Cover image for A dog year : twelve months, four dogs, and me
A dog year : twelve months, four dogs, and me
Katz, Jon.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Waterville, Me. : Thorndike Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
259 pages ; 23 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


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SF426.2 .K38 2002B Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print - Closed Stacks

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A warm, humorous, and moving memoir of the enriching and ennobling experienceof living with dogs is penned by the author of "Running to the Mountain." Copyright © Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.

Author Notes

Jonathan Katz initially worked as a reporter and editor for The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, and later as executive producer of the CBS Morning News. Jon Katz is now a media critic, a journalist, and the author of several books covering a vast repertoire of topics.

Katz has written several novels as well as non-fiction works which cover topics ranging from geek culture to his relationship with dogs. His titles include The Story of Rose, Dancing Dogs, A Good Dog, Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm and The Second Chance Dog: A Love Story.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

In Running to the Mountain (1999), Katz wrote fondly of the strength and love he found in the companionship of his dogs, Julius and Stanley. In his latest book, Julius and Stanley are growing older and Katz has agreed to take in a homeless Border collie, Devon. Devon is extremely high-strung and presents a serious challenge to the author, who is used to the peaceful repose he shares with his staid pets. Katz details the long and torturous months spent helping Devon adapt to his new life and to helping the dog overcome his deep-seated fears and insecurities. Katz tells an honest story, carefully detailing how difficult it can be to take responsibility for a dog, particularly a maladjusted one. He sticks it out though, and using patience and good-humor, he ultimately helps Devon become a loved and loving member of the family. Sadly, Julius and Stanley both die during this time, and Katz stoically documents their deaths and honors their memories. A great book that dog lovers will definitely enjoy. --Kathleen Hughes

Publisher's Weekly Review

The story line of Katz's latest book can be summed up very simply two dogs die and two new ones join the family but its charm comes from an intricate blend of witty anecdote and touching reflection. Katz (Geeks, Virtuous Reality) has shared his affection for years with two low-maintenance Labs, whose "chosen work was to reflect on the state of the world, lick neighborhood kids, and accompany [him] through midlife." So it is somewhat surprising that he next adopts a frenetic and demanding border collie he occasionally refers to as "Helldog." His life turned upside down; his writing schedule disrupted, he learns to center his life around a dog's needs rather than vice versa. After adopting the homeless Devon, Katz adopts his second border collie, Homer, because Oprah Winfrey urges him to. (He appears on her show for his book about his Labs, Running to the Mountain.) He's fallen in love with the breed's intelligence and curiosity. In fact, both breeds seem to touch something in his soul the Lab his centered, peaceful side; the border collie his troubled side. Over the course of the year, Katz reflects on the importance of devotion to and understanding of any animal taken into the home; ways to live peacefully with border collies; and even the problems of midlife crisis. "Once in a great while," he muses, "the right person is fortunate enough to get the right dog, to have time to take care of it, to connect with it in a profound way." (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

