Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me [NOOK Book]

Overview

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Jon Katz's Going Home.

“Change loves me, defines and stalks me like a laser-guided smart bomb. It comes at me in all forms, suddenly and with enormous impact, from making shifts in work to having and raising a kid to buying a cabin on a distant mountaintop. Sometimes, change comes on four legs.”

In his popular and widely ...
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Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me

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Overview

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Jon Katz's Going Home.

“Change loves me, defines and stalks me like a laser-guided smart bomb. It comes at me in all forms, suddenly and with enormous impact, from making shifts in work to having and raising a kid to buying a cabin on a distant mountaintop. 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 collie named Devon, well bred but high-strung and homeless. Katz already had a full canine complement, but instinct overruled reason, and soon thereafter he brought Devon home.

A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me is the story of how Devon and Jon—and Julius and Stanley—came to terms with each other. It shows how a man discovered a lot about himself through one dog (and then another) whose temperament seemed as different from his own as day is from night. It is a story of trust and understanding, of life and death, of continuity and change. It is by turns insightful, hilarious, and deeply moving.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
I can't think of a single dog lover who won't love Jon Katz's memoir of his year with two Labs and two border collies. For one thing, the cast of characters is so appealing. There are the easygoing Julius and the mischievous Stanley, two white Labs; Devon, a super-smart two-year-old border collie, high-strung, with low self-esteem; and Homer, a border collie puppy, as sweet and uncomplicated as Devon is not. It's a great crowd.

For another thing, Katz writes with great humor and warmth about living with dogs and the way they transform their owners. "Dogs live on a scale that I can comprehend; their lives are an outcome I can affect," he writes. "They make me happy, satisfy me deeply, anchor me in an elemental way. Sometimes it's hard for me to trust people, or to find people I can come to trust. I trust my dogs, though. They would do anything for me, and I for them. That's a powerful relationship, no matter what the species."

As the book begins, Katz reflects on his relationship with Julius and Stanley, "whose chosen work was to reflect on the state of the world, lick neighborhood kids, and accompany me through midlife." Together, they go on strolls, spend summers on Cape Cod, and enjoy long, happy weeks at Katz's mountain retreat. In fact, they achieve such a Zen state of human-dog harmony that it's surprising when Katz actually follows up on a suggestion from a breeder in Texas to adopt Devon, an emotionally battered border collie with many, many issues. But, writes Katz, "Change loves me, defines and stalks me like a laser-guided smart bomb. It comes at me in all forms. Sometimes, changes come on four legs. "

If Julius and Stanley reflected one part of Katz's nature, Devon certainly appealed to another, more troubled side. Devon was the canine equivalent of Jesse James. He chased buses, jumped fences, and could extricate ham from a sandwich, leaving the bread and cheese untouched. He could even open the refrigerator, pop open a plastic container, extract (and eat) a roast chicken, and hide the evidence. Ultimately, Katz and Devon come to terms in a confrontation of wills that is deeply moving.

The fourth dog in Katz's dog year is recommended by Devon's breeder. While Katz was considering the puppy, he appeared as a guest on Oprah to promote a book. During the commercial break, he confided his indecision to Winfrey, then called up his long-suffering wife, Paula, right after the show:

"Honey, great news," I said, "Oprah says we should get the puppy!"

"What?"

"Oprah! Oprah Winfrey just told me to take Homer if it will make me happy. And it will."

"Oh, God," was all she said.

