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What the Dog Did: Tales from a Formerly Reluctant Dog Owner

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  944 ratings  ·  110 reviews
"The best dog books are as much about people as they are about dogs, and What the Dog Did is one of the best."—Jon Katz, author of The Dogs of Bedlam Farm

Dave Barry meets The Secret Lives of Dogs in Emily Yoffe's funny and insightful look at all things canine. Filled with adventures of heroic dogs, lovable and lazy dogs, malodorous dogs, phlegmatic and incontinent dogs, W
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Bloomsbury USA (first published June 1st 2005)
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The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth SteinA Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce CameronMarley and Me by John GroganWhere the Red Fern Grows by Wilson RawlsThe Call of the Wild by Jack London
Great "Dog" Books
1,096 books — 1,895 voters
A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce CameronThe Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth SteinMarley and Me by John GroganThe Call of the Wild by Jack LondonWhere the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Dog Lovers
591 books — 640 voters

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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  944 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Feb 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: NO ONE
If I could rate this zero stars I would! This book made me extremely angry. This woman obviously doesn't understand dogs, their body language, or even how to treat them. Who thinks it's funny when a dog with separation anxiety jumps off the 2nd story of their home and breaks their leg?

Plus, when she told how she ran up to her neighbor's dog and it growled/snapped at her and she said it should be put down was the most stupid thing I've ever read. I don't know any dog that likes to be spooked by
Apr 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
I actually ended up throwing this book away before I got to the end. If I could give it less than one star I would...
Jun 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Yoffe, unsurprisingly, writes with warmth, candor and wit, but I did not find this 'laugh out loud' funny as so many reviews and readers proclaimed. Perhaps because, as much as I've longed and yearned and plotted, I have not yet joined the league of dog ownership.

Yoffe's humor favors sweet, apt descriptions (like calling umbrella-holding dog walkers in the rain "demented courtiers") and/or ba-dum-bump one-liners that often feel a bit forced and cheesy.

Despite its heart, the book is often rambli
Teena in Toronto
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'd never heard of Yoffe nor had I read any of her columns. But I love reading stories about animals.

I took a dislike to the author right away ... I found her to be cold. I liked her sarcasm for the most part but in some cases I found it to be in poor taste.

Despite that, I enjoyed the book. There were lots of stories about pets that the owner had had along with people she knew. And I did applaud her involvement in BREW (Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare).

I must say, though, that I questioned
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Dog lovers
Shelves: kindle
Maybe it's only because I own two rescue beagles, but this book made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt. Writing funny is not easy, but Emily Yoffe is a master at it. She intersperses her personal beagle experiences with other peoples' animal stories, as well as some background on the canine species, behaviorists, and other doggie details. Yoffe is a cat person too, so there's a little something for everyone here. It's a short read, so enjoy every word - the end of the book comes far too soon!
Oct 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: to-trash
I have been reading this and I just can't do anymore. I am so disgusted with the author that I just... gah. I cannot relate to her at all, as she talks about loving cats but proves to have no compassion for the dogs she refers to in positive ways. It doesn't make sense, and it is disappointing for me. I'm not used to dog books from "formerly reluctant" owners ending up still... reluctant. It just doesn't make sense.

Overall I'm just... frustrated with it.
Jan 05, 2008 rated it did not like it
It was OK, being a true animal lover I disliked the wwoman a bit.
Virginia Mackmin
I like stories about dogs but this was a book about a lot of different dogs. you really must love dogs to read this book. I like reading about only one or two dog at a time.
Lora Covrett
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some of the reviews are a bit harsh. This book has some interesting facts and embedded humor that make it a fun read. Humor is subjective and some of it is not great in this book but some is funny. The author loves her dog. This is not a manual for dog training or dog owners but a humorous tale from a reluctant dog owner - it lives up to that description.
Linda Tuplin
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
This one covered a whole range of emotions, from sadness for the way some dogs have been treated, to delight in antics I can relate to, and joy in the journey of learning to know and love your own special dog. An easy, quick read.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
My new doggie, a beagle named Lulu, is lucky I read this book AFTER adopting her!
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very funny book - if you've ever owned a dog you'll enjoy this book
Landon S Gaisford
Fun Read

