BOOKS: Katz On Dogs

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2005:

Katz On Dogs: A Common Sense Guide
to Training and Living with Dogs by Jon Katz
Villard Books (299 Park Ave., New York, NY 10171), 2005.
240 pages. $24.95 hardcover.

Dogs have their place in Jon Katz’s
family, but Katz, author of A Dog Year and The
Dogs of Bedlam Farm, neither treats them as
children nor accords them equal status with
humans. He views no-kill shelters with
disfavour, arguing that there is little reason
to keep potentially dangerous, un-adoptable dogs
in a lifetime of crowded, noisy confinement.
Katz offers guidance both from his own experience
and from case studies about what kind of dog to
adopt, how to train and feed the dog, and how
to build a healthy rapport with a dog. Handling
the complexities of multi-dog families is also
discussed, as well as some ethical and spiritual
issues.
Though centered on useful information
about dog care, Katz On Dogs also discusses the
changing roles of dogs in modern American
society, and how increasing stresses on families
affect dogs.

Katz deplores the growing tendency to
sentimentalise dog behaviour. Referring to the
belief among many dog guardians that their
animals suffer separation anxiety’ when apart
from each other, Katz writes: “Tech-nically,
the term applies to the anxiety a small child
feels when separated from a parent.. .there is no
equivalent response in a dog.”
We believe this statement is too
sweeping. We know from our own experience,
especially during our years of managing the
Kalahari Raptor Center, how anxious animals
become in separation, especially social animals
such as dogs, lions, and meerkats. All of them
exhibit obvious anguish when separated from their
packs, prides, or den mates, and display
unmistakable joy and relief when
re-united–including with humans whom they have
admitted into their social circles.
–Chris Mercer
<www.cannedlion.com>
South Africa

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