After mentoring a troubled teen, as recounted in Geeks, journalist Katz describes another kind of mentoring process: his adoption of Devon, a broken-spirited two-year-old border collie. A breeder who had read Katz's account about his two yellow Labs (Running to the Mountains) suggested that the author take the dog. From Devon's frenzied entrance into Katz's life, escaping from the confines of his crate into a busy airport, to his exultant, trusting leap into Katz's arms one year later, this memoir is warm and heartfelt. Although it lacks the searing intensity of Elizabeth Rose's For the Love of a Dog (LJ 7/01), there are the moving anecdotes about Devon's stunning intelligence: "When [Devon] found a loose slat, he wiggled his nose furiously, pushing the wood to one side. He squeezed through the narrow opening and then here's the scary part turned around and pushed the slat back into position." Katz's style and vocabulary are flowing and accessible, and sure to appeal to canine fans. For all public libraries. Cleo Pappas, Lisle Lib. Dist., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Katz's smooth, flowing writing style and engaging manner of describing the personalities of his four dogs will captivate even reluctant readers. That he unobtrusively conveys lessons about dignity, discipline, and trust along the way is a bonus. In the opening pages, the family has two golden Labrador retrievers (Julius and Stanley) of tranquil and stately demeanor who have meshed perfectly into the rhythms of the author's daily writing routine and are beloved by neighbors in their suburban NJ locale. Then, he takes in Devon, a high-strung, two-year-old Border collie "with emotional issues." Surmounting the challenges presented by this beautiful and intelligent (but willful and anxious) animal, bonding with him and restoring equilibrium, fill many an entertaining chapter as the author cajoles Devon into accepting his new owner as the alpha male in the pack. Further adjustments are necessary as illness prematurely claims the lives of both Labs, and a Border collie puppy, Homer, is introduced into the household. In final chapters, wanting to satisfy the collies' native instincts as working dogs, Katz seeks out a training opportunity for them to experience herding sheep, and is rewarded by appreciation for their aptitude and high-energy intensity on the job. Throughout the story, adventures are touching, humorous, and winsome.-Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One Welcome to Newark Airport He was a two-year-old border collie of Australian lineage, well-bred but high-strung, and in big trouble. He had been shown at obedience trials in the Southwest. But something had gone very wrong with this arrangement and his breeder had taken him back and was working to find him a home. He needed one badly, she told me. That was all I knew about Devon when I drove to Newark Airport to pick him up. I already had two sweet dogs and I had plenty of non-dog-related responsibilities as well. I wasn't particularly keen on taking in a third dog. But this breeder, who kept a fierce eye on her dogs even after they'd left her kennels, had been e-mailing me for a while. She'd read a book of mine called Running to the Mountain, which featured Julius and Stanley, not only as coverdogs but as major characters. She called me up; before long we were spending hours on the phone. Deanne wasn't pushing me, she kept saying, but she believed this dog belonged with me. She meant to make it happen. I'd been fascinated by border collies for years, poring over books like The Versatile Border Collie by Janet Larson, browsing Web sites where owners post stories of their dogs' weird behavior, exchanging tentative e-mails with breeders. They were such intelligent dogs, I'd read, and somehow exotic. But everyone I consulted said more or less the same thing: unless you have a hundred acres right outside your back door, don't do it. I had only a normal suburban New Jersey yard--and did I mention that I already had two large dogs? So I hemmed and hawed about adopting a border collie, especially one with more than the usual . . . issues. A part of me was drawn to the idea, but the rational part said: Stop! Danger ahead! Deanne was patient, persuasive, persistent without being pushy, a subtle line she walked with great skill. The better we got to know each other, the more effective her message. Devon, she said, was a special case in need of special handling. He was uncommonly bright, willful, and emotionally beat up. From my book, with its descriptions of Julius and Stanley and of my cabin in rural upstate New York--close to border collie nirvana--she suspected that I had a high tolerance for odd dog behavior. And Devon was, well, odd. After a few weeks of this back-and-forth, she put him on a plane and shipped him from Lubbock, Texas, eastward to his new life. On a balmy spring night, I stood outside the American Airlines baggage freight window in Terminal B. Waiting nervously, I recalled in particular the warning of breeder and author Larson. She was straightforward: "In border collies, the wild type or wolf temperament is common and seems to be genetically linked to the herding behavior. This means that many border collies make unstable pets, and some can be dangerous. Remember that these dogs were developed as sheep herders, and in the mountains and moors they did not need to be sociable with strangers. As a result, shy and sharp temperaments are fairly common." In my thickly settled neighborhood only about fifteen miles west of New York City, you don't encounter many mountains or moors. You don't see many border collies, either. Doing my homework had only increased my trepidation. Border collies need vast spaces to roam, I read. They had insatiable energy; they'd go nuts living out the fate of many suburban family hounds: locked in crates or basements all day while the grown-ups worked; never properly trained, socialized, or exercised; growing increasingly neurotic while the kids, for whose sake the dogs were allegedly acquired, often wound up ignoring them. Border collies, I read further, sometimes mistook kids for sheep and nipped or bit them. They had peculiar habits, interests, needs, and mood swings. Working dogs in every sense of the word, diggers and foragers, they abhorred loneliness and inactivity and hated having nothing to do. If you didn't give them something to keep them occupied, they would find something themselves. They often had trouble with other dogs, herding or chasing them. They obsessively pursued squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, cars, and trucks--that is to say, anything that moved quickly away from them. Always in pursuit of something mobile, they'd take off explosively when they found it, racing after it at blinding speeds. Once launched, few things--shrubbery, fences, traffic, shouts--could slow them down. Newark Airport is a sometimes overwhelming place, justly famous for its nearly continual mobs, traffic, congestion, and delays. Devon's plane had been routed through Atlanta, and the airport monitors said that his flight would be late, though not how late. This had to be rough on any dog, let alone a wired-up border collie with a delicate psychological history. Poor guy. I pictured him in the dark hold, feeling the plane move, the crates and luggage vibrating as the deafening engine roared nearby. Terminal B was unlikely to be a welcoming destination, either. I had only the vaguest sense of what this dog looked like. I'd declined Deanne's offer of a photograph, mostly because I didn't want to make an adoption decision based on looks. That was a bad reason, I thought, to get a dog. Parts of his story were vague. He had never lived in a house much or, I gathered, had a single human to attach himself to. He'd been neutered only a couple of weeks earlier, by the owner, before she gave him back to Deanne. The usually routine surgery had gone badly: the vets couldn't put him to sleep with the usual amount of anesthesia, so they increased the dosage, and then they almost couldn't wake him up. He was iron-willed and smart. "Devon's got some things to deal with," Deanne told me. My understanding was that Devon had been raised for obedience competition, had fallen short in some way and been replaced. This wasn't an uncommon fate in obedience show dogs, who aren't raised to be pets. When they fail--and they know when they fail--they have no real purpose. So Devon had languished. "He needs somebody to connect to," Deanne told me. "He's discouraged." She also told me I could change his name--it was a tad Martha Stewart for my taste--but I figured he'd have enough to adjust to. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from A Dog Year: Rescuing Devon, the Most Troublesome Dog in the World by Jon Katz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.