Seriously haven't laughed this hard in a long time. There are some very relatable stories in this book, and the way Emily tells them make them hilarious.
Shazza Maddog
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Emily (the author) is convinced by her family to adopt a Beagle named Sasha from a local rescue group - a dog she didn't particularly want, not being partial to dogs and more fond of cats. What follows is her indoctrination of Beagles, the rescue group, dog training, and ultimately, her own transformation into a dog-lover.

A fun book written with a somewhat dark sense of humor about how a dog can completely upend your life - and what you can do to make sure you (might) keep the upper hand in the
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I picked this book up at my local library's annual book sale a few years ago, along with several other dog-focused books, because, hey, it was relatively cheap and anything about dogs is basically worth reading at least once by my standards, but I just finally got around to marking it off my "to read" list. Having skimmed reviews before picking the book off my shelf a few days ago, I was a little afraid that what I bought as an inexpensive feel-good dog book would end up leaving me depressed and ...more
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Elizabeth, Nicole, Sunshine
A non-fiction book by a Slate writer. She was a cat person who got a dog under extreme pressure from her husband and young daughter. And she got a beagle...We beagle lovers know that beagles are hard headed, hard to train, and will eat anything no matter how many trips to vet it causes.

She wrote about her problems training the beagle and then invited readers to share their stories. Then she decided to foster dogs--more stories. The book resulted from her and their stories.

"As with small children
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
I got 85% through. I was already losing interest when I got to a chapter about the origins of dogs, but it's written through the lens of the author reading another book. Um, what?

I thought this was going to be funny dog stories. There were a couple things that had me cracking up but as a dog person myself, I also found myself going WTAF? If your dog eats a cake off the counter one time, should you not learn from that and not leave him unsupervised with cake again? There's a story about one dog
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: dog lovers
Very funny dog-centric biography about a woman who's not sure she wants a dog. Yoffe's sense of humor permeates the story of her journey to dog ownership and beyond.
After the hard lobbying from her daughter, Yoffe consents to research breeds, and realizes that "the dirty secret of dog lovers is that they enjoy the fact that every breed is impossible."
As Yoffe and her daughter start visiting shelters, they meet their first beagle, and it's all over. The research involved in choosing a rescued be
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
"Formerly reluctant" dog owner turned "doggist" Emily Yoffe writes about her life with her rescue beagle and subsequent foster beagles. Like any good dog book these days, this one includes stories of other dogs (especially very rascal-ly dogs) and their people and also touches on some of the important and interesting research on domestic dogs by Raymond Coppinger, James Serpell, and Karen Overall. At first, I didn't think I liked this book much--among the things that irked me was a fairly dismis ...more
May 31, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Anyone living an urban life with a dog will be amused by author Emily Yoffe’s transformation from a “cat person” to a beagle owner. Emily told stories about her own dog Sasha and others that make my two dogs’ puppyhood look angelic.

If anything the stories just reiterate what I just told some friends looking to adopt a dog. Think about your own lifestyle and personality and adopt a breed or mixed breed whose personality fits your family. Don’t just pick the cutest dog at the pound. While a dog’s
Ruby Hollyberry
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, bio-memoir
I have bought multiple copies of this book to give people I know and still keep having to replace my own because I keep lending it out! I'm in rescue in my own little way (mostly transport and fostering cats, plus pit bull advocacy) and I have to say that people who aren't in rescue have no idea how many animal nuts are among them and how many animals said nuts have in their houses at one time. I love a book that makes me laugh and this is one of the few that I can't read without shrieking. Ther ...more
Jun 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved this book. To the detriment of everything else in my life, I could not put this book down. I frequently read Emily Yoffe's "Human Guinea Pig" column on and always found her to be quite funny. When I learned she'd written a book about her dog I couldn't wait to read it and, indeed, I found What the Dog Did to be as witty and engaging as her columns. I laughed out loud often while reading it. Anyone who has read and loved Marley and Me should read this book. In fact, I think this ...more
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Sometime books suffer when you revisit them: the funny/clever/poignant writing that you remember loving so much when you first encounter it just doesn't hold up to the memory in your head.

