Dogged Pursuit: How a Rescue Dog Rescued Me

Dogged Pursuit: How a Rescue Dog Rescued Me

by Robert Rodi

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Overview

Dogged Pursuit: How a Rescue Dog Rescued Me by Robert Rodi

Read Robert Rodi's posts on the Penguin Blog.

"A charming, hilarious look at a little-documented world." -- People

In dog years, Robert Rodi is 350. Age, however, couldn't possibly have prepared him for his experience with canine agility-the athletic cousin to best-of-breed shows. Rodi, an epicure and urban intellectual, picks up agility with aspirations for blue ribbons. His dreams of glory quickly fade when faced with the competition: hearty Midwestern handlers and their ferociously fit pups, who annihilate scrawny, scruffy, Dusty, Rodi's rescue dog and would-be champ, in the ring. The duo is utterly lost in the agility circles, but as in the best human/pet stories, they forge an everlasting bond to carry them through.

Combining the wit of Christopher Guest's Best in Show and the charm of Marley & Me, Dogged Pursuit is an uproarious account of a neophyte's year in the dog show world that abounds in humor and warmth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452296138
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/25/2010
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robert Rodi was born in Chicago in the conformist 1950s, grew up in the insurrectionist 1960s, came of age in the hedonist 1970s, and went to work in the elitist 1980s. This roller-coaster ride has left him with a distinct aversion to isms of any kind; it also left him with an ear for hypocrisy, cant, and platitudes that allowed him, in the 1990s, to become a much-lauded social satirist.

His first novel, Fag Hag, was published in 1991 and was swiftly translated into Italian, French, German, and Japanese. It was followed by Closet Case (1992), What They Did to Princess Paragon (1994), Drag Queen (1995), Kept Boy (1997), Bitch Goddess (2002), and When You Were Me (2007). His first nonfiction book, Dogged Pursuit: My Year of Competing Dusty, the World's Least Likely Agility Dog was released by Hudson Street Press in 2009.

Robert's shorter fiction can be found in a number of anthologies, including Men On Men 5, His, and Sandman: Book of Dreams. His novella Glad, Gladder, Gladys was serialized online at USAToday.com. His literary criticism has appeared in the pages of The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, NewCity, and The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review.

Robert is the creator of several comic-book series, including 4 Horsemen, Codename: Knockout, and The Crossovers. He was a founding member of the Chicago-based performance art troupe, The Pansy Kings, who were active throughout the 1990s, and he wrote sketches for the Live Bait Theater's revues Junk Food and Dear Jackie: The Queen of Camelot Remembered.

Robert still lives in Chicago, in a century-old Queen Anne house with his partner Jeffrey Smith and a constantly shifting number of dogs.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Tragically, Hip ix

Part I

Chapter 1 To Dusty I Shall Return 3

Chapter 2 What the Dickens 13

Chapter 3 Class Struggle 19

Chapter 4 Dee-lightful 25

Chapter 5 The Obstacles of My Affections 33

Part II

Chapter 6 A Measure of Difficulty 43

Chapter 7 The Agony and the Agony 53

Chapter 8 Trial and Terror 59

Chapter 9 Doubt and Distraction 71

Chapter 10 From the Jaws of Defeat 81

Chapter 11 Tales from the Cryptic 89

Chapter 12 Friends and Neighbors 99

Chapter 13 A Glimmer of Glory 107

Chapter 14 A Day at the Orifice 117

Chapter 15 Magic Time 127

Chapter 16 Alley Oops 133

Chapter 17 Hounds for the Holidays 141

Chapter 18 A Rum Business 151

Chapter 19 One for the Team 157

Chapter 20 Polarized 165

Chapter 21 Bloodied and Bowed 175

Part III

Chapter 22 The Leash Tugs Both Ways 189

Chapter 23 Ifs, Andi, Buts 195

Chapter 24 Psyched 203

Chapter 25 On, Blitzen! 211

Chapter 26 Rescue Me 219

Chapter 27 Punc'd 229

Chapter 28 Not So FAST 235

Chapter 29 A Break in the Battle 241

Chapter 30 Hop Alone 249

Chapter 31 At the Crossroads 261

Epilogue: Never Give Up 269

Acknowledgments 272

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

Combining an inside look at an engaging, colorful subculture, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and an examination of how a man and his dog can transform each other, Dogged Pursuit offers reading groups a range of topics for vibrant discussion. We hope that the following questions will aid you in exploring the major themes, incidents, and ideas that populate the book—and inspire you to uncover more of them on your own.

