she didn’t want to take the advice of her friends and family to “get a new dog”. She was still grieving and secretly unsure if she could ever love another dog as much as she had loved her beloved Buddy. I think anyone who has ever bonded with a dog, only to lose them, has experienced these same painful feelings. But before long her husband gets it in his head to purchase a purebred golden retriever pup and it seems he wears her down because she eventually agrees and these two 50-something empty nesters suddenly find themselves with a new white-gold bundle of furry joy whom they name Scout.

This memoir all about new puppyhood is read capably by Beth MacDonald who has a pleasant voice and kept me engaged. Author Abramson goes on to tell us all about her new life with Scout, a life she wasn’t quite prepared for, which she readily admits. She details Scout’s first friends, her socialization, food choices, vet trips, doggie daycare, etc. There isn’t a whole lot of new information here and if that’s what you are looking for you may be disappointed. This book is exactly what the title says it is “a diary of a dog named Scout”.

Abramson and her hubby are well off but she is down to earth and a little clueless at times which I enjoyed. She does drop a few famous names but if I knew those people I might be tempted to do the same. Hubby is the one who wanted the dog so desperately but as it often goes he seems to drop all of the responsibility and hard stuff on his wife’s shoulders and she is recovering from a car accident! That was not cool and his attitude bugged me.

Scout has boundless energy and gets into all sorts of minor mishaps like any normal puppy and though each little story is interesting enough there was really nothing new here and the author has a tendency to repeat her information. Later I realized this book was put together from a popular column the author wrote for the NY Times which makes a lot of sense. It isn’t always cohesive and is more down of a recounting of the facts than an emotion filled memoir. This book would’ve been a keeper if the author had let more emotion seep into in her writing and spent more time helping us get to know sweet but naughty Scout in a more intimate way. It was a cute read but it won’t stick with me.

On the plus side it is never saccharinely sweet and it ends with the puppy alive and well. Whew! So many of these dog books end with death and I just can’t deal with that right now. This one started with the aftermath of Buddy’s loss but ended with a bright new beginning. Read it for the joy of experiencing a new pup through someone else’s eyes without having to buy new furniture or pick up the poop :)
Profile Image for Kirsti.
2,456 reviews82 followers
February 23, 2014
Naw! Puppy on the cover! Of course I was going to read this book. My love for animal biography/memoirs is insatiable. I haven't been able to walk past one in a store without buying it since Marley and Me. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I picked this one up second hand in Canberra a few weeks ago. I love that this is the story of Scout's first year. There is no graceful, aging pooch on its deathbed here. I love the truly puppy antics, the chewed shoes, the leash pulling, the love. I read animal stories as a kind of verification of my own love for my band of pets.

Charmingly written, with plenty of dog but a little human too, four stars. I want more color photos though, to see Scour's unusual color. Golden retrievers aren't as common in my neck of the woods as America, I wanted visuals!
Profile Image for Deirdre Keating.
735 reviews49 followers
July 20, 2016
What a curious book. I enjoyed it, but I'm in that state just before getting a dog where you soak up everything you can find to prepare in someway. I can't imagine recommending it to anyone else or referring back to it. It seems Abramson wrote a blog for the NYT (where she is the executive editor) on her puppy's first year, and naturally, was able to get it published as a book.

There's lots of jaw-dropping anecdotes about rich Manhattan dog owners (doggie hospice?! Indoor Swimming pools for dogs...nightly grilled chicken?). Abramson has the money to indulge her previous dog's preference for wild-Alaskan salmon, and has access to celebrity dog trainers. I often worried that if this couple, with all their intelligence, education, and means, had this much trouble trying to train, what is in store for us?

She names all the same training books that are on our beside table, including the Monks of New Skete. So that's what I liked most in the end---that she took some of the abstract training ideas we're reading right now and showed how they worked or didn't in real situations. I couldn't help thinking she and her husband Henry were like new parents who embrace attachment-parenting and criticize sleep training but then end up calling the author of Baby Wise for advice after months of no sleep. Ultimately, just like parenting, it came down to time and trust---trust in your own gut and in your relationship.

