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review 2015-11-01 13:00
Mine by Jean Donaldson
Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs - Jean Donaldson

GR Cleanup Read in 2011


This is a book for a dog trainer or serious and dedicated dog owner who is facing guarding resource problems (getting all growly, bitey over food, people, furniture, etc.) This book isn’t for the casual pet owner because it’s far too technical and dry for a brand new pet owner but I’d recommend a copy for anyone who has done some obedience work and fosters, rescues, etc. because you really never know what you may face until you get the dog inside your home.

The author lists step-by-step techniques and guidance to help a dog become a safe(r) member of the family and society and addresses only guarding problems and body handling issues. One of the desensitization programs has 40+ steps and dogs can backslide (there are tips for this) if you go too fast, so this is no quick fix people. But it’s a great alternative to euthanasia or negative /harsh training methods.

Personally, though I find the steps and the information in the book extremely helpful I didn’t care for the overly technical jargon the author uses. It made the book deadly dull to read from cover to cover (which I did) but I will keep it and I’m sure I will find it incredibly helpful when faced with a dog exhibiting these issues but then I can just skip over to the chapter helpful to me at the time.

I really like this author's perspective. She says that people expect dogs to live their lives without ever losing their temper and says that's like expecting a person to go through life never getting angry and raising their voice. Well, I would've been put down at 13 if that were the case ;)

I also appreciated the chapter on preventing these situations in the first place by socializing, touching and grooming a puppy. These chapters should be mandatory reading for everyone bringing home a new puppy. There is only a small window during puppyhood to do this and it’s soooo important and something so many dogs don’t get to experience thus the issues with nail clipping, vet handling and growly behavior. I can’t tell you how many dogs I groomed in my short stint as a groomer who bit, peed, screamed and were absolutely petrified to be touched in any way.

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review 2015-05-23 10:39
A Chet-like Mystery for Younger Audiences, a fun counterpart for readers of all ages
Woof (Bowser and Birdie) - Spencer Quinn
One quick sniff and I knew that BLTs were in that basket. BLTs were an odd human invention, sandwiches filled with weird tasteless stuff no one in their right mind would be interested in -- except for the bacon. In case you missed that, I'll mention it again: bacon!

This is just cute. That's all there is to it. A cute MG novel, featuring a nice little girl with a lot of spunk and her new dog, Bowser. A fun mystery novel with a lot of heart.


Birdie Gaux is an 11-year-old mix of Flavia De Luce, Izzy Spellman, and Inspector Gadget's niece Penny (from the original cartoon, natch). Fiery, spunky, determined, far too curious and independent, a little too comfortable with shading the truth/outright lying, with a clever dog friend. While her mother works on an offshore oil rig for months at a time, Birdie lives with her grandmother and helps in the family's struggling bait shop. She doesn't remember much about her father, a police detective killed in the line of duty when she was very young.


After getting Birdie her late birthday gift, our new friend Bowser, Grammy and Birdie stop at the bait shop to discover they've been robbed, while the comic relief employee napped a bit. The only thing taken was Grammy's stuffed marlin -- a family heirloom passed down from her father after his return from World War II. The adults -- Grammy, the Sheriff, and the napper are ready to write the marlin off as a lost cause, but Birdie's not.


Birdie and Bowser are galvanized into action -- she's sure she smells cigar smoke in the shop, and Bowser finds the remains of a cigar nearby for her, convincing Birdie that she's right. The Sheriff is a nice enough guy, who's more than willing to listen to Birdie's thoughts about the case (listen -- not really act upon) -- but he's not going to invest too much energy into investigating the theft of a dead fish, no matter the sentimental value. So Birdie, with the help of some friends (including the Sheriff's son) and a nice -- and easily confused -- woman from the local retirement home, sets about hunting for the missing marlin (and some secrets that may be hidden within).


There's a little danger, peril and excitement along the way, but nothing inappropriate for the age group. Bowser gets the worst of it, honestly, while Birdie is mostly safe. There's some hints of problems looming for Grammy, some dark events in Bowser's past, and that sort of thing. The sharper young readers will catch that, others won't -- it'll either add some nuance and flavoring to the experience or it won't -- nothing that will affect the understanding of the story.


Quinn is much beloved around here for his series of novels about Bernie, the P. I., and his partner Chet the Dog -- narrated, as this book is, by Chet. For the sake of diversity, I was hoping that Bowser wouldn't narrate the novel in Chet's voice. But he does -- which is mildly disappointing for me, because I'd rather get the original. But as for attracting new readers -- particularly a new demographic? It's perfect. And while sure, I grumbled occasionally while reading -- and here -- about Bowser being Chet without the Police Dog Training, it's still a fun voice. One that you have little trouble imagining would belong to a dog.