 


ABOUT ROBERT RODI

Robert Rodi was born in Chicago in the conformist 1950s, grew up in the insurrectionist 1960s, came of age in the hedonist 1970s, and went to work in the elitist 1980s. This roller-coaster ride has left him with a distinct aversion to isms of any kind; it also left him with an ear for hypocrisy, cant, and platitudes that allowed him, in the 1990s, to become a much-lauded social satirist.

His first novel, Fag Hag, was published in 1991 and was swiftly translated into Italian, French, German, and Japanese. It was followed by Closet Case (1992), What They Did to Princess Paragon (1994), Drag Queen (1995), Kept Boy (1997), Bitch Goddess (2002), and When You Were Me (2007). His first nonfiction book, Dogged Pursuit: My Year of Competing Dusty, the World's Least Likely Agility Dog was released by Hudson Street Press in 2009.

Robert's shorter fiction can be found in a number of anthologies, including Men On Men 5, His, and Sandman: Book of Dreams. His novella Glad, Gladder, Gladys was serialized online at USAToday.com. His literary criticism has appeared in the pages of The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, NewCity, and The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review.

Robert is the creator of several comic-book series, including 4 Horsemen, Codename: Knockout, and The Crossovers. He was a founding member of the Chicago-based performance art troupe, The Pansy Kings, who were active throughout the 1990s, and he wrote sketches for the Live Bait Theater's revues Junk Food and Dear Jackie: The Queen of Camelot Remembered.

Robert still lives in Chicago, in a century-old Queen Anne house with his partner Jeffrey Smith and a constantly shifting number of dogs.

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • The story revolves around Robert Rodi’s adoption, training, and competing of Dusty, the world’s least likely agility dog. Dusty’s presence, as a result, pervades the book, though he never speaks a word. How, in the absence of dialogue, does Robert convey Dusty’s character and build him into a legitimate protagonist?
  • Early in the book, Robert remarks that “only persons can have personalities;” he later changes his mind after speaking with his friend Andi. In your opinion, what is personality? (Robert describes it as “the set of reflexes, impulses, traits, and responses that differentiate one individual from all others.”) Can animals truly have it?
  • At several points in the book Robert observes that Dusty’s behavioral problems exactly mirror his own, and he speculates that he has “infected” his dog with his bad attitude. Do you think Robert was right? Can pets “learn” surliness and orneriness from their humans? Have any of your animals ever reflected your personalities?
  • As the book progresses, Robert unexpectedly finds himself becoming a member of a community formed by his agility training colleagues. How does Robert build the idea of this group of disparate characters as a functioning community, and how does his acceptance by them change him, and change Dusty? Discuss the communities that have been important in your own lives. (For instance, your reading group!)
  • Throughout the book, Robert presents himself as someone who enjoys literature, classical music, fine cuisine, and Italian wines. Is Robert a snob? If so, does he change over the course of the book? If not, what is it about his character that saves him from snobbery?
  • In Chapter 20, Robert draws a comparison between most agility competitors, who know a very great deal about their chosen culture, and himself, someone who possesses a smattering of knowledge about a great many things. Which of these best describes you? Which is your spouse, your best friend? And which, if either, is preferable?
  • Robert begins with a strong desire for “glory,” and it’s this motivation that drives him for most of the book. How does his definition of the term change over the course of the narrative? Given that he doesn’t accomplish his original goal (to take Dusty to the national championships), do you consider him a failure? If not, what were his successes?
  • Robert’s partner Jeffrey remains a background presence until the final chapters. What is Jeffrey’s role in the story? Did the sequence of unexpected events that bring Jeffrey into the foreground surprise you? Was this shake-up dramatically satisfying for you? If not, what would you rather have had happen?
  • The book is clearly intended to be a celebration of canine agility and the people who compete in it. After reading it, do you feel that agility is something you might like to try? Or does it seem to you too strange, or cult-like, or silly?
  • In Part Three, Robert tries out a number of unconventional ideas, including having Dusty “read” by an animal communicator, and submitting him to acupuncture therapy. Do these seem like valid choices to you, or was Robert being gullible, wasting his time and money?
  • Do you think Robert will have any better luck with Harley, the dog he adopts at the end of the book? Or does it even matter? Is the point of training and competing alongside your dog unrelated to how well you actually do at tit? Has Robert learned anything? Have you?
  • How does this book compare with other dog memoirs you’ve read? Would you recommend it to a friend who isn’t interested in dogs? Is there something universal in the story that anyone can appreciate, or is it strictly for pet lovers?
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