My favorite line was the last when she quotes James Thurber: "'Dogs are obsessed with being happy.' This, above all else, is why we need them in our lives."
343 reviews4 followers
April 17, 2016
Given my love of dogs (and dog stories that end with the dog still alive), I would have thought I would have loved this book. Alas, it was not to be. What I didn't like about it boiled down to one thing: Please don't act like you're "jes' folks" when you're really extraordinarily privileged. The gesture may be well-meaning, but it's condescending. Given the author's and her husband's careers, their multiple homes in pricey locales, and their ability for one of them to jet clear across the country for a dog-training conference on fairly little notice, I don't believe FOR A SECOND that the price of California Natural dog food was especially shocking, much less the price of a trip to the dog pool or dog insurance. And please spare me the song and dance about the importance of adopting a rescue rather than buying from a breeder when you didn't do it and, in fact, never did it with any of your dogs. I don't think it was a mistake that Buddy and Dinah's origins at a breeder were not revealed until the middle of the book. I think I would have liked the book had this completely different experience of dog ownership been acknowledged and embraced at the outset. How awesome would it be to be able to consult with, say, Temple Grandin or Cesar Milan (granted, in passing, but I know I'll never be in the same room as him) when your dog was being obstinate? Pretty dang awesome, that's how awesome. Scout sounds like a lovely dog, and I'm sure the author and her husband are lovely people, but ultimately, I couldn't really relate.
Profile Image for Megan Burback.
161 reviews11 followers
December 1, 2014
When I first read the description of The Puppy Diaries I thought, hey this could be an interesting read. Maybe somewhat like Marley & Me. I thought the stories would be heartwarming and the dog’s personality would just jump out at you. But about thirty pages into the book I realized it wasn’t going to be that way.

To put it simply, it was boring. It came to a point where I had to force myself to continue to read it. Since the whole book is about the puppy, Scout, the reader has to feel connected or feel something for her to want to keep flipping the pages. What I felt was indifference. This book wasn’t a compelling read. It felt like watching a television show when the actors were reading right from their scripts-no creativity or expression.

Maybe it was because the author, Jill Abramson, was a former investigative journalist, and that type of journalism deals in facts and evidence, whereas a book like this needs lots of heart and fun. Unfortunately, the Puppy Diaries didn’t deliver much of either. If you walk by this book in your bookstore or library, I would just pass it by
Profile Image for David.
1,630 reviews102 followers
March 29, 2020
As a former (and future, again?) Puppy/Dog owner and lover, I could easily identify with many of the situations encountered by the author in The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout by Jill Abramson. It was a really nice break from the usual genres I read and brought back memories about our canine family members. While not intended to be any form of a how-to book on raising and training a pet, the author shares her personal experiences including successes and failures, the joy of bringing a new puppy home, and the deep sadness of losing a long-time friend and family member. I have experienced all of these and more as most animal lovers will agree.
321 reviews7 followers
September 8, 2019
Enjoyed this book, golden retriever puppy, positive reinforcement training, ticks my boxes
Profile Image for Brady Steigauf.
65 reviews3 followers
October 7, 2021
Informative but I have only one thing in common with the author and that’s that I have a dog
Profile Image for Wendy.
46 reviews1 follower
March 1, 2013
When Jill Abramson introduced her new nine-week-old puppy to the followers of her blog on the New York Times's website, she was unprepared for the overwhelming response. Within an hour of being posted, the first puppy blog was the number one most e-mailed story on the Times's website. The Puppy Diaries is an outgrowth of those blog posts. This is the story of how Abramson and her husband adopted and raised the British Standard Golden Retriever which they named Scout after the character in To Kill A Mockingbird. It follows Scout through her first year of life and includes both anecdotes and information about what to expect in a puppy's first year. While giving plenty of good advice, this is not a how-to book. It does, however, give the reader an idea of what it is like to bring a puppy into the household. Abramson discusses current philosophies of teaching discipline, of what to feed your dog and even where to find your puppy in the first place. She tells the reader what worked for her and what didn't and, in some cases, what has worked for friends and acquaintances. Above all, this is a funny, touching story about a dog named Scout and how he became part of Jill Abramson's family. A great book to read if you are thinking about adopting a puppy, especially for the first time. It's not a how-to book, but it will give you a good idea of what you might expect. She also gives lots of insight on raising a puppy in the city.
Profile Image for Sharon.
Author 38 books375 followers
July 17, 2011
Jill Abramson's chronicle of the first year living with her Golden Retriever, Scout, is not just another dog book. It's a story of grieving, and joy, humans and animals, and overcoming unexpected challenges.

Abramson tells a moving tale, from losing her beloved West Highland terrier, Buddy, to bringing home tiny puppy Scout, to all of the challenges of seeing Scout grow through illnesses to *very large* adulthood. Anecdotes abound throughout the book as Abramson and her husband examine the most popular training methods (clicker, lure-based, assertive pack leader) to discover which ones are most helpful with their boisterous new friend.

This is also a story about people, from the folk encountered at the Manhattan "funky run" dog park to the farmlands of Connecticut, as Abramson gets to know "dog people" in a completely different way.