Not the most demanding of reads, nor the most complex of mysteries, Woof is a pleasant introduction to a new series that I hope will be around quite awhile, I look forward to getting to know Birdie, her dog, her friends and family a lot better. I imagine that soon enough, I won't be alone, and that Quinn has found himself a whole new fan-base.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2015/05/22/woof-by-spencer-quinn
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review 2015-01-11 05:18
Wolf to Woof
Dogs: A Short History from Wolf to Woof - Evan Ratliff,Angus Phillips

My parents know me quite well, so their Christmas gift to me was a trip to a wolf and wildlife rescue center. (Best present ever.) As I was petting a 105-pound timberwolf, I found myself amazed by the similarities and differences between wolves and dogs. The wolf--they kept emphasizing that he was not a tame animal, but he definitely knows how to sit for photographs and be adorable for training treats-- displayed startlingly similar body language to dogs. He wagged his tail, did "play-bows," rubbed and leaned into us (although that usually meant knocking us over), he licked our hands, and he tried to lick us in the face. He also went into my dad's pockets and tried to steal his gloves.


We also went to another wildlife preserve that had larger packs of wolves, and witnessed the rather terrible treatment of the omega. The poor omega wolf was lying alone on a far off rock, but at one point, he tried to approach the rest of the pack, who were curled up together in a heap of fur, his tail and ears down. The pack immediately jumped up and attacked him. He showed every sign of submission, even rolling on his belly, and even so, they bit him, growled at him, and chased him back off to his lonely rock.


All of it left me with a multitude of questions.  Is a German Shepherd more closely related to a wolf or a chihuahua? Given that most of the common beliefs about pack dynamics are utterly mistaken, how does the pack really function? If even small wolf groups designate an omega to abuse, why don't we tend to see omegas in our "home packs", even when the household has four or five dogs?


I decided on a New Year's resolution: to understand more about wolves, pack dynamics, and the origin of dogs.


Dogs: A Short History from Wolf to Woof, which is basically just a few National Geographic articles and a cover, was the only such book available in my library's ebook collection. It's a fast and easy read--I think it took less than a half an hour. The articles are mostly puff pieces, with a lot of "man in the street" dog stories, but I also picked up a few fun facts:

  • It's not clear when humans began to domesticate dogs, but 14,000-year-old fossils of humans and dogs have been found together, including a 12,000-year-old burial of a woman with a puppy cradled in her arms.
  • Dogs have "tinkertoy genetics": most of the distinctive traits that characterize the dog breeds are controlled by a single gene. Some examples of single-gene switches include the dachshund ("badger dog") stumpy legs, floppy versus erect ears, the "ridge" of Rhodesian ridgebacks, and more.
  • The explanation for the "tinkertoy genetics" is mostly human intervention: humans selectively bred dogs for herding, hunting, etc, even in the early phase of domestication. At the same time, dogs with genetic mutations (such as really short legs) were able to survive in human villages where they might not have survived in the wild. When, about 200 years ago, people became very interested in creating new breeds, single-switch genes were the easiest to find and manipulate.


Overall, I enjoyed the read, just as I ordinarily enjoy National Geographics articles, but my quest to understand dogs and wolves is far from complete.

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review 2014-12-28 00:00
I Woof You from the Bottom of My Heart
I Woof You from the Bottom of My Heart - Kathy Vassilakis Bella knew that she and Sophia would be best friends from the moment they first met. The thing that makes this story different is that it is told from the point-of-view of Bella, the dog!

This book delivers the message that the love of a pet is unconditional and everlasting. While this message is certainly worthwhile, the rhyming text is a bit forced and the story would be better served by being told in simple prose. The illustrations, also by the author, greatly add to the tale. They are simple and colorful and clearly demonstrate the love this pair has for each other.

A great story for new young pet owners.

I received this book in return for an honest review.

3.5 stars

Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2014/12/i-woof-you-from-bottom-of-my-heart.html
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review 2014-09-24 12:30
Amazing Gracie by Dan Dye
Amazing Gracie: A Dog's Tale - Dan Dye;Mark Beckloff

Still cleaning up my database one old review at a time.


I have a love/hate thing going with these dog books. I love reading about dogs but they only live so long and, well, you know how that story ends.  I like to think I'm too tough to cry but these books always get to me.


Dan Dye was mourning over the loss of his childhood companion Blue and didn’t think he was ready for another dog. When the book begins it has only been eight weeks since Blue’s passing and he is still very heart-broken. But often, as I’ve discovered, dogs have a way of finding you exactly when you need them most and he adopts Gracie a deaf, blind in one eye, albino Great Dane scheduled for euthanasia (the next day!). Dan thought he was rescuing Gracie but Gracie is the one who saves Dan and helps him find his place in the world.

I adored this book and will unashamedly gush about it to whoever will listen. If you are a dog lover you need to read it. If you are stuck in a crap job and aspire to living your dream you also need to read it. If you could care less about these things you might want to skip it because it is as much a story about the love between a man and a dog as it a story of working exceptionally hard and being strong, persistent and brave enough to dare to start a business when nearly everyone around you thinks your nuts. Dan and Gracie and their partner (1 human and 2 canines) become famous for being the founders of Three Dog Bakery and I was so happy for them.

Written with warmth and humor I immediately fell in love with this story. It was a riveting, heartwarming, tear-jerking keeper of a book. 

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