Lucky for me, that wasn't the case with What the Dog Did. I remember reading the book years ago, wondering why Yoffe's book - often touching, almost always amusing - never received even a fraction of dog-book love that Marley and Me did. I came across it at my library and decided to revisit this story of someon
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I was laughing outloud reading this book. My husband actually asked me what was wrong with me when he kept hearing me crack up in a quiet room.

This book is definitely one I would recommend to those who own and love dogs and accept the acts of naughtiness that come with the same.

This book differs from Marley. That book had as much to do with the story of Mr. Grogan's relationship with his wife and establishment of his family. This book is almost pure dog anecdotes.

I am also now definitely convin
Wendy Brafman
Dec 09, 2009 rated it liked it
This book confirmed some facts I had discovered about my own beagle - difficult to train/housebreak and given to mischief, yet the best dog I've had. I enjoyed reading about the author's fostering experiences; I had my own very difficult foster who snarled at and bit Chris, humped and snarled at my beagle and growled at little kids, yet was utterly loyal to me and eventually found her forever home.
Overall, the book reminded me I'm not alone in my (obsessesive?) desire to help dogs, and in my lo
Sep 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Ever since a grammar school teacher read aloud Where the Red Fern Grows, with its gruesome and unbearable ending, I have mostly avoided dog memoirs. This despite (or because of?) my house full of hounds. But Emily Yoffe is Slate's Dear Prudence, and I've read enough of her columns to know she would write a funny and sarcastic memoir. It has sad parts, but you can't write a book about rescue dogs without confronting the fact that these dogs were thrown away in the first place. I didn't cry, but I ...more
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dog-books
The biggest lesson learned from reading this is if you're thinking of getting a beagle, beware. That's not all Yoffe talks about, but it definitely is the cornerstone of all the stories she shares. And those stories cover all kinds of topics, from Yoffe's first pet, Brandy, to the unwavering love of Boston Terrier parents. Some of the tales told are humorous, others are heartbreaking. Every one is worth reading. And if you are thinking about taking a beagle into your home, you will get a devoted ...more
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I actually laughed out loud at some of the stories. I never had dogs until I had children and even then, I hesitated. But one of our boys wanted a dog so we got Muttski who turned out to be the funniest, happiest member of our family. When she passed, the same son who wanted a dog so much okayed the rescue of Sophie who was the ugliest dog I had ever seen. Even now, folks stop and point but we love her anyway. This book reminded me of the best and the worst of all the dogs I've met and never own ...more
H.S. Contino
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing

The book includes a variety of touching, funny, and sad stories about pets from a variety of different owners. The book literally made me "laugh out loud" on numerous occasions. As the owner of a 4 month old black lab puppy, I found it both comforting and reassuring to read about other pet owners that struggled to house break and train their pets.

I would definitely recommend this book to others-- especially to pet owners!
Sarah Nice
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Yoffe has the excellent talent of bringing the souls mentioned on every page to life, from Sasha herself to Todd, their beloved trainer. Just as Yoffe was never a dog person before adding Sasha to the family, I'm fairly certain this book can transform anyone into a dog lover. Filled with humor and a few tearjerkers, I recommend this book to anyone in love with dogs or in need of a quick [adorable] read.
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“As Winston Churchill said, "Dogs look up to you, Cats look down on you." It's just that I discovered that being looked at from both of those perspectives is where I want to be.” 2 likes
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