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A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me Paperback – May 6, 2003

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A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me + The Dogs of Bedlam Farm: An Adventure with Sixteen Sheep, Three Dogs, Two Donkeys, and Me + A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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."

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

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
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812966902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812966909
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bedlam Farm in upstate New York is where I live, write and tend my animals - four dogs, two donkeys, two barn cats. The rambling old farmhouse was built in 1862; it's surrounded by pastures, streams and wooded hillsides, plus four barns and a milkhouse in various stages of disrepair.

I write books- memoirs, novels, short story collections, and beginning in 2011, children's books. I am also a photographer.

In my former life, before I grew preoccupied with sheepherding and moving manure around. I wanted to change my life and write more about the experience of living with and understanding animals.
I write novels and nonfiction books (I've written 20 books), along with columns and articles for Rolling Stone, Wired, the New York Times, and the website HotWired.
Coming to the farm turned out to be a Joseph Campbell style "Hero's Journey." I went off into some dark places, got divorced, struggled to face myself, and found someone to share my life.

My wife Maria Wulf is an artist, who specializes in fiber art. She works in the Studio Barn across the road from the farmhouse. Earlier this year, I thought briefly of selling Bedlam Farm. After getting married, we decided to stay here. My daughter Emma, a sportswriter living in Brooklyn, has written her own book about New York baseball. I publish a blog I love dearly - My photos appear there daily. My dogs are Izzy, Lenore, Frieda and Rose, the working dog who helps me run the farm.

My writing life began with a novel - "Sign Off" - an unwittingly prescient story about the jarring changes in work and security.

This year - 2010 - I am returning to fiction. I've written a novel, "Rose In A Storm," about a border collie stranded on a farm in upstate New York during a terrible storm. I wrote this book in conjunction with some animal behaviorists who helped me enter the mind of a dog, and hopefully, be faithful to that. My first children's book "Meet The Dogs Of Bedlam Farm," will be published by Henry Holt next year. I have just finished a short story collection to be published next year by Villard/Random House.
In recent years, photography has become central to me as well as writing. I have been fortunate enough to have several gallery showings of my work, and also sell my photos as notecards through the Redux Gallery in Dorset, Vt.

I am also working on a book about animal grieving. Hopefully, it will be useful.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Jan D on August 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you have not already read this book, I would recommend you read the reviews for the book which chronicles the end of Orson's life (the gorgeous dog on the front cover. In A Dog Year you are introduced to Katz's pet project - Orson. We are lead to believe that Orson (aka Devon) is Katz's soulmate and Katz is the person who can save the poor troubled and mis-handled Orson. Although I somewhat enjoyed a Dog Year, I was worried that Katz had taken on something he didn't understand. Orson's final book - A Good Dog - proved me right. Katz cannot handle Orson and eventually euthanizes him. Katz made his money out of Orson by writing these books and then gave up on him. Considering the depth of feeling that Orson had for the author - I was left incensed and speechless at the end of A Good Dog. As an aside - the other border collie you are introduced to in a Dog Year is given to a new home because he doesn't fit with Katz either. So, before putting even more money into the coffers of a man who said that he could not justify spending money on Orson to find out what his issues were, I would refrain from spending money on this book.
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69 of 79 people found the following review helpful By J. Branson on June 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
Before you buy this book, you need to know that Devon, the Border Collie, is killed by Katz, as detailed in the later book "A Good Dog." Katz had his two yellow labs, Julius and Stanley, killed at the first sign of illness, before attempting any treatment. He tells Devon, on page 88, "I will never abandon you," playing up his promise to his dog as something solemn and sacred. Although I thought Katz did almost everything wrong in this book, I was willing to forgive it because he claimed he loved Devon and was dedicated to the best care of his "soulmate." Then I come to find out that Katz has written another book about having Devon killed, while the dog was young and in good health, for what Katz decided were insurmountable behavioral problems. This new book, A Good Dog, makes the argument that it is the moral responsiblity of dog owners to kill their pets at the first sign of trouble instead of spending money on training or medical treatment. For Katz, you had better be young, healthy, and happy, or you get the ax. This is a disgusting person who should not be allowed to own animals. He most definitely should not be viewed as an animal lover or an expert on animals. Do not buy any books written by Jon Katz.
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79 of 92 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book made me very uncomfortable in many ways. I wanted to like the book and I wanted it to be heart-warming, but everything this author did caused more heartburn than warm fuzzies. He was perfectly happy with two yellow labs and a routine that suited them all but he couldn't help but adopt a border collie and ship him to his home in...suburban New Jersey!? My stomach turned. His "education" of the dog was a tad rough by his own admission, throwing metal choke chains and physically striking the what, 30 or 40 pound dog? I was a bit embarrassed for him for admitting it publicly. He put his yellow lab down when he still had many good days of playing and companionship ahead of him and was not in pain. His choice, but I felt a bit queasy. He caved in and brought a second border collie into the house against his better judgement. I wanted to scream. This must be a man who can't say no to all of those telemarketers. I am very happy things worked out for him in the end, but I still need antacids to get over the angst this book has given me.
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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Dusty on April 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
I don't read much so am irritated when I get stuck finishing such a rotten little book. This book is a self-interested rambling mess. The set up: Sedate middle age man gets feisty intelligent border collie because a breeder who read his book thought they were a good match (?). One internet search on border collies would provide enough information to tell him this breed was not a good fit. Border collies are intelligent and sensitive and need to be throughly trained. This usually require (demand) more time and effort than other breeds.

In the book we meet Devon when he gets loose in the crowded airport (Katz's fault). He boosted that the dog was a "champion border collie" to discourage an officer from calling in animal control. Although he had no experience with Devon, he was less concerned that a frightened dog would bite when cornered than passing up the chance to let strangers know he had a "special" dog. Katz's treatment of Devon is disturbing (yelling, throwing chains, hitting) as is his lack of judgement in letting Devon chase trucks. Regardless of the fact a barrier was in place, he was setting a dangerous precedent.

What's frustrating is that Katz had the money to pay professionals who would have trained both him and the dogs but didn't bother asking for help. Maybe having a dog that was miserable because it didn't know how it was expected to behave was more entertaining.

Katz should have stuck with labs. Less interesting book material but a better fit for his personality/lifestyle. He is making money from the misery his own dog ownership is imposing. Consider that purchasing his books will encourage him to spread tales of his poor actions and decisions.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J. Moretti on June 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
I just discovered Mr.Katz's books and started with the Bedlam Farm book which I thought was good.(NOBODY DIES IN THAT BOOK). There were mentions of labs in that book so I got A DOG YEAR next....I am just so shocked and angry that someone would put a dog to sleep that they loved so much just because it was getting old. I have a 10 year old pug with her share of health issues which bring me to the vet sometimes on a weekly basis and I could not even dream of putting her "TO SLEEP" because of it....I had all his other books and the new one on my list of books to get and I think I will pass on those after reading this one and the other reviews of A GOOD DOG where someone else meets the same fate. Poor Stanley.
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