Homer came to live with Jon Katz and his family, and he made everyone happy. (Ginger Curwen)
Publishers Weekly
The story line of Katz's latest book can be summed up very simply two dogs die and two new ones join the family but its charm comes from an intricate blend of witty anecdote and touching reflection. Katz (Geeks, Virtuous Reality) has shared his affection for years with two low-maintenance Labs, whose "chosen work was to reflect on the state of the world, lick neighborhood kids, and accompany [him] through midlife." So it is somewhat surprising that he next adopts a frenetic and demanding border collie he occasionally refers to as "Helldog." His life turned upside down; his writing schedule disrupted, he learns to center his life around a dog's needs rather than vice versa. After adopting the homeless Devon, Katz adopts his second border collie, Homer, because Oprah Winfrey urges him to. (He appears on her show for his book about his Labs, Running to the Mountain.) He's fallen in love with the breed's intelligence and curiosity. In fact, both breeds seem to touch something in his soul the Lab his centered, peaceful side; the border collie his troubled side. Over the course of the year, Katz reflects on the importance of devotion to and understanding of any animal taken into the home; ways to live peacefully with border collies; and even the problems of midlife crisis. "Once in a great while," he muses, "the right person is fortunate enough to get the right dog, to have time to take care of it, to connect with it in a profound way." (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The story line of Katz's latest book can be summed up very simply two dogs die and two new ones join the family but its charm comes from an intricate blend of witty anecdote and touching reflection. Katz (Geeks, Virtuous Reality) has shared his affection for years with two low-maintenance Labs, whose "chosen work was to reflect on the state of the world, lick neighborhood kids, and accompany [him] through midlife." So it is somewhat surprising that he next adopts a frenetic and demanding border collie he occasionally refers to as "Helldog." His life turned upside down; his writing schedule disrupted, he learns to center his life around a dog's needs rather than vice versa. After adopting the homeless Devon, Katz adopts his second border collie, Homer, because Oprah Winfrey urges him to. (He appears on her show for his book about his Labs, Running to the Mountain.) He's fallen in love with the breed's intelligence and curiosity. In fact, both breeds seem to touch something in his soul the Lab his centered, peaceful side; the border collie his troubled side. Over the course of the year, Katz reflects on the importance of devotion to and understanding of any animal taken into the home; ways to live peacefully with border collies; and even the problems of midlife crisis. "Once in a great while," he muses, "the right person is fortunate enough to get the right dog, to have time to take care of it, to connect with it in a profound way." (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
This paean to pooches everywhere is by an author who loves canines. Katz's year begins with the arrival at Newark Airport of a new dog, a two-year-old border collie of Australian lineage named Devon. After escaping from his travel cage and tearing around the terminal, Devon is captured and taken home to meet the author's other dogs, two beautiful and calm golden Labs named Julius and Stanley, who don't know quite what to make of the manic collie. The neighborhood is just as bewildered, because Katz's training of Devon is slow and agonizing. He breaks into expletives, screams at the dog, and even hits him. The neighbors are ready to call the SPCA. Eventually, however, Devon settles in. The noble Stanley sickens and is put down. (I cried, as would anyone who has ever lost a beloved pet.) The same fate awaits Julius later in the year. After appearing on Oprah Winfrey's show, Katz decides to take her advice and adopt another border collie, Homer, a sweet puppy beloved by everyone. Everyone, that is, except Devon. The Helldog gives the newcomer a tough time but after Katz takes them to a farm where they actually herd sheep, the two are easier together. Katz ends his book with this advice: "If you are pondering bringing a border collie, or for that matter, any other dog into your life, please consider it carefully and talk to breeders and other owners first." Katz followed his own advice, although things were more frantic than he expected. Still, it is obvious that love is a most important ingredient in any human/dog relationship and Katz loves his canines. So will the reader. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, RandomHouse, 209p.,
