Review: 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.


Pup links!

Red Aussie puppy. Click for source.

Great dog-related links from around the Web this week:

Dogs in the Workplace. Happy Bring Your Dog to Work day! While my office would frown on dogs in our space, I think Pyrrha would actually do pretty well here, particularly since I have a very quiet department. Did you bring your dog to work? Would you, if your office allowed it? (Pawsh magazine)

Travel 101: Prepping Your Pooch. I found this list of travel preparations from Vanessa–who recently made a cross-country move with her family and dog, Rufus–very helpful. I’m taking a 5-hour trip with Pyrrha in July to visit my parents and many of these tips were really helpful and insightful. Also: Doesn’t Rufus’ travel hammock look so cozy? Now that’s how I want to travel on my next road trip! (The Rufus Way)

No Party Zone. Do you avoid having house guests because of your reactive dog? Kristine shares some thoughts and a recent near-encounter with their future landlord. (Rescued Insanity)

Couldn’t Have Been a Lab; They Don’t Bite. Katie reflects on the dangerous precedent we set by breed stereotyping. Just because a dog is a lab doesn’t mean that it’s incapable of biting or showing aggression toward people. (Save the Pit Bull, Save the World)

Bye-bye, Cesar Millan. Animal rights advocate and professor Marc Bekoff celebrates the news that Cesar Millan’s TV show “The Dog Whisperer” is being cancelled. I for one am glad to hear it. What do you think about it? (The Hydrant)

Stay Away from “Stay” with Fearful Dogs. This is an interesting perspective from a dog trainer who believes that teaching a shy dog to “stay” could actually ratchet up their anxiety levels. Makes sense to me. I’ve been trying to teach it to Pyrrha, and it does actually make her way more nervous than other commands. Maybe we’ll get there eventually. (My Smart Puppy)

Ebon’s Training History. A sweet post charting the evolution of training for a dog over the course of his life. It’s interesting to think about how our dogs change with us as we grow up. (Musings of a Biologist and Dog Lover)

Lessons Learned from Dogs: Morgan and Kuster. Tales and Tails is doing a really sweet series on what she’s learned from her four dogs. Here are the stories from the two more difficult dogs of her pack, the German shepherds. Very heartwarming and well written. (Tales and Tails)

Innovative Ideas: Helping the Homeless and Shelter Dogs. Discussion of a program in San Francisco that would pair homeless youth with shelter dogs. Sounds like a really great idea; looking forward to hearing more about it. (The Bark blog)

Animal Love. Just some pretty, dreamy photos of animals collected by one of my favorite lifestyle/design bloggers. (Miss Moss)

Superdog Lova. Great, playful photographs of this high-energy spaniel. Very sweet. (Ulicam)