Review: Doggerel

Doggerel.

I was contacted by this book’s publisher–obviously, I think, because of this blog’s name–to review Doggerel: The Moving Memoirs of Rescue Dogs and Their Second Lives, in Poetry and Prose, by Angela Patmore.

The book contains photos and poems for 50 U.K. shelter dogs who were either recently rescued or in need of a home. The proceeds from the book go to the Association of Dogs’ and Cats’ Homes, a U.K. rescue organization.

Patmore, a former organizer for Scruffts, the U.K. dog show for mixed breeds, clearly has a lot of love for homeless dogs. She is, however, not a poet. I know that this book isn’t intending to achieve any high literary acclaim, but the poetry is so abysmal that it’s almost embarrassing to see it in print (e.g., “When dogs are indoor angels just/Their wings are made of light/But when you look up into the sky/Whole outdoor ones go sailing by/Invisiball to sight”). The photos were nice, however, and I always like reading about dogs who have been rescued; I’d just rather read about them in a format that wasn’t nonsensical verse.

The second half of the book is a how-to guide for U.K. residents who are planning to adopt a dog. There is a comprehensive directory of U.K. shelters and rescue organizations, and Patmore places particular focus on rescuing greyhounds, which I appreciated. She includes general statistics on the dismal state of dog adoptions in the United Kingdom and implores her readers to consider adoption.

The brief training recommendations made me wince. It’s more of the same, worn-out, disproved dominance theory stuff: Make sure your dog knows that you are the alpha, always eat before your dog–and the absurd recommendation that you should pretend to eat some of your dog’s kibble before you give it to him, just so he knows that you’re “in charge”! Wow. That’s a new one. To teach heeling, Patmore says, “If he pulls ahead, which is much more likely, give a jerk on his collar and say ‘Heel!'” All I could think about was that poor dog’s neck, not to mention his increasing lack of comprehension…

I wish I liked this book more, particularly since I was given a review copy. Overall, this may be a nice little book to hand off to adopters who walked out of your U.K. rescue organization with a new furry companion, but it’s not one that I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn anything about raising a rescue dog. The bad poetry, for me, obscured the meaningfulness of these dogs’ memoirs and almost served to cheapen their experiences, by reducing their complex histories to silly couplet rhymes and forced syntax. If you really want to learn about rescuing dogs, I’d direct your attention to PetFinder’s adoption book or Love Has No Age Limit, which provided far more valuable information in 50 pages than this book did in 186.

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Pup links!

A patient mix tolerates the aspiring dentist. Source: LIFE Magazine.

Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

Veterinary Myth-busting Part 2: Feeding Dry Food Prevents Dental Disease. There you have it. I’ve read that kibble doesn’t prevent dental disease in several places, but it was nice to hear it from a blogger’s perspective, too. (Borderblog)

Doca Pet High Tea Feeder. If we do get a big dog (like a GSD), I’m in the market for an elevated feeder. This one is so sleek–and expensive! Sigh. (Dog Milk)

Worth Waiting For: See Scout Sleep Collars and Leashes. This new line of collars and leashes is really beautiful and functional at the same time. I love the simple, bold, geometric designs. (Under the Blanket)

Everyone’s a Critic: Ai WeiWei’s “Sunflower Seeds.” Fern and Theodore are totally bored by Ai WeiWei’s installation. I love it. [Side note: You may recognize Theodore from the cover of Love Has No Age Limit!] (City Dog/Country Dog)

Robert Clark. Photographer Robert Clark’s glamorous studio shots of show-worthy pooches. (Afghan hounds are always the most fun to photograph.) (Pawsh Magazine)

Pomeranian Puppy Refuses to Eat His Broccoli. Oh, the adorable-ness. It’s killing me. Pom pups barely look real. (Best Week Ever)

I was also tagged by Volunteer 4 Paws (formerly Inu Baka). I’m kind of new to the realm of blog tagging, so bear with me; here are my answers. Since I don’t have my long-awaited dog yet, these answers are about me.

  1. Describe yourself in seven words: Opinionated, detailed, organized, cautious, motivated, content, eager.
  2. What keeps you up at night? What if my future dog is evil? What if he/she cannot be trained? What if I fail my future dog? What if my future dog doesn’t love me? And so forth.
  3. Who would you like to be? A fraction of the fullness of the glory of God.
  4. What are you wearing right now? Skinny black jeans, black high-heeled oxfords, terra cotta blazer from the Gap, cashmere blend sweater from Banana Republic.
  5. What scares you? Losing my family.
  6. The best and worst of blogging? The best of dog blogging, specifically, is the wonderfully warm and helpful community I’ve found here. I started from ground zero in my dog knowledge and everyone has been so encouraging to me along the way. Keep that advice coming! I lap it up. The worst of blogging is the nagging feeling that it’s just an exercise in perpetual vanity. I actually feel less that way about this blog, since Doggerel is an educational venture; my personal blog is another matter…
  7. What was the last website you visited? Miss Moss, one of my favorite non-dog blogs.
  8. What is the one thing you would change about yourself? Just one? Well, that I would worry and fear less.
  9. Slankets, yes or no? Yes, if they come with night cheese.
  10. Tell us something about the person who tagged you. Thanks for the tag! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog since I started my journey in canine education and look forward to continuing to glean from your wisdom in dog caring, raising, and loving. Your giving heart and insightful nature is inspiring to me!

Review: Love Has No Age Limit

Love Has No Age Limit, by Patricia McConnell and Karen London

This is the book I have been waiting to read. Ever since I made it known here that we were leaning toward adopting an adult dog, everyone told me there was only one book I needed to read: The new release from Patricia McConnell and Karen London, Love Has No Age Limit.

After poring over this wonderful, practical, little volume, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the only book that a potential dog adopter needs to read. The book is slightly over 100 pages, but McConnell and London say everything that needs to be said to prepare your home and heart for a rescued dog.

Love Has No Age Limit has a strong emphasis on preparation. The authors do all in their power to keep their readers from being blindsided by the many challenges that come with adopting a dog. But with their advice, these challenges are not daunting; rather, McConnell and London equip their audience with the right tools and the right perspective to rehome any dog.

I appreciated their practical tips for preparation, such as: Don’t give the dog full reign of your house right away. Treat the dog as if she is not housetrained, even if the adoption agency says she is; the stress of moving to a new home can cause some dogs to forget the rules of going inside or outside a house. Set your house rules with your family before bringing the dog home (this one struck a chord with me, because I am going to need to do about two months of instruction to get my husband up to speed with all that I’m thinking about and planning for our dog).

McConnell and London, per their backgrounds as well-respected animal behaviorists and trainers, also emphasize the importance of establishing a relationship and a bond. With some dogs, this bond may be instantaneous; with others, it may take a few months or even a year or more. Knowing that both are acceptable possibilities has helped me tone down my fears about adopting an adult. “It often takes a year to fully integrate a dog into your household,” the authors say, and this was such a relieving reminder. Everything does not have to be ideal all at once; don’t expect a perfect dog in two weeks.

The overwhelming message of this book is to have patience with one’s adopted dog. This was such a welcome message to me. After all of my months of planning and research, I am plagued by the thought that I am going to mess the dog up, that he or she won’t be “perfect”–which is silly. Of course the dog won’t be perfect. Of course I will make mistakes. McConnell and London just keep saying, “Have patience. Have patience with yourself and with your dog.” And that’s the message that matters.

Disclaimer: I requested a review copy of this book from Patricia McConnell’s publishing house.