— Janet Julian
Library Journal
After mentoring a troubled teen, as recounted in Geeks, journalist Katz describes another kind of mentoring process: his adoption of Devon, a broken-spirited two-year-old border collie. A breeder who had read Katz's account about his two yellow Labs (Running to the Mountains) suggested that the author take the dog. From Devon's frenzied entrance into Katz's life, escaping from the confines of his crate into a busy airport, to his exultant, trusting leap into Katz's arms one year later, this memoir is warm and heartfelt. Although it lacks the searing intensity of Elizabeth Rose's For the Love of a Dog (LJ 7/01), there are the moving anecdotes about Devon's stunning intelligence: "When [Devon] found a loose slat, he wiggled his nose furiously, pushing the wood to one side. He squeezed through the narrow opening and then here's the scary part turned around and pushed the slat back into position." Katz's style and vocabulary are flowing and accessible, and sure to appeal to canine fans. For all public libraries. Cleo Pappas, Lisle Lib. Dist., IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Katz's smooth, flowing writing style and engaging manner of describing the personalities of his four dogs will captivate even reluctant readers. That he unobtrusively conveys lessons about dignity, discipline, and trust along the way is a bonus. In the opening pages, the family has two golden Labrador retrievers (Julius and Stanley) of tranquil and stately demeanor who have meshed perfectly into the rhythms of the author's daily writing routine and are beloved by neighbors in their suburban NJ locale. Then, he takes in Devon, a high-strung, two-year-old Border collie "with emotional issues." Surmounting the challenges presented by this beautiful and intelligent (but willful and anxious) animal, bonding with him and restoring equilibrium, fill many an entertaining chapter as the author cajoles Devon into accepting his new owner as the alpha male in the pack. Further adjustments are necessary as illness prematurely claims the lives of both Labs, and a Border collie puppy, Homer, is introduced into the household. In final chapters, wanting to satisfy the collies' native instincts as working dogs, Katz seeks out a training opportunity for them to experience herding sheep, and is rewarded by appreciation for their aptitude and high-energy intensity on the job. Throughout the story, adventures are touching, humorous, and winsome.-Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Journalist Katz, creator of suburban detective novels (Death Row, 1998, etc.) and introspective nonfiction (Running to the Mountain, 1999, etc.), goes completely and passionately to the dogs. At the start of his Year of the Dog, the most meaningful canines in his life were Stanley and Julius, two notably sweet Labrador retrievers. When they died-mourned mightily by their owner, their buddy, their pal-their places were taken by Devon and then Homer, a couple of young border collies, members of a particularly touchy breed. The intense training of Devon, at first almost feral, in the Jersey 'burbs quickly developed into a battle to determine who was to be the alpha male. Devon and Jon browbeat each other repeatedly, and for a while it was touch and go. But after many serious conversations and a few fierce confrontations, the dog conceded the test of wills to the writer. Still, Devon continued high maintenance, willful and stealthy, leaping into a raging river and regularly raiding the fridge just for the hell of it. Homer, by contrast, was notably laid back, but he actually proved capable of herding sheep, as border collies were meant to do. Sheepherding may not be an imperative in Montclair, New Jersey, but since Katz promised his collies the opportunity, he is conscientious in following through. He pays proper tribute to his wife and daughter, but this tale is practically all Katz and dogs. There is much canine psychology and anthropomorphism, of course, as "the boys" commune with their biographer through ear wiggles, barks, and limpid looks. In the interest of further male bonding, the author is even learning the rudiments of the shepherds' calling. It's enough to leave like-mindedreaders panting. A surfeit of tail-wagging, face-licking love. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781588361141
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/19/2002
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: File Size: 534KB
  • Sales rank: 228,251
  • File size: 272 KB

