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A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  4,770 ratings  ·  307 reviews
Sometimes, change comes on four legs.

In his popular and widely praised Running to the Mountain, Jon Katz wrote of the strength and support he found in the massive forms of his two yellow Labrador retrievers, Julius and Stanley. When the Labs were six and seven, a breeder who’d read his book contacted Katz to say she had a dog that was meant for him—a two-year-old border co
Paperback, 212 pages
Published May 6th 2003 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2002)
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Community Reviews

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4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,770 ratings  ·  307 reviews

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Jul 10, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody at all
Shelves: gaveupon

I feel cheated. Ripped off.

At the beginning of the book, Katz has two Labradors he loves. He writes rapturously of their perfect, content life together.

Then a breeder friend starts nagging him to adopt a troubled, difficult border collie.

I go through this every time I see a homeless animal. I want to adopt the rabbit on Craig's list, whose owners have realized they're not good caretakers. I want to take home the dog I saw at adoption day at the local pet store. But I don't, because
Jan 31, 2011 rated it did not like it
Enough with the bred dogs. Learn your lesson already and get a dog from a pound. Then you won't have to put them to sleep when they're much younger than most dogs because of diseases caused by overbreeding or put them to sleep because you can't control their behavioral issues. Shame on you, Jon Katz. Use your money and fame for some good.
Kara Dennison
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this book after seeing the film of the same name starring Jeff Bridges. There is a great deal left out, understandably, but both were enjoyable. As a former border collie owner myself, I enjoyed the stories of Devon and Homer attempting to herd things, as well as pulling seemingly impossible stunts while their owner was away.

I'm not sure this is a book for people not completely enamored of dogs -- in particular, for border collie owners who understand and embrace their quirks. In that res
Carol  MacInnis
Jun 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Jon Katz tells a wonderful story in "A Dog Year" about living with his dogs and acquiring a border collie named "Devon" who is slightly out of control. Every dog is different as are humans, but in this novel, getting to know Devon was an experience all in itself. It had me laughing, it had me crying, it had me right from page one! In times like today when life can have so many ups and downs, there is nothing like the companionship of a dog whose gives you love unconditionally. A wonderful story ...more
May 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love Jon Katz! This book was sooooooo good! I laughed out loud, cried aloud (even sobbed). I felt like I was right there with him through his trials and tribualations with his beloved boys ( the labs and border collies).
This book is incredible for dog lovers! and apparently it is going to be made into a movie according to the cover. Believe me, i will be first in line to watch it!!!!!
I have read "the Dogs of Bedlam Farm" and am now about to start 'A Good Dog". I have no doubt i will
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-other
An excellent little book about a year in the life of an author and his four dogs (two of which are rescues). Poignant (at times) and funny (at other times), the author really captures the love he has for these animals and the love they have for him. This book strengthened my own love for dogs. I look forward to reading other nonfiction "dog' books by Mr. Katz.
Charlotte Betts
Feb 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
I thought I would love this book. I didn't. I thought I would identify with the author having had a puppy myself and knowing the trials and tribulations of having a puppy can be. I didn't.
I thought his choices were reckless and his two original dogs suffered because of it
I did sob in places but had no love for this book.
Dec 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Anyone who was a fan of Marley and Me should try one of Jon Katz's books. Katz has a series of books sharing his dog stories is hilarious, beautiful, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking ways.

