Feb 8, 2015

Tails from the Bark Side

True Stories from the Family Dog Files
by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson

I've been busy lately. With work, with my kids, and trying to get my aquarium healthy. Not much reading time, and that in bits and pieces. Which this book was perfect for- a collection of brief stories from the lives of two renowned dog trainers. Mostly about experiences in training dogs and teaching people how to properly handle their dogs. These are wealthy clientele, as the authors lived and worked in New York. They also had a training center or kennel in a rural area of New York state, and there are a few stories from early days in vet school as well. (The stories are not arranged chronologically and sometimes I was left confused at the setting or context- a bit more could have been explained). In spite of their brevity, the anecdotes were all fairly interesting and informative. Some funny, others sad. I was honestly stunned at the story of a bodyguard who wanted a protection dog trained. Very upsetting. Most of all what shines through these stories is the authors' skill in working with dogs, and their patience with foolish, ignorant or cruel owners- they always try to help and educate people when it would often be easy to express anger or ridicule. I also liked reading about what it was like running a kennel in the middle of a big city- I could relate to some of that, having briefly worked in a kennel once myself, but many aspects of it were very different!

Do you ever find unexpected connections between the books you read? I'm always tickled when they reference each other. Turns out these authors have worked with Roger Caras (they named one of their dogs after him) an animal expert and author I read widely in my teen years. Caras is just mentioned briefly here (perhaps he didn't want stories about himself in someone else's book.) They have also worked with Barbara Woodhouse while using dogs in films for television- and it was really interesting to see through someone else's eyes this woman's methods and personality. (I knew it was her before they even gave a name, because the first sentence of that chapter mentioned a woman who rode her own cows and trained horses in Argentina for the army!)

Rating: 3/5       233 pages, 1977

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