Meet the Author

Jon Katz
Jon Katz has written eleven books, six novels and five works of nonfiction. A two-time finalist for the National Magazine Award, he has written for The New York Times, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, and Wired. He currently writes about technology, media, and culture for the Web site Slashdot.org, and is a contributing editor to public radio’s Marketplace and to Bark magazine. A member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, he lives in northern New Jersey with his wife, Paula Span, a reporter for The Washington Post, and their college-student daughter, Emma Span. Jon Katz can be e-mailed at jonkatz3@comcast.net or jonkatz@slashdot.org.

Biography

"I really don't know anyone in media who's been given the freedom I've had to spout off on a wide range of subjects," Jon Katz wrote in his 1998 farewell column for HotWired. As a writer for web venues such as HotWired and Slashdot, Katz has waxed enthusiastic about Internet culture and championed "geek life." As a contributor to Wired and Rolling Stone, he's written articles on technology, politics and culture. And as a book author, he's penned mystery novels, memoirs and more, at the rate of nearly one per year since 1990.

Katz began his career in traditional media, as a reporter and editor for the Boston Globe and Washington Post and as a producer for the CBS Morning News. His experiences in television became fodder for fiction in his first novel, Sign Off, which Publishers Weekly called "an absorbing, well-paced debut" about the corporate takeover of a television network.

Disenchanted with the world of old media, Katz signed on to the cyber-revolution as a contributor to Wired magazine and its then-online counterpart, HotWired. As pundit and media critic, Katz became a prominent voice of the libertarian, countercultural, freewheeling spirit that prevailed on the Web in its early years. After HotWired underwent a corporate transformation, Katz moved to Slashdot, a free-for-all e-zine that allowed him to continue spouting off on a wide range of subjects (for Katz, "open source" is not just a method of software development, it's a metaphor for free expression).

Meanwhile, Katz began a series of "suburban detective" books featuring private investigator and family man Kit DeLeeuw, who operates out of a New Jersey mall. The intricately plotted mysteries serve as "a framework for the author's musings on suburban fatherhood, a subject on which he is wise and witty and honestly touching," wrote Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times.

In 1997, Katz's digital-age pontifications took book form in Virtuous Reality, which tackled censorship, online privacy and the shortcomings of the media. Katz struck a more personal chord with Geeks (2000), a work of gonzo ethnography that follows two computer-obsessed teenagers and their struggle to escape the Idaho boonies. "Katz's obvious empathy and love for his 'lost boys,' his ability to see shades of his own troubled youth in their tough lives, gives his narrative a rich taste that makes it unlike other Net books," said Salon writer Andrew Leonard.

Katz turned to himself as the subject for a meditation on middle age, Running to the Mountain (2000) which chronicles the three months he spent alone in a dilapidated cabin in upstate New York. The result is "a funny, moving and triumphant voyage of the soul," according to The Boston Globe.

Then there's Katz's other pet subject: dogs. In A Dog Year , Katz writes about a high-strung border collie -- a canine "lost boy" he adopted and gradually bonded with. "Dogs make me a better human," said Katz in an interview. Given his recent contributions to The Bark magazine, dogs may make Katz an even more versatile and prolific writer, if that's possible.

Good To Know

Katz is so persuaded of the power of interactivity that he's refused to have his work printed by publishers unless they'll run his e-mail address with it. His published e-mail addresses include jonkatz@slashdot.org, jonkatz@bellatlantic.net and jonkatz3@comcast.net.

After a Slate writer made a disparaging comment about Katz's basement, Katz wrote a column describing the basement office where he works. Its accoutrements include a wooden cherub, portraits of Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln, and a collection of gargoyles. A Haitian voodoo "frame thingy" (in Katz's words) graces his computer.

In our interview, Katz told us more fun facts: "I see every movie that comes out, usually alone in a megaplex. I love the New York Yankees because they win a lot. My one brilliant move in life was marrying my wife Paula."

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    1. Hometown:
      Montclair, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 8, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Providence, Rhode Island
    1. Education:
      Attended George Washington University and The New School for Social Research

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
Welcome to Newark Airport

He was a two-year-old border collie of Australian lineage, well-bred but high-strung, and in big trouble. He had been shown at obedience trials in the Southwest. But something had gone very wrong with this arrangement and his breeder had taken him back and was working to find him a home. He needed one badly, she told me. That was all I knew about Devon when I drove to Newark Airport to pick him up.

I already had two sweet dogs and I had plenty of non-dog-related responsibilities as well. I wasn’t particularly keen on taking in a third dog.

But this breeder, who kept a fierce eye on her dogs even after they’d left her kennels, had been e-mailing me for a while. She’d read a book of mine called Running to the Mountain, which featured Julius and Stanley, not only as coverdogs but as major characters.

She called me up; before long we were spending hours on the phone. Deanne wasn’t pushing me, she kept saying, but she believed this dog belonged with me. She meant to make it happen.

I’d been fascinated by border collies for years, poring over books like The Versatile Border Collie by Janet Larson, browsing Web sites where owners post stories of their dogs’ weird behavior, exchanging tentative e-mails with breeders. They were such intelligent dogs, I’d read, and somehow exotic. But everyone I consulted said more or less the same thing: unless you have a hundred acres right outside your back door, don’t do it. I had only a normal suburban New Jersey yard—and did I mention that I already had two large dogs?

