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A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me Paperback – May 6, 2003
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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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. With the arrival of the new dog, the lab's needs are put on the back burner. This is where I actually became emotionally involved in the book. I felt a great sense of sorrow for all three dogs. The emotional upheaval of the lab's lives meant that their golden years were sadly disrupted and little did I know as I was reading that they would shortly be "put down". As I read, my continual thoughts for the Border Collie was that if ever a dog needed a person familiar with operant conditioning (clicker training), it was this misunderstood dog. Next the younger lab is diagnosed with hip dysplasia and a heart condition. Mr Katz takes the dog to the cabin where they spend a day happily playing ball and then Stanley is euthanized. Mr. Katz writes that "Several friends and neighbors pleaded with me to collect more opinions, consider surgery, try holistic healing, get on the Web, or explore radical new diets. One even suggested adoption: I could seek a quieter home, where Stanley could live peacefully and perhaps longer." Mr. Katz states that he would rather have "died himself than give him away, break our extraordinary bond". I couldn't help but wondering how euthanasia fit into that scenario.
And when one thought things couldn't get any worse, the breeder calls again and once more, pesters Mr. Katz until he agrees to bring another Border Collie into this dysfunctional home and once more the dogs lives are in upheaval. And now it's Julius turn to become ill. He is diagnosed with colon cancer and quickly dispatched. I found it interesting when Mr. Katz finds that he has collapsing bones in his ankles and has to wear two braces, it is Julius that he credits with saving his life twice when he fell and could have frozen to death. Of his own injuries Mr. Katz writes, "It hurts. But I keep walking and hiking, and when I fall, I hear Julius's mournful cry." I wonder that Mr. Katz doesn't dispatch himself quickly as he did his dogs.
Mr Katz also speaks cavalierly about animal caretakers who he feels go too far in trying to give their animals the best and longest lives possible. I couldn't help but feel as I read that he was trying to justify his own rash actions. It would appear that when Mr. Katz tires of a dog, he is quick to euthanize. And sadly, I see that in a free sample of Mr Katz next book, I read that the Border Collie, after five years with Mr. Katz, is euthanized for biting three people. Why would Mr. Katz allow a dog who has bitten once an opportunity to bite two more people. This is a management problem and not an excuse to euthanize.
I will never buy one of Mr. Katz books again. Please don't support this author or he will get yet another dog to use as a subject for his next book.