Those who love memoirs, dogs and human interest stories will delight in this New York Times columnist's recollections of her puppy's first year.
November 5, 2017
I'm admittedly more of a cat person, but when my book club picked this title, I figured I was in for an entertaining read. My friend constantly entertains me with her puppy's mischievous shenanigans, so I was expecting a lot of sticky situations and embarrassing moments. Somehow though, the author manages to make this a mindnumbingly dull read and is herself an utterly unrelatable narrator. She tries to poke fun at the ridiculous expense some people incur to cater to their dogs, then does it herself on the next page. She remarks that people have a negative reaction when they hear that she's purchased a puppy from a breeder rather than adopting one from a shelter, but makes no attempt to explain her reasoning or defend her choice. She's more concerned with dropping names and illustrating how well connected and wealthy she is than actually helping us get to know Scout. If you're looking for an entertaining light read about raising a puppy, look elsewhere.
Profile Image for Rachel.
485 reviews53 followers
July 7, 2021
It’s really 2.5 ⭐️

Here’s the thing- I did mostly enjoy this book. The narrator was light and enjoyable.

My own personal life of moving and having zero time to commit to the book was completely on me (and very much why it took so long to finish). However, as I got closer to the end I realized I didn’t really care about finishing it. And, *gasp!* I actually skimmed the last four chapters😅.

I mostly just wanted to know how it ended- correction I mostly wanted to know if this was going to be another dog book that makes me cry (it didn’t).

I’m the kind of person who likes to throw an animal book in every year or so to book check my levels of emotion😂. This one was a bit lackluster. It’s packed full of helpful doggo information though- particularly if you’re trying to train a new floof ball. But all in all, I just didn’t love it; there was no warm fuzzy feeling. It was just another book in existence. Oh well.
Profile Image for Zézinha Rosado.
414 reviews4 followers
February 21, 2013
ESte livro pode considerar-se mais um "documentário" do que um livro, pois descreve de fio a pavio todas as aventuras e desventuras da perda de um cão, companheiro de muitos anos, e a aquisição de uma nova cachorra.
É um livro bonito, com conselhos úteis que eu, dona de 4 cães, achei muito interessantes.
Não é que seja uma obra que nos deixe de "boca aberta", mas o livro é ternurento... muitas vezes dei por mim a sorrir ao ler as tropelias que a cadela Scout fazia, pois já tenho passado por situações semelhantes com os muitos cães que tenho tido ao longo da minha vida.
É um livro recomendado para quem gosta de cães e quer aprender mais um pouco sobre eles.
458 reviews3 followers
February 10, 2013
How could I possibly give Scout less than 4 stars...look at him!!! It would have been 5 but no one is more perfect tham my Sam and Giggio! This was a good book on a year well spent raising a pup!! Scout wasn's as humourous as John Grogan's Marley but a close second!! Scout is one lucky guy to have such great doggie parents and a book to boot....this is a fun read for anyone who loves and/or owns dogs...all the trials and tribulations...all the heartache and worry...all the joy and unconditional love...all the highs and lows...all the memories and the fact that we will never forget them once they are gone! Scout now the whole world loves you!!
182 reviews
May 12, 2020
2.5 stars
The summary of the book called it "instructive and marvelously entertaining" and I'm not sure I would call it either. While raising Scout in the first year, they reached out to several puppy trainers to help deal with some of Scout's challenging behaviors. The author reiterates some of their learning, and you may pick up a tidbit or two, but there isn't enough instruction to use to train your dog. When I read "entertaining" I expected funny, amusing stories. Most of the stories and examples are simple, well known examples (dogs pulling on a leash, chewing shoes, chewing furniture) of what puppies are known to do and they were just related as something Scout did, not amusing or funny, just fact based.

It was published nearly 10 years ago, and perhaps at that time, how much pets have become anthropomorphize was just starting. The beginning of the book, they reference their trip to Petco and all the strollers, and other baby like items that exist. Again, the commentary on these items was more statements than funny stories. The first couple of chapters as she listed different foods, treats, etc, I wasn't sure the point - she was brand dropping throughout the book.