So I hemmed and hawed about adopting a border collie, especially one with more than the usual . . . issues. A part of me was drawn to the idea, but the rational part said: Stop! Danger ahead!

Deanne was patient, persuasive, persistent without being pushy, a subtle line she walked with great skill. The better we got to know each other, the more effective her message. Devon, she said, was a special case in need of special handling. He was uncommonly bright, willful, and emotionally beat up. From my book, with its descriptions of Julius and Stanley and of my cabin in rural upstate New York—close to border collie nirvana—she suspected that I had a high tolerance for odd dog behavior. And Devon was, well, odd.

After a few weeks of this back-and-forth, she put him on a plane and shipped him from Lubbock, Texas, eastward to his new life. On a balmy spring night, I stood outside the American Airlines baggage freight window in Terminal B.

Waiting nervously, I recalled in particular the warning of breeder and author Larson. She was straightforward: “In border collies, the wild type or wolf temperament is common and seems to be genetically linked to the herding behavior. This means that many border collies make unstable pets, and some can be dangerous. Remember that these dogs were developed as sheep herders, and in the mountains and moors they did not need to be sociable with strangers. As a result, shy and sharp temperaments are fairly common.”

In my thickly settled neighborhood only about fifteen miles west of New York City, you don’t encounter many mountains or moors. You don’t see many border collies, either.

Doing my homework had only increased my trepidation. Border collies need vast spaces to roam, I read. They had insatiable energy; they’d go nuts living out the fate of many suburban family hounds: locked in crates or basements all day while the grown-ups worked; never properly trained, socialized, or exercised; growing increasingly neurotic while the kids, for whose sake the dogs were allegedly acquired, often wound up ignoring them.

Border collies, I read further, sometimes mistook kids for sheep and nipped or bit them. They had peculiar habits, interests, needs, and mood swings. Working dogs in every sense of the word, diggers and foragers, they abhorred loneliness and inactivity and hated having nothing to do. If you didn’t give them something to keep them occupied, they would find something themselves.

They often had trouble with other dogs, herding or chasing them. They obsessively pursued squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, cars, and trucks—that is to say, anything that moved quickly away from them. Always in pursuit of something mobile, they’d take off explosively when they found it, racing after it at blinding speeds. Once launched, few things—shrubbery, fences, traffic, shouts—could slow them down.

Newark Airport is a sometimes overwhelming place, justly famous for its nearly continual mobs, traffic, congestion, and delays. Devon’s plane had been routed through Atlanta, and the airport monitors said that his flight would be late, though not how late. This had to be rough on any dog, let alone a wired-up border collie with a delicate psychological history. Poor guy. I pictured him in the dark hold, feeling the plane move, the crates and luggage vibrating as the deafening engine roared nearby. Terminal B was unlikely to be a welcoming destination, either.

I had only the vaguest sense of what this dog looked like. I’d declined Deanne’s offer of a photograph, mostly because I didn’t want to make an adoption decision based on looks. That was a bad reason, I thought, to get a dog.

Parts of his story were vague. He had never lived in a house much or, I gathered, had a single human to attach himself to. He’d been neutered only a couple of weeks earlier, by the owner, before she gave him back to Deanne. The usually routine surgery had gone badly: the vets couldn’t put him to sleep with the usual amount of anesthesia, so they increased the dosage, and then they almost couldn’t wake him up. He was iron-willed and smart.

“Devon’s got some things to deal with,” Deanne told me. My understanding was that Devon had been raised for obedience competition, had fallen short in some way and been replaced. This wasn’t an uncommon fate in obedience show dogs, who aren’t raised to be pets. When they fail—and they know when they fail—they have no real purpose.

So Devon had languished. “He needs somebody to connect to,” Deanne told me. “He’s discouraged.”

