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Bad Dog: A Love Story

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,215 ratings  ·  166 reviews
(A true story.)
Meet Hola. She’s a nightmare, but it’s not her fault if she tackles strangers and chews on furniture, or if she runs after buses and fried chicken containers and drug dealers. No one ever told her not to. Worse yet, she scares her family. Hola may be the most beautiful Bernese mountain dog in the world, but she’s never been trained. At least no
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  1,215 ratings  ·  166 reviews

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Darcia Helle
Rather than a true animal tale, this book is more a story of Martin Kihn's battle with alcoholism, his life falling apart, then the process of putting it back together. In the midst of this, he and his wife buy Hola, a Bernese mountain dog. Kihn's inexperience as a dog owner, combined with the terminal state of his marriage, is a recipe for disaster for both Hola and Kiln.

While the focus leans more toward a personal memoir, Hola plays a large role in Kiln's recovery. The writing is humorous and
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book because it's about redemption, humility and getting a handle on one's place in the world. The framework of all this is the training of a lovable, possibly untrainable Bernese Mountain dog named Hola. Hola's training is the road back to life for her alcoholic, wife-separated owner, who, along the way, learns just as much about himself as he does about his dog as they make their way--and not always without missteps--toward triumph. A poignant, heartfelt memoir that offers as many ...more
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
Have you seen the TV shows about how training dogs helps prisoners gain a sense of self-worth, responsibility and joy? This book, Bad Dog by Martin Kihn shows how developing a routine of training and unconditional love
have helped him pull away from the abyss of alcoholism.
It is not so much a story about Hola, a Bernese Mountain dog as a man’s struggle with alcoholism,the destruction of a marriage and the difficult road back.

Dog training can become an obsession, in this case, a go
Evanston Public  Library
Those of you who know me probably know that I am the proud mother of a 70 pound Bernese Mountain Dog puppy named Nora. When Bad Dog (A Love Story) by Martin Kihn was handed to me by a coworker, I immediately thought I would be reading a delightful “tail” of feel-good fluffiness and Bernese bonding. I couldn’t wait to get my paws on this this book. Now, I have to admit that I haven’t read Marley and Me, nor have I read Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. In fact, I do not nor ...more
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfic-stories, dogs
I loved this tale of a man struggling with his alcohol addiction, ruined marriage, and ill-behaved dog.

His writing contains dark humor, and I was laughing constantly at his metaphors. And although sections DO seem disjointed, I thought it gave me a better insight into the world as seen through bleary drunk eyes (I still vaguely remember that!) rather than a sign that the author was still drinking when he wrote them.

No, this isn't JUST a dog tale, and that's really what I loved about
Carolyn Amundson
Oct 04, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is in chronological order and is superficially about getting and training a dog. At first, the author is bringing out the story of his alcoholism, marriage troubles, and the bad behaviors of his dog. I laughed at the idea at his conclusion that the breeder thought he was a sucker and stuck him with a dog with a bad temperament -- it seems so many New Yorkers live in fear of being taken in by someone. While it's clear that the author was completely unaware of his own emotions at that ti ...more
May 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: animal-rescue, dogs
Martin Kihn is a cat person -- and an alcoholic. When his wife, Gloria, convinces him to get a dog, they bring home Hola -- a Bernese mountain dog.

Hola runs amok for a great deal of the book ... which seems to match up with Kihn's life. As he enters recovery, and Gloria leaves him, Kihn decides it's time to work on Hola's training. His goal? To pass the Canine Good Citizen test.

The challenges of recovery mirror his experiences in the dog training world; both require self-
Nancy Brady
A memoir of a high-functioning alcoholic who loses just about everything he holds dear except one out-of-control Bernese Mountain dog named Hola. This is his story of reclaiming his life (and maybe even his wife) by becoming involved with competitive dog training.

Trying every method known, Marty works with the dog. In between, he goes to AA meetings and stays busy. At times, it seems as if he is trading one addiction (alcohol) for another (obsession with training Hola).

Melissa (ladybug)
Marty, a so called "High functioning alcoholic" (no such animal), and his dog Hola have problems. Marty's wife, after being attacked by Hola, leaves him. After this, Marty gets the idea that if Hola can pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) then his wife will come back to him. The book rambles, a lot, and reminds me of my Grandfather when he was drunk. I don't understand it, because Marty was suppose to have not been drinking at this time. This is why I just could not enjoy it. I also have a proble ...more
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Last night it arrived--I was soooo tired when I went to bed I thought- oh I'll just take a peek and then sleep (we just moved- you know that moving exhaustion)...and then I started reading-
Oh my god- soooooooo good!!
Just so funny and detailed and I feel such a kinship with the writer as a narrator. This book is for anyone familiar with the challenge of living with an insanely unruly dog and the struggle of addiction. Kihn is hilarious and poignant all at once...a dream to read-like i
Feb 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Marty is funny, sophisticated, but at times raw and very real, too. This story of a man, drinking, a dog and marriage - and his recovery from all three - is at times funny and sad, heart-wrenching and joyful. You'll love Hola, too.
A little tale of redemption, not your usual doggy fare. Though I do love the little peeks inside Hola's head. Who knows?
Martin is just that perfect blend of snarky and self-deprecating, with wonderful little cultural and metaphorical descriptions that make
Apr 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I don't think this book should be advertised as a dog story. That's marginal at best. This book is about a man who's a lousy husband and a lousy dog owner, but a very good alcoholic. The first third of the book talks about his shortcomings and details his alcoholism. Who cares? I picked up the book because I wanted to read a dog story, not about an alcoholic that thinks he can get his wife back if only he can train his neglected dog. Poor dog, poor excuse for a book.
What a waste of time.
Apr 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a charming book about addiction and dog training and the parallels, which, before I read this I had never thought about. The author went to my high school and I was lucky to have met him through my brother. It's an ode to dog lovers with some laugh-out-loud moments and I will be giving it as gifts to all my dog owner friends and relatives.
Mar 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir-bio, pets
So little about the dog...
Apr 22, 2011 rated it liked it
i picked up this book purely for the cover. but it was a pretty good (true) story as well. i love dog books and this one made me want to get one just so that i could train it.
Loved the dog. Appreciated the insight into dog behavior and training. Not a fan of the writing for the most part. There was quite a bit that made me laugh, mostly self-deprecating quips by the author about the situations his "bad dog" got them into.