The first of Katz's books that I read was A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me. Katz has two old yellow labs that have grown accustomed to a lazy way of life. A life that Katz himself has grown comfortable with. One day, however, a friend calls Katz and tells him that she found a dog that he should
Jan 14, 2011 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book and think the author has a nice, friendly writing style, but it's hard for me to get past the fact that he keeps buying bred dogs. Despite seeing his dogs lead short lives because they are bred and suffer from hereditary problems associated with overbreeding, he keeps buying bred dogs. Come on, Katz. Hit up a shelter. They'll live a lot longer, you'll be saving a life, and you'll be setting a great precedent for all your readers to follow. You're exactly the kind of person wi ...more
Sean Halpin
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
On average this book was good but not spectacular. An a easy read, I found myself sometimes enthralled in the story and other times checking how many more pages were in the chapter in hopes that the story would move on faster. Despite the enthralling parts I could never quite get past the authors impulsive decision to take on more dogs at the urging of a manipulative breeder several states away. He was so cavalier about inviting his new dog with him on a cross country trip to Minnesota while he ...more
Lidiya P
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Devon' - I really enjoyed reading it, I could picture every scene in detail. It had upside down emotions, but I liked how it ended in a happy way.
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I love dog stories, and this one made me laugh and cry. However, I didn't care much for the writer. Nothing I can really pin down, just could not feel anything for him, one way or the other.
Jan 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: doglovers
Recommended to Jennifer by: Elisabeth
Shelves: read-2010
A small slip of a book that explores a year in the life of writer, Jon Katz--a year that involves four dogs. As the year begins, Katz is living a peaceful existance in New Jersey with his two white labs, Julius and Stanley (apparently their earlier adventures are chronicled in another book). Even for labs, these two dogs are super mellow and easy-going and they and their needs fit seamlessly into Jon's writing life. After a morning walk, they sleep by his feet as he types on the computer, etc.

Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Nate Thomas
A Dog Year

The book is called a dog year and its about the author named Jon Katz he is an author and he sometimes writes all day and then he adopts this dog named Devon. Devon is a border collie and he gets into trouble, and he is afraid of people leaving him. Jon lives in New York and Devon likes to have exercise and he can’t because he doesn’t have the space and so he tries to run away every chance he gets. When he runs away he tries to herd the car because he’s a sheep d
Beth Oppenlander
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
You know Katz is a gifted writer when he shows you the strengths and shortcomings of 4 very different dogs. He gives of them a distinct voice in the stories he chooses to tell about his beloved companions. I found myself wondering multiple times how many hours had he pondered which special story he wanted to tell to endear you to his beloved companions. I am grateful for his selections. In the end, I felt his joy and his heartbreaks along the way - a journey I am glad I didn't have to endure for ...more
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
The narrator annoyed me, the dog training techniques as well as how he goes about acquiring his dogs irked me. It's not that I'm against only investing in purebreds - I think there's good reasons for both mutts/shelter dogs and breeders. But this man made a number of mistakes and didn't really apologize for them. As a writer, his characterizations of the people involved in his life were one-dimensional and frustrating. And knowing the truth about what happened to the dog doesn't help his case.
Apr 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Yes, I cried when his old dog died. Very sweet story of this guy and his dogs. The author has two sweet, obedient, bonded Labs that he adores and who adore him. He then takes on another dog, who is of a very different temperament. I like how Katz is honest about some of the mistakes he made with the new dog, and how he felt about him. It's not all sweet feelings here. Enjoyable book for folks who like animals.
Marni Schribman
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love Jon Katz and I love his books...this one is no exception. He does an incredible job describing how enmeshed our dogs are in our daily lives. He has funny/sad/quirky stories that explain how dogs help us get through life's challenges while we're helping them make sense of our world. Jon Katz does an amazing job depicting how canines are not just involved in, but are integral to, our existence on this planet.
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book for my husband after our beloved cairn terrier passed away at 13 years of age and it brought tears and healing to him. I read it after him and was also deeply affected by its kindhearted and very real struggle with grief and a new, difficult dog. After reading this, we went to the SPCA and got another dog - this completed the cycle on so many levels.
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
I loved all of Jon Katz's books. He had a really great style of writing, and made his life sound like the greatest life in the world. He's a great storyteller. His books are sad, funny, exciting... they have everything. Perfect book for animal lovers about the life of a bunch of dogs and their owners on a farm.
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
We have three dogs. Two of which are boarder collies. One of which was adopted later at the age of two. This book really hit home on all aspects. Boarder Collies are extremely challening but very loving and affectionate.
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Breaks my heart every time. The first time I read this book, I had to hide in a stall in the Denver airport for the last 30 pages or so because I was crying so hard. Beautiful and true and not maudlin like many books addressing the same themes.
Char Ipacs
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
We can learn so much from our furry friends family
Love, trust , compassion
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you love dogs, you will enjoy this lovely little book. Adopting a dog is a responsibility that should never be taken lightly.
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Really touching story. Any animal lover would enjoy this book. Jon Katz does a great job of revealing his faults, curiosities and his joys where his dogs are concerned.
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
A Dog Year, written and directed by George LaVoo, based on the book by Jon Katz
Eight out of 10

