Angela's Reviews > A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me

A Dog Year by Jon Katz
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's review
Jul 10, 2007

did not like it
bookshelves: gaveupon
Recommended for: nobody at all
Read in July, 2007


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 even though those animals deserve loving homes, I already have three cats, and they deserve their fair portion of my attention, and I don't have the resources for another animal right now.

Also, I believe adopting a pet is like getting married or having a child. It's in sickness and health, for richer or poorer.

Katz agrees to adopt Devon, the border collie, the first of a lot of decisions I have a hard time with.

His beloved labs get swept to the background as he fights for dominance with Devon. He makes half-hearted references to his wife's reluctance to be part of his dog life.

And then one of the labs gets sick. I've been in this position with our elderly cat, and we had him euthanized when he was too sick to enjoy life. Katz makes the decision right away, without studying treatment options. What really made me angry was that he didn't let the dog adjust to the realization that he was dying. As soon as the dog couldn't run and play *all day long*, he had him put to sleep. There were no signs the dog was in constant pain, and damn, he should have had a chance to retire a bit, adjust to life with less activity.

Soon after this, the breeder starts pestering Katz about a puppy. And Katz, though he has his doubts (and so does his wife) goes and gets the dog because Oprah Winfrey says he should. Really. He's on Oprah's show to promote another book, and during the commercial break, he mentions the puppy. Oprah says, as the cameras come back on, that he should "make himself happy" and get the dog. Fuck me. This is how he makes the decision? Lets someone with no knowledge of the situation tell him to get the dog to make *himself* happy? Ugh. I felt sick.

I did a little research on Katz before reading any more. Turns out that "A Dog Year" has a happy ending, but later Katz writes a book about his decision to put Devon to sleep because of behavioral problems.

I'm not in his shoes, I've never been in this situation with an animal. But I just don't trust his judgment. I mean, was it a good idea to encourage the dog to chase trucks, even from behind a fence? No, I can't read any more because I don't think I have anything to gain from this man's perspective. He talks about how much he loves the dogs, but it has no resonance with me. What I really want to do is find a rabbit or a guinea pig who needs something to chew on.

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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:34AM) (new)

Amy Wow. He doesn't even sound like a dog person. What is he doing writing a book about them? =/

message 2: by Eva (new) - added it

Eva Leger This review is awesome!! I hold out slim hope I'll like the book now, which is sad since I actually already have it, but the review is definitely awesome! I'm too much of a dog person to like something like this from the sounds of it.
I just yesterday found out one of my Labs has diabetes and he needs numerous insulin shots each day for the rest of his life. The vet told me I could "think" about putting him down. WTF??? Yeah, right. And my daughters not potty trained- maybe I should give her away while I'm at it.

message 3: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie I'm not a big fan of this author either. I read A Good Dog: The Story of Orson and it nearly broke my heart. I honestly can't stand the guy. I don't believe for a minute that he is the dog lover he claims to be, it seems more to me his dogs are a subject he uses to write another book and make more money. Shame on him!! Thank you for this review Angela! Now I won't waste my time or tears on this one.

message 4: by Eva (last edited Jan 09, 2009 12:03AM) (new) - added it

Eva Leger Yuck, I'm glad I didn't pay any money for it. I don't even think I want to crack it open now. You know, he makes it seem like it's a book to be read by dog lovers and that's probably how he makes most of his sales. :(
Jeannie- why are we both awake at 3 am? LOL And NOT reading our book? Haha! You know what I was just doing? Listing books that I've had laying around forever. I just went to the post office this week and spent an insane amount of money and since I shipped them all I guess I figured what they hell? May as well list all the others I have so I can be broke some more! LOL

message 5: by Eva (new) - added it

Eva Leger My sister just finished it and she told me more about the book and he sounds like a disgusting human being. He really shouldn't be writing about his love of animals. I know MANY animal lovers and they don't immediately put their animals to sleep at the first sign of trouble.
My God, I have a not even 7 year old Lab going BLIND and was told that's an option and it never crossed our minds. Not as long as he's living and loving life and isn't in pain. He's a piece of shit in my opinion....

message 6: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie yep I agree! why should I read something that is only gonna make me sad and hate the author at the same time?

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