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The Second-Chance Dog: A Love Story Hardcover – November 12, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (November 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345531175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345531179
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for The Second-Chance Dog
“No one speaks the language of a dog like best-selling author Jon Katz. His latest heartwarming memoir about finding love after struggling through a broken relationship . . . gives testament to how dogs can make us better human beings.”The Free Lance–Star

“[An] intimate story of falling in love with a woman and her extremely protective pet dog . . . Bittersweet in its telling, Katz reminds readers of the importance of human and animal connections.”Kirkus Reviews
“In this heartwarming story of love and redemption . . . dogs and humans alike get second chances at life, love, and growth. . . . This moving work is recommended for readers who want a true-life love story, for dog lovers seeking a book with a happy ending (the dog doesn’t die!), for seniors who think that receiving a Medicare card means that love is out of the question, and for dog trainers who want to learn more about Katz’s philosophy of dog training.”Library Journal

“The story [Katz] tells gives hope that no animal is beyond help, as long as enough love and patience are thrown in.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

Praise for Jon Katz
“With wisdom and grace, Katz unlocks the canine soul and the complicated wonders that lie within and offers powerful insights to anyone who has ever struggled with, and loved, a troubled animal.”—John Grogan, author of Marley & Me
“Katz’s world—of animals and humans and their combined generosity of spirit—is a place you’re glad you’ve been.”—The Boston Globe
“From Toto to Marley, our canine friends are a sure bet in the literary biz. But no one seems to speak their language like Jon Katz.”—San Antonio Express-News
“Katz proves himself a Thoreau for modern times as he ponders the relationships between man and animals, humanity and nature.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“I toss a lifetime award of three liver snaps to Jon Katz.”—Maureen Corrigan, National Public Radio’s Fresh Air

About the Author

Jon Katz has written twenty-five books, including works of nonfiction, novels, short stories, and books for children; he is also a photographer. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Rolling Stone, and the AKC Gazette, and has worked for CBS News, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. He lives on Bedlam Farm, in upstate New York, with his wife, the artist Maria Wulf, and their dogs, donkeys, barn cats, sheep, and chickens.

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

If you love books about dogs (as I do) I recommend it.
Inna Tysoe
This love story is about how Jon Katz met his second wife Maria and her ferocious shelter dog Frieda, a rottwieler/shepherd mix.
Pamela Barrett
A beautiful story of bringing hope and love into a life, and a troubled dog who who triumphs.
Tom & Jan Cowan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By R. Kyle TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You get the dog you need--this is author Jon Katz's take on people adopting dogs. Not only do we purposely look for a dog to fill a void in our lives--the dog intuitively senses what we are seeking and fills that role.

Maria came along in Jon Katz's life when he was at a low. He was over sixty, alone and separated from friends and family. His marriage was ending and he was despondent.

It was love at first sight -- at least, that's how Jon felt for Maria. Frieda, the traumatized guard dog Maria chose because she protected her from men....

This story is not just about Frieda, but Jon's recovery and Renaissance and the budding late-life romance between him and Maria. It's a hopeful tale all-around.

While I read the entire book, I found myself wanting to move past the people and back toward the dog--it wasn't for lack of compassion for either Jon or Maria, I picked up the book because of the title and I was hoping for more of a dog tale. Frankly, I needed badly to escape people for a bit. I'd say about 1/3 of the book is Frieda--her training and her story. Those pages had me riveted and often in tears because that's what I wanted and needed to read about. That's why I chose this particular book.

If the dog's story being a smaller portion of a larger tale is enough for you, you're good. Katz is an excellent author and an excellent detailer of his own character and that of our current society. I would gladly read more of his writing, but this tale should perhaps best be titled, "A Second Chance Life."

Rebecca Kyle, October 2013
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Rushmore VINE VOICE on October 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's what I think of as the Jon Katz Dance: he brings out a book; people review the book; Jon Katz reviews the reviewers. It can be unnerving, particularly if the reviewer doesn't love the book. So I am happy and relieved to say that this is my favorite of all Jon Katz's books.

I have been reading Jon Katz since his Suburban Detective mystery series in the 1990s (which I still consider his best fiction). When he started writing about his life at Bedlam Farm in 2004, I was instantly hooked. I did notice that other than Katz himself, there weren't a lot of people in those books. In one of my reviews I speculated that he was more comfortable writing about animals than about people. I am a regular reader of his blog and I know that he writes often about the people in his life. Maybe it was a book-length in-depth examination that he shied away from.

After reading this lovely book, I realize that it's a daunting task to write a whole book about meeting your soulmate.

Readers of the blog know that Jon Katz has a strong point of view. He comes across as quite confident and pretty much in control of his life. He does not keep it secret that at the time he met Maria, he was in a bad place emotionally. His marriage was breaking up. He was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But when he writes about Maria on the blog, it is pretty much about the present, how grateful he is to have her in his life, how much he loves her.

The book is the story of how they met. The Jon Katz of the book is way more vulnerable and tentative than the Katz of the present-day blog who reminisces about their meeting and coming together from a much stronger place. (At the time they actually met, I was not reading the blog.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kathy W TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This was a beautiful 2013 story about a loving spirit, a survivor-dog who only wanted love. Thorough Frieda's love, others also found love. It's as though she brought two troubled souls together at just the right time and gave them the strength they needed to clean up their own lives.

If you are a dog-lover, and especially if you "feel" for those animals who have been mis-treated and denied of the unconditional love they are so eager to give, I believe you will love this story as I did. It's not really like reading most stories. Our author, Jon Katz, writes in a way that made me feel that I was sitting across an old wooden kitchen table from him, with a cup of tea, while he told me his story. In an old farm house, with several old barns on the property, I could "see" everything so clearly as he explained how he came to meet Frieda, a Rottweiler-Shepherd mix, and Marie, Frieda's human.

Frieda was a rescued dog. Maria got her from the Queensbury, New York ASPCA. Frieda had fended for herself for some time in the harsh, cold winters of upstate New York, specifically living wild, abandoned and pregnant in the Adirondaks. As you read the story of Frieda's past, you will understand why she has certain behavioral qualities, extremely loving, yet obsessively protective, agressive, yet gentle. Can Frieda be retrained to share her big loving heart with others?

This book was really hard for me to put down. I read it almost straight through, with some sleep in between. Usually, I am a slow reader, but I felt compelled to hear all of Fried'a story. You will also find a website in the book, where you can go on-line to meet Frieda. I suggest you read her story first.
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