Surprisingly for a film with Jeff Bridges, A Dog Year has attracted very little attention, as is obvious if you look it up on IMDB, where only four critics have bothered to note on it so far.

Granted, this is not The Big Lebowski, Crazy Heart, True Grit, The Muse, The Fisher King, The Last Picture Show or any other of the landmarks in which Jeff Bridges has given memorable performances.
A Dog Year is a mo
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dog, dog-read
First my criticisms. Sorry, John.
I’m not sure I could ever ship a dog anywhere in the cargo hold of an airplane. Imagine the confusion, the temperature changes, the noise. No animal should ever go through that.
My Jesse came from Puerto Rico as a rescue. Better that than Dead Dog Beach. The rescue team thought he would never be adopted because, when crated, he would spin frantically round and round barking constantly. It’s just now that I realize this is “plane trauma”. When we found him at Pitts
Robin Reynolds / October Woman
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've never had a Border Collie, but I've heard stories and heard that they are very energetic and high maintenance. I really enjoyed this book for the most part.

But. I love dogs. I am a dog lover. I want all the dogs. I would love to foster dogs, but my resident dog lived in a backyard for six years and was completely unsocialized when I adopted him, and since I do have to work outside the home full time, I don't feel I'm in a position to be a good foster home. While the author loves his dogs,
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
He includes a warning note at the end--don't go out and adopt a Border Collie after reading this book. As if the book itself wasn't one long warning about adopting Border Collies. Especially deeply disturbed ones. As he remarks early on,

It had taken a couple of years for Devon to become a nervous wreck; how long would it take to reclaim him? Was it even really possible?

We'll see. I used to want one myself but I never had the space for it to run; now, I don't have the energy. My little Alisha mi
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a really good book for the dog lover. We have all been there when we have dogs and then get a new one, the eventual passing of the old ones, the challenges of training, etc. This is an excellent book for anyone thinking about getting a Border Collie. These highly intelligent and energetic dogs take a special owner and really need people to think carefully about having one. They can get neurotic and aggressive if they are not given what they need. Give them what they need and you will hav ...more
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A Dog Year 1 3 Oct 27, 2017 08:17AM  
Interested in knowing... 4 30 Dec 21, 2011 10:09AM  
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Jon Katz is an author, photographer, and children's book writer. He lives on Bedlam Farm with his wife, the artist Maria Wulf, his four dogs, Rose, Izzy, Lenore and Frieda, two donkeys, Lulu and Fanny, and two barn cats. His next book, "Rose In A Storm" will be published by Random House on October 5.
He is working on a collection of short stories and a book on animal grieving.
“The relationship between a dog and a human is always complicated. The two know each other in a way nobody else quite understands, a connection shrouded in personal history, temperament, experience, instinct, and love.” 10 likes
“Whenever I hear people clucking about the decline of civilization, what's wrong with young people, how vulgar popular culture is, how confusing and frightening they find the internet, alarms go off. I know I'm around somebody whose hinges are rusting. Death will be bad enough, but for me, this early harbinger is more fearsome, because a part of one's spirit and openness and ability to learn and grow disappears.” 1 likes
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