Book Review of: Bad Dog
(A Love Story)
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Bad Dog, by Martin Kihn (Hardcover, 2011)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
Pleasantly surprising and highly entertaining.
This isn't your traditional dog story. The basic theme is that, in
his quest to master his "bad dog," Marty learns to master himself.
Initially, Marty views the dog as the problem. But slowly, he comes to
realize Marty is the problem. In working with the dog, Hola, Marty gains
insight into his own failings and what to do about them.
While the book has some grammar gaffes, the writing is clear and
lively. The book is also full of information about dog training,
including a sort of sampler of the various dog training systems,
methods, and philosophies.
I think others may see this as a book about recovery, and I guess
that's not far off the mark. But I tend to avoid that genre. What piqued
my interest in this particular story was the dog angle. The jacket blurb
says "a less than scrupulous breeder" sticks him with a dog that he
probably should not have taken home. And that's how the story begins,
with the wife (Gloria) going away and probably leaving them (Marty and
Hola) forever. All because the dog is out of control.
Through Marty's eyes, this is what we see. The dog is the problem. I
find this a good allegory for life in general. Something isn't right,
and we see events through a lens that (mostly) excuses our own
culpability while focusing on facts that lead to the (false) conclusion
someone or something else is to blame.
Marty was astounded when a trainer told him that Hola was not a
problem dog and was easy to train. Then she backed that up with some
demonstrations. This, and other revelations, moved Marty away from the
failed approach he'd been using to one that actually worked. And I don't
mean just with the dog. But would he wake up in time to save his
marriage? We find out in the last chapter.
While this book would make a good addition to any animal lover's
collection or to the collection of someone who likes recovery stories,
I'm going to recommend it as a self-improvement book. Or maybe a
business book. I don't drink alcohol or hang out with folks who do, so
the recovering alcoholic part didn't register with me. What did register
was Marty's ability to see past his own constructions and find reality.
I think all of us could benefit from doing that, every so often. For
example, if your career is stalled out, going through this same process
that Marty did should allow you to rev the engine again.
|To avoid having your own bad dog experience, begin
with these tips:|
- Learn dog training basics. You don't need to be able to train your dog
to do fancy tricks. But you do need to train your dog on the basics such as
heeling while walking, sit, stay, and leave it.
- Learn people training basics. Here's where the dog-human relationship
often goes awry. You need to be consistent with your rules, lavish with your
praise, and restrained in your negative communication.
- Learn your dog's language. Your dog will communicate with you, using a
variety of sounds, gestures, and facial expressions. Pay attention!
- Teach your dog your language. Be consistent and deliberate in your
words, gestures, facial expressions, and commands. You will have to be very
conscious about what you might say or do that could confuse the dog, and
then make an effort to avoid those things.
|Dog Items Quick Links
- The reason a dog has so many friends is
that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.
- Don't accept your dog's admiration as
conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.
- If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when
I die I want to go where they went.
- There is no psychiatrist in the world
like a puppy licking your face.
- A dog is the only thing on earth that
loves you more than he loves himself.
- The average dog is a nicer person than
the average person.
- We give dogs time we can spare, space we
can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us
their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.
- Dogs love their friends and bite their
enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and
always have to mix love and hate.
- I wonder if other dogs think poodles are
members of a weird religious cult.
- A dog teaches a boy fidelity,
perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.
- Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes
like never washed a dog.
-Franklin P. Jones
- If I have any beliefs about immortality,
it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and
very, very few persons.
- If your dog is fat, you aren't getting
- My dog is worried about the economy
because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That's almost $21.00 in dog
- Ever consider what our dogs must think of
us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most
amazing haul -- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're
the greatest hunters on earth!
- Women and cats will do as they please,
and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
-Robert A. Heinlein
- If you pick up a starving dog and make
him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal
difference between a dog and a man.
- You can say any foolish thing to a dog,
and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right!
I never would've thought of that!'
- Dave Barry
- Dogs are not our whole life, but they
make our lives whole.
- If you think dogs can't count, try
putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only
two of them.
- My goal in life is to be as good a person
as my dog already thinks I am.
Other Dog Websites|
Assistance Dogs International
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About these reviews
You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds
of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?
I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it
dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for
reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have
to say about a book, why bother?
And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such
reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of
people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would
This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a
problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards
such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.
My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about
the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I
remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review
contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader
about the book.
A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but
revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book
About your reviewer
- Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I
listen to audio books.
- Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too
short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no
substance. That leads into my next point...
- In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
- I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher
submitted it to the local paper.
- For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left
that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that
publication (and for other publications).
- No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm
presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing
than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I
stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000
articles ago! (It's been a while).
- I have an engineering degree and an MBA,
among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my
methodical approach toward reviews.
- You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect
score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for
whatever it's worth.
About reading style
No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate.
But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for
Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as
you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed
reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is
great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in
graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading,
and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.