The Dogs of Bedlam Farm: An Adventure with Sixteen Sheep, Three Dogs, Two Donkeys, and Me

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Dogs of Bedlam Farm: An Adventure with Sixteen Sheep, Three Dogs, Two Donkeys, and Me

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Katz, whose books A Dog Year and Running to the Mountain earned him many faithful, dog-loving readers, here channels James Herriott's brand of agricultural humanism. It's a classic setup for amusing anecdotes: a 50-something "suburban rookie" buys a farm in upstate New York, stocking it with three border collies and a small herd of sheep. His skeptical wife agrees to the plan, but wisely forbids firearms, farm machinery and long trips in the pickup. This leaves plenty of latitude for adventures-lost sheep, horrible weather, the dramas of dog training and lamb birthing. Soon, the introspective author realizes that his interactions with dogs are about "trying to become a better human." After all, his dogs have unfailingly high expectations of him. The troublesome pup, Orson, becomes the great test of Katz's emotional maturity, requiring consistent discipline and love in the face of awful misbehavior (one of Orson's habits is eating sheep feces). "If we herd sheep for another decade or so," Katz writes, "I might make it: I might become a patient man." While there's no deeply surprising insight into human nature nor any particularly revealing information about canine behavior, these stories offer readers a potent stew of triumphs and failures, all tied together by the constancy of complicated, joyful, lovable dogs. Agent, Richard Abate at ICM. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Another Dog Year from Katz; this time, he's trying to train his bouncy border collies. A big national tour: will the dogs join? Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In a book that is similar to his A Dog Year (Random, 2002), Katz now recounts the year in which he trained his border collies and farmed. No longer in Pennsylvania, he faced lambing season during an extremely harsh northern New York winter. Although he discusses the training of the dogs to herd sheep, his primary purpose is to show that dogs are a reflection of their owners: that his improved attitude and behavior improved the behavior of his dogs. Sometimes funny, as when the sheep and donkeys misbehaved, sometimes sad, as when he gave away one of the dogs, the story always has the ring of truth. Readers feel Katz's frustration, joy, and triumphs. An enticing way for students in cities to learn what life is like on a simple farm, where life can be hard, but where neighbors help one another.-Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812972504
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/13/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 362,379
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

JON KATZ has written thirteen books--six novels and seven works of nonfiction, including A Dog Year and The New Work of Dogs. A two-time finalist for the National Magazine Award, he has written for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, and the AKC Gazette. A member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, he writes a column about dogs for the online magazine Slate and is co-host of "Dog Talk," a monthly show on Northeast Public Radio. Katz lives on Bedlam Farm in upstate New York and in northern New Jersey, with his wife Paula Span, a Washington Post contributing writer and teacher at Columbia University, and their dogs. He can be e-mailed at or at


"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, and

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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 21 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2006

    Inspiation for border Collie owners

    This book is truly amazing . John Kats did a great job in writing this book . His tale is like so many people that want to own property and then relize that this was not as easy as they thought. Mr. Kats has many struggles on hisfirst year of farming but no matter what hw does not give up. Eventhough he is riduculed for spending so much money on his animals he manages to pull thru against all odds. This book is heart warming and a ispiration for anyone that has lived or operated a farm thru the winter or anyone that has border collies or knows someone that owns a misunderstood border collie. Great book I recommend it to anyone that wants a book that at points they think it is the end but some how it is just the begining.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2004

    A must read for any dog owner.

    This is a must have book. Mr. Katz has managed to make me laugh, cry, and feel fear and resentfulness all within a few pages. Within the pages of this book, I have felt every emotion known to man.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2005

    Another Winner for Jon Katz

    For those of you who have followed the story of author Jon Katz and his dogs through his previous books, his latest will not disappoint you. Katz writes eloquently of his solo life in upstate New York with his 3 dogs, herd of sheep, and two donkeys. If you¿ve ever considered giving it all up and moving to the country to have a gentlemen farm, you should read this book for a dose of reality. Often humorous, always thought provoking, Katz lets the reader in on his trials and triumphs of learning about living with livestock (even in the dead of winter in below zero temperatures) and training his border collies to reach their potential as herding dogs. Especially poignant in this book for those of us in dog Rescue, is his thought process with regard to finding one of his dogs a new home. An excellent musing into why getting a dog may not always be ¿for life¿, the author¿s thoughts are genuine and lend a needed voice to those of us who are jaded from thinking we¿ve heard it all. I found his courage to be every enlightening. if you¿re interested in a solid read about dogs and their interactions with people this book is a must. If you have not already read his previous book, A Dog Year, you may want to read it first as this is a continuation of that work. Both are 5 star reads!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2013


    Awesome dude. Tooo lazy tovdo the rest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2013

    Nyanstar's epically awesomesauseome bio

    Name: Nyanstar ~!!!!!!!~ Gender: she-cat ~!!!!!!!~ Rank: leader ~!!!!!!~ Age: 26 moons ~!!!!!!!~ Appearance: smoky silver she-cat with awesome rainbow colored eyes and feathery wings ~!!!!!!~ Personality: awesome, epic, loyal, good leader, intelligent, gives good advice, random sometimes ~!!!!!!~ Mate: nope not yet ~!!!!!!~ Crush: nerp ~!!!!!~ Kits: nope ~!!!!!!~ Past: too epically awesome to explain ~!!!!!!~ Other: signature is ~Nyans†ar!

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  • Posted September 25, 2012

    Highly recommend.

    Enchanting story. Could hardly put it down and was read w/joy.

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  • Posted June 13, 2012

    A very good read!

    If you love animals and love every day life stories about people and animals than Jon Katz is the author for you.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Honey, let's take the dog and move to the country...

    Many of us who slog off to work each day wonder what it would be like to undertake a "simpler" life and perhaps spend more time with our dog. Katz did just that and his book gives a good look at the realities of life on a small sheep farm in NJ. Some great laughs and a few tears and the dog does not die at the end! Nicely written and an a book to savor. I enjoyed it enough to give a copy to each of a couple of dog-loving friends.

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  • Posted October 31, 2008

    I DON'T GET IT...

    This is the first Jon Katz book I've read and only because I was assured that no dog died. <BR/> <BR/>Instead, he leaves us with the image of a crying mother sheep whose twins stupidly get sold by him while he refuses to even consider retrieving them because, after all, he doesn't really like or love sheep.<BR/>If the incident had involved a Border Collie mother, well then, readers might have taken notice of his selective choice to ignore animal pain.<BR/>Instead, heaps of praise for his self-imposed isolation.<BR/><BR/>And what are we supposed to "get" out of this contrived country winter angst among animals he doesn't even enjoy? <BR/><BR/>And why didn't he just bring FOOD to his sister?<BR/><BR/>And, weirdest of all, why didn't he simply give HOMER the same love and respect that he gives to the new Lab? (Does Homer's new family REALLY enjoy having him constantly impose himself to confuse their dog?)<BR/><BR/>Strange stuff.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2008

    A reviewer

    I would highly recommend this book. It was beautifully written and really gives you view into the soul of the writer. The characters were easy to identify with. It is a wonderful story that animal & dog lovers will especially enjoy. This was the first book by Katz that I have read and can't wait to read his others. Truly enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2004

    Will dog farming be the next big revolution?

    Can people 'truly' discover themselves w/o the aid of fuzzy little loyal ones? Or, better yet, can it be realized as a religious sort of experience, a sort of meditation, a return to Hindu Zero, self and silence?

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    Posted April 14, 2009

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    Posted January 30, 2011

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    Posted December 27, 2010

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    Posted October 24, 2008

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