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A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me Hardcover – March 5, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 170 customer reviews

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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.

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1 edition (March 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375502971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375502972
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,089,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I rarely write book reviews but felt compelled to do so with this book. From the beginning, I could not connect with this author. He describes an idyllic and mellow life with his two labs - writing, walking, treats and regular forays to his cabin in the woods - and yet I could not feel that he had any personal insight into these two middle-aged dogs. At one point, he describes a hike with Julius in the Provincetown dunes where the dog ended up with cracked and bleeding paws, probably, the "sneering" vet told him, he was allergic to the beach sand. When the vet "smirkingly" suggested booties, Mr. Katz felt that both his and his dog's dignity would be injured. This is just one example where the needs and ego of Mr. Katz outweigh the real needs and desires of his dogs.

And then he gets a call from a Border Collie breeder with a two-year-old emotionally damaged BC who needs to be rehomed. The breeder had read one of his books and knew that Mr. Katz was the perfect person for this dog. She actually pesters him until he agrees to take the dog. Then the terrorized dog is put on a plane as opposed to being quietly driven to it's new home. When it arrives at the airport it is spinning crazily in it's crate and yet Mr Katz opens the crate door and surprise, the dog escapes. Then ensues a chase of seemingly immense, and to the dog, terrorizing proportion. It is eventually captured and taken to Mr. Katz home where it begins it's training with Mr Katz yelling commands that the dog is incapable of following, and then having "throwing" chains and pooper scoopers thrown at it along with corporal punishment. Mr Katz finds that the best way to exercise this needy dog is put a fence between it and the road and encourage the dog to chase large vehicles.
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