New books for dog-lovers
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1994:
Curing Your Dog’s Bad Habits: Treating
Behavioral Problems, by Danny Wilson.
Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. (387 Park Ave. South,
New York, NY 10016-8810), 1994. 108 pages,
Dog trainer Danny Wilson’s advice about dealing
with difficult dogs should be self-evident to any observer
of canine behavior. Yet astonishingly many people, even
purported dog-lovers, substitute a rolled-up newspaper for
good sense when it comes to enforcing canine discipline.
This isn’t hard to understand, as proper dog-training takes
at least 20 minutes a day, which many busy people just
don’t have. It is to be understood that dog-training time, a
concerted period devoted wholly to the dog, is not to be
confused with time spent in the company of both dog and
family, or jogging with the dog, or walking the dog. Any
of these occasions may be adapted into a dog-training ses-
sion, but only if there is a daily opportunity for reinforce-
ment. Most dog keepers, myself included, settle for a dog
who is housebroken, responds to the word “No,” and is
eager enough to please that she instinctively avoids most
displeasing behavior, while faithfully protecting home and
family. That’s adequate, until and unless the dog develops
a bad habit. Then you’ll need Wilson’s help, especially
his illustrative case histories. His book is clear, simple,
and succinct, exactly what busy people need to help them
cope with their often under-occupied dogs.
Maya’s First Rose, by Martin Scot Kosins.
Villard Books (201 East 50th St., New York, NY
10022), 1994. 113 pages, $14.95, paperback.
Anyone who has ever nursed a beloved pet
through a terminal illness can identify with much of Martin
Scot Kosins’ memoir of his dog Maya, who died in
1988––and it’s tempting to cheer for the underdog, too, as
Maya’s First Rose gained a major publishing house impri-
mateur only after finding an audience the hard way, as a
self-publication. However, Kosins’ mourning crosses the
lines from grief to obsession to conceit. He needs a new
dog, a life, and an editor: no paragraph in this volume is
over one sentence long, and some of those sentences are so
cloying they’d make an author of greeting cards gag.
Kids’ Best Dog Book, by Michael J. Rosen.
Workman Publishing Co. (708 Broadway, New York,
NY 10003), 1993. 128 pages, paperback.
Kids’ Best Dog Book presents a wealth of practi-
cal detail about everything a child might want to know
about dogs, with emphasis upon grooming and play. In
particular, author Michael Rosen encourages children to
combine play with training, which seems to come natural-
ly to children anyway: our son Wolf was working out
stunts with our husky-mix Zooky almost as soon as he
could walk. There is so much of value in Kids’ Best Dog
Book that mentioning a handful of omissions and errors in
a brief review may give the wrong idea.
The most noteworthy omission is the lack of
advice on what a child should do when bitten, as most
children are at least once, no matter how well they treat
dogs. As Wolf has already learned somehow through
horseplay, a dog’s teeth are meant for tearing. Most dog-
bite damage occurs as the victim jerks one way, the dog
jerks the other, and the dog’s curved teeth cut ever deeper
into flesh. Wolf, on the other hand, pushes his bitten
limb straight back, deeper into the dog’s mouth––and the
dog has no choice but to let go. Of course Wolf hasn’t yet
come up against a dog who really intended to maim him
(and we hope he never will.) But I have, both before and
after Guy Hodge of the Humane Society of the U.S. taught
me the technique of pushing against a bite instead of
pulling away. It works!
Rosen’s errors come mainly in brief “Fido
Facts,” included as sidebars. The worst: “Sixty percent of
all dogs who live past the age of 17 are mutts.” No source
for this statistic is offered, but since up to 75% of all dogs
are mutts, it could be taken to mean that mutts are less
healthy than purebreds, the opposite of the message Rosen
means to convey. In fact, virtually all dogs who live past
the age of 17 are small, and both poodles and mutts with
poodle genes have a better chance of living that long than
any big dog.
With those provisos, get Kids’ Best Dog Book
for your dog-crazy child. It’ll be read to tatters.
Kids’ Best Field Guide to Neighborhood
Dogs, by Michael J. Rosen. Workman
Publishing Co. (address above), 1993. 57 pages,
A paperback edition of the breed charts found on
the walls of every veterinarian’s office and most animal
shelters, Kids’ Best Field Guide to Neighborhood Dogs
encourages children to record sightings of 75 of the most
common of the 135 American Kennel Club-recognized
breeds, just as bird-watchers record bird sightings. Once
again Rosen includes some dubious statistics, e.g.
“Humane Society experts say that 60% of the dogs brought
to shelters are shepherd mixes, meaning one of the dog’s
parents was probably a purebred or mixed-breed German
Shepherd.” What experts, where? Our own voluminous
files suggest that whoever it was took the highest verifiable
number and doubled it.