My mother gave me this book and when I was about 1/3 of the way into it, I was sure that she hadn't read it because so much of it was about the author's alcoholism and at times it even seemed like he was under the influence when he was wr
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
My overall feeling after finishing this book? Meh. This book is ostensibly about Mr. Kihn finding, if not redemption, at least some type of balance, via his relationship with his dog. In actuality, it is a book about Kihn and his battle with alcoholism. Hola (the dog) is just another player along with Kihn's wife, coworkers, and fellow AA members. Kihn exhibits characteristics I find so irritating in alcoholics--he tries way too hard and everything is about him. As a book about a man's struggle ...more
Rose Daugherty-rudd
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a recently converted "dog person," this book definitely resonated with me. In it he describes a connection that I can relate with in several ways, and the author's history with an alcohol problem made it even more interesting because it was as much about his own redemption and journey as it was about his dog. The only downfall was that he at times got too focused on dog training rules than the kind of dog ownership I identify with, but he poured himself into training so that was to be expecte ...more
This is actually the story of a man struggling with alcoholism and his "problem" dog. As is often the case with books like these (ones where a dog is labeled as bad), the author got a dog entirely inappropriate for his personality and lifestyle. I admire his commitment to Hola though and finding a way to make it work. Dogs aren't disposable and more people should live up to that responsibility.

This book reminds me a lot of Walking with Peety by Eric O'Grey in that both author's worked through s
Hope Irvin Marston
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I am a dog lover and former owner of about six breeds. Our boxers were our favorites until we bought our Bernese mountain dog. She was a special member of our family for eleven years and that's why I couldn't wait to read this book. It's the story of an intelligent, but misunderstood, canine. It's well written except for the number of times the "f" word was used. That reduced my otherwise top rating to a three.
K Kelley
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
loved it - combo of AA and dog story - can't lose! Funny, wise in parts, the author wrote his struggles with alcoholic drinking and his behavioral dog with truth and rawness.
Best quote (pg 157): You can't think your way into right living. You have to live your way into right thinking.
Cheryl Bentley
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Easy to read, funny, touching memoir of one man getting his life and his dog straightened out.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you have tried to train a dog this will give you courage. True story.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Non-fiction account NYC alcoholic trains his Bernese dog
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a book I enjoyed reading. A good story, with a good ending that I hope continued for everyone in the story.
Aug 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Bad Dog (A Love Story) by Martin Kihn, 2011, Pantheon Books, $23.95, 213 pp

Incredibly adorable cover! Catchy title! Excellent Writing!

Unusual premise: Bernese Mountain Dog puppy (Hola) in New York City grows into a huge, uncontrollable dog living with a talented writer (also a practicing alcoholic) and his wife who leaves him due to her fear of the dog. Can the author train Hola well enough to impress his estranged wife to move back in, if Hola succeeds in passing the Canine Good Ci
Julie Davis
Apr 21, 2011 rated it liked it

Lorena leaves me with a handout titled "The Rules of Passive Dominance," which begins: "Ignoring attention-seeking behaviors is the highest form of dominance."

The highest form?

Attention seeking: Grabbing shoes and making you chase her. Soft sweet cries and I say, "What's wrong, Hola, you hungry doll?" Poke and pet, roll over and rub reflexively, even yelling "Drop!" when she's got our neighbor's kid's sandal in her mouth, shaking it like a squirrel that's dead enough already.
Tracy Morton
At first I thought the story was going to be irritating. Some of the author's phrasing is weird and he was giving the dog a voice but as I read on I rather enjoyed it. It almost makes me think that there's hope for my dogs.
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Another audio book I listened to while traveling to/from work and at work after hours. I love all dog books and this was no exception. The transformation the dog helped its owner make really made me like this book. Dogs do that to us, don't they? The only thing that I did not like was the minute details given about AKC training. It was a little overdone for my liking. At times I was confused as to how the storyline got where it was at. It felt as if I missed some pages but that is impossible sin ...more
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Martin is a man ruled by his obsessions. He’s obsessed with work. When he’s not working, he’s obsessed with drinking. Consequently, his wife, Gloria, is lonely. She thinks she will be less lonely if they get a dog. They get a purebred Burnese Mountain puppy, a breed which is the largest in the world. They live in an apartment in New York City. Neither one has ever had a dog before. Anybody see the train wreck coming?

Hola is a beautiful, loving dog, but instead of bonding with Gloria,
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Around the Year i...: Bad Dog: A Love Story, by Martin Kihn 1 12 Jan 23, 2017 07:48AM  

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Martin Kihn is a writer, digital marketer, dog lover, balletomane and spiritual athlete. He was born in Zambia, grew up in suburban Michigan, has a BA in Theater Studies from Yale and an MBA from Columbia Business School. His articles have appeared in New York, the New York Times, GQ, Us, Details, Cosmopolitan and Forbes, among many others, and he was on the staff of Spy, Forbes, New York and Vibe ...more
“Every year thousands of dogs are abandoned to shelters because of behavior problems. And these are things that can be corrected with just basic training. Dogs are being killed because of lack of training, and that's what the Canine Good Citizen program is all about. (Mary Burch, AKC)” 3 likes
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