She also told me I could change his name—it was a tad Martha Stewart for my taste—but I figured he’d have enough to adjust to.
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Interviews & Essays

A Talk with Jon Katz, author of A DOG YEAR

You have written an acclaimed mystery series, a memoir of a “midlife adventure,” an exploration of computer geeks. Why a book on your dogs? Why now?
My theory is that you don't select the books, they select you. Because of Running To The Mountain, a Border Collie breeder I'd been e-mailing decided I ought to have Devon, and so he came. That led to a much more intense and dramatic dog year then I imagined. I was visiting the owner of Battenkill Books in Cambridge, New York, and regaling her with tales of this mad new member of my family, and how it had turned my life upside down, and she said, “Well, those are great stories. Why don't you write them?” Of course, once she said it, it made sense, but it really hadn't occurred to me. My editor liked the idea as well, so there it was, right under our noses, so to speak. I think many people have the illusion that writers carefully consider their book ideas. Mine seem to sort of explode underneath me. I feel like I'm following life, not leading it. But as to subjects, I love changing subjects. The bigger the turn, the more challenging for me, as a human and a writer. When I say I love change, I'm not kidding.


Julius and Stanley, your wonderfully sweet yellow Labs, seemed like perfect dogs. Why upset the balance with a rescued Border Collie? And then a second one?
To be frank, upsetting the balance wasn't a good idea, and I can’t justify it. It was hard on all of us, me as well as the Labs. I don’t recommend it. Something in me is drawn to the “lost boys” of the world, human and canine. I believe they canbe brought back from the edge if only somebody cares. But three dogs are a lot for a suburban middle-aged man, especially when two of them are border collies. Katz’s theory holds that when it comes to dog ownership, one Border Collie is equal to about five normal dogs. It turned out all right, although it was tough on Julius and Stanley, who probably deserved more attention and peace than they got. It turned out to be fascinating and powerful for me, but I can’t honestly look anybody in the eye and say it was justifiable or right. I’m not sure I would do it again, though even as I think that, I know I would.


You and Devon had some tremendous battles. Why didn't you just throw in the towel and send him back to Texas?
I was crazy about him from the first night on. I don’t think I ever could have taken him back to that airport and stuck him in a crate. We are both nuts in the same way, I fear. I’m not really into anthropomorphizing dogs, but this one has enormous personality, and I loved him dearly from the start. One reason it was such a brawl was that I knew quitting wasn’t an option. Some people think I won the brawl, but that’s a delusion, really. We fought to a draw, and I like to think we did because we both loved each other enough to hang in there. It took more patience and care than I thought I possessed, which was precisely why it was good for me.


Humor plays a big part in your writing. Why do you think that is?
I see myself as essentially ridiculous, to be honest. Life is sad sometimes but also hilarious, ironic and filled with strange twists and turns and if you take yourself seriously for a second–though, the people (and dogs) around me would never permit that–it would become unbearable. Especially, if you're a writer, I think, taking oneself seriously is an occupational hazard. Can’t do it. Life is absurd, and so am I. I tell myself that twice a day, and when I don’t, my wife, daughter and friends do it for me.

A DOG YEAR is quite pragmatic and honest. Was there a danger in being overly sentimental? How did you avoid this trap?
I swore when I started to write this book that I would try to avoid what I saw as a big trap for a book like this–sentimentality. Dogs aren’t humans, and no one should mistake one for the other. They are different, alien and ought to be treated that way. I decided to simply write about the dogs, concentrate truthfully on what happened. There are no heroes or villains in A DOG YEAR, just dogs and a human who happened to converge with one another at a key point in all of their lives. I see A DOG YEAR as a lifetime of dog experiences compressed into a year. But whatever emotion is in the book has to be self-evident. It doesn’t need to be described. Nobody saved anybody else’s life, although some lives sure changed a bit. I encounter too many people who over-sentimentalize the dog experience. It isn’t good for dogs to be treated like people. They need to be treated like dogs, which is to say, they need to be understood for what they are, not for what we project on them.