It was a short book that I listened to while working and throughout it I could've easily put it down. It left me thinking "meh."
Profile Image for Tracey.
987 reviews16 followers
March 24, 2023
This was a perfect book for this moment in my life. The book opens with a chapter about Abramson's dog Buddy, who has died, and she's questioning whether or not she will get another dog, which she obviously does. This is a familiar path for me, having just lost Zoe in July and having a small 8 week old puppy come into my life to create complete chaos in February. This was funny, relatable, well-researched (training methods, for example), and just plain heartfelt. It's clear Abramson really loves dogs, specifically Buddy and Scout, and her stories are full of time spent making sure Scout had the best possible first year of her life. Given the last puppy I personally had was also named Scout made this all the more relatable. Well that and all the chewing. And, it gave me hope. As Gym grows like a weed and is able to reach more and more with her razor-sharp teeth, I was happy to hear there is a light at the end of the puppy tunnel.
May 26, 2017
I'm a great big sucker for a warm and tender animal story. This is no exception. The story of a lovely blonde golden retriever dog from meeting with the breeders and over one year old. What a cute little spirit of a dog. I laughed and laughed, and wanted to hug and pet him so much I could hardly stand it. His name is Scout and a precious dog he is. Not to say he was perfect, cause he wasn't. They had to work with him in training a lot, but he worked through some good trials that helped to make him a wonderful animal. WONDERFUL!!! Awesome owners too that put Scout in a very prominent place in their home. It really is good. Recommend.
428 reviews
September 7, 2018
It was such a quick read... and who doesnt like a puppy book... especially when it is honest. She talks about all the trials and tribulations of that first year.. and any dog owner knows it but we do it anyway. I like how she was brutally honest about loving her first dog and wondering is she will ever bond to the new dog. Each dog is so special and different and our hearts have enough love in them for them all. And I love that she didn't know how to train her..... no one method is correct for any of us. But she admitted they took what they liked or made sense from everyone.
Profile Image for Jill Diamond.
331 reviews
December 7, 2018
The problem with many dog memoirs is that they like include a research paper mixed into the story. I’m not reading the book to learn facts, I’m reading it for your dog’s story. At least in this case the author is a reporter so providing extra researched info is what she does. I tried to be less judgy of her because of that. Also on the plus side is that I didn’t hate any of the people in the story. And Scout and her friends are dogs, so of course I liked them.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,809 reviews
March 31, 2021
This is an interesting memoir of the challenges involved in the first year of a new puppies life. You definitely feel the discouragements and triumphs along the way. A new dog owner will find it fun to follow the narrative as Scout goes back and forth from country life to city life and must adjust to both.The author definitely attempts to be fair in her comments about different foods and training methods, almost too much so.
181 reviews
September 19, 2017
I listened to this while exercising. It was light and cute. I could relate to the chewing and pulling. The author certainly had more resources than the average person. The story was also about her grieving for her previous dog and how it takes time for the new dog fill the void in their own unique way.
442 reviews1 follower
January 10, 2021
Scout's story.

As a dog lover myself, I really enjoyed this book. I could relate to many of Scout's escapades and trials as the owner of prior dogs myself. In my case they were great dogs! The book was well written and fun to read. Would highly recommend it to anyone who loves dogs.
Profile Image for Stephen.
595 reviews8 followers
June 4, 2021
Why would you not want to read a book that features a puppy on its cover? I did. I was disappointed. I felt that Abramson wrote in a way that made it seem like she was the first person ever to raise a Golden Retriever from puppyhood. I read other books like this, The Big House for example. Sorry Jill, I am on my third: Duffy, Boomer, and Hester, the Molester. They are wonderful dogs.
Profile Image for Missy Miedema.
72 reviews3 followers
October 26, 2018
Probably only entertaining for current or former dog owners. This book caused me to reflect on my own dogs, my relationship with my dogs, and our family's training methods (and consistency). Overall, this was an enjoyable, and, at times, educational book.
5 reviews
November 14, 2019
The book was very heartwarming and does include tips on how to handle dogs. However, the story does not have a climax or a peak of the story so I find the book a bit draggy at times. However, it's a rather heartwarming book.
201 reviews1 follower
August 16, 2020
There’s a ton of obnoxious name dropping in this book, and ‘look how important I am!” dripping off the pages, a few bits of helpful or interesting information, and definitely (the reason I read the book) the sense that I am not alone in the tumultuous land of raising a puppy.
March 25, 2022
"Aprendi muito com o Buddy; entre outras coisas ensinou-me que, mesmo em situações enervantes, os cães têm uma maneira única se nos conduzir para direções interessantes e inesperadas" (Jill Abramson, 2011)
Profile Image for Jeannie.
124 reviews3 followers
January 20, 2023
This was a nice read. The chapters are just long enough that it’s convenient to sit and read one at a time. I enjoyed this tale and look forward to getting my own puppy sometime this year and encountering many of the same events as the author did in Scout’s first year.
Profile Image for SeeAmandaRead.
62 reviews1 follower
May 10, 2017
4.5 Stars. I listened to this book while driving. It was exactly what I expected from a book called the puppy diaries: cute, insightful, and touching.
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