By the end of
A DOG YEAR, you have achieved a new balance with two new dogs. Have things settled down or are they still in flux?
Devon is not a mellow personality and once or twice a week, he will remind me of that (as in last week when he jumped through a screened window and into a neighbor’s house in pursuit of a cat, who he chased up to their attic. Two broken lamps). But it’s astonishing how mellow we are most of the time, how much he has calmed down, how long and quietly he naps by the family, how sweet he has become with other people. With Border Collies, unlike Labs, things are always in flux. They never really totally settle down, are always eager for work and new experiences. But compared to A DOG YEAR, it feels almost placid to me. He is a good boy with a great sweet heart and I am immensely grateful he crashed into my life. We have more fun than I would have imagined a man could ever have with a dog. He keeps me moving.

But are things really calmer?
No, not by a long shot. Okay, I like to kid myself that we have placid days, but that’s a ridiculous idea when you think about it. Last week, I was knocked nearly insensate by a rampaging herd of sheep. The dogs have been chased by wild dogs, butted by goats, and they constantly pursue countless squirrels, mice, chipmunks and raccoons. There is no such thing as a totally calm day with two Border Collies, especially when one of them is Devon.

I notice that Homer appears to have a knack for sheep herding. Have you pursued this further?
Yes, very much so. I am deeply into sheepherding. Homer and I take weekly herding lessons, have been to weeklong training camps several times. I’ve taken dog training classes, and he and I graze a Pennsylvania herd of 140 sheep three or four times a week. I love it, and plan to continue. He has won several ribbons (or I should say we have–the first thing I've won in my life). I find herding deeply satisfying, difficult and even spiritual. I love doing it. I’ve never had a hobby before, and this one is the one for me.
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 18 of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2002

    For all dog owners and lovers

    I truly loved this book. As I lent it to others, all have the same comment. It is their story, their experience. They remember the total joy, love, frustration, and sometimes anger that comes with new dog ownership, especially a special dog that is rescued. And despite it all, the book confirms that we will do it over and over again. It gives hope and inspiration to those going through their first year. And it provides a rememberance to those who survived that time. It is a must read for all dog owners and lovers everywhere.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2003

    A must read for dog lovers!

    I bought this book for my 13 year old daughter who loves dogs. She said it was wonderful so I began reading it myself. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was easy to read in bits and snatches while waiting to pick up kids etc. I just love the look on Devon's face on the cover photo--of course Jon had to keep him!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2003

    Wonderful! Easy Read.

    I first heard about this book on a TV show and I am thrilled that it stuck in my head. Jon paints the picture of his emotions and perceptions in your mind so well, you almost feel you are part of his life. I was extremely pleased with this book and gave it to the rest of my family to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2011

    Great book for Lab & Border Collie fans!

    Great story & what a year it was!!

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  • Posted November 7, 2010

    READ IT :)

    A great book for a border collie lover! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2003

    For the love of dogs

    One of the best books I've ever read, whether about animals/dogs or anything else. Emotionally and intellectually satisfying in every way.I've bought copies to give to friends, and I loved attending the discussion book-signing at Barnes & Noble in Morris Plains, NJ, where Homer and Devon/Orson were the stars of the show. A wonderful book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2002

    FIVE STARS GO TO JON!!

    Anyone who is a dog person absolutely must read this book. It will make you laugh, cry, and, in the end, you will genuinely enjoy each and every page. You'll be back for a second read too!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2002

    Laughed out loud

    I laughed out loud and i cried - wonderful book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2002

    Humorous and Touching

    I loved this book. Very well written, humorous, touching and at times heartwrenching! I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2002

    A Wonderful Little Book

    A Dog Year is a charming book that I laughed and cried through. For those of us who have learned that dogs/pets help us understand what's important in life and how to live it, this book is for you! I'm a bit of a slow reader, but I read this one particularly slow because I didn't ant it to end.

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    Posted January 18, 2010

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    Posted December 27, 2010

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    Posted January 6, 2010

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    Posted January 14, 2010

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    Posted January 8, 2011

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    Posted February 19, 2011

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    Posted April 4, 2011

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 18 of 15 Customer Reviews

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