A Dog Year_ Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me by Jon Katz

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By Jon Katz

Occasionally, swap comes on 4 legs.

In his renowned and generally praised Running to the Mountain, Jon Katz wrote of the power and aid he present in the big sorts of his yellow Labrador retrievers, Julius and Stanley. while the Labs have been six and 7, a breeder who’d learn his booklet contacted Katz to assert she had a puppy that was once intended for him—a two-year-old border collie named Devon, good bred yet high-strung and homeless. Katz already had an entire dogs complement—but, as he writes, “Change loves me. . . . It is available in all kinds. . . . occasionally, switch comes on 4 legs.” presently thereafter he introduced Devon domestic. A puppy Year exhibits how a guy came upon a lot approximately himself via one puppy (and then another), whose temperament appeared as diversified from his personal as day from evening. it's a tale of belief and knowing, of lifestyles and dying, of continuity and alter. it truly is through turns insightful, hilarious, and deeply relocating.

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Dogs don’t understand our conversations (although with Devon, I couldn’t be sure), but they definitely know whether you’re on their side or not. I wanted somehow to let Devon know that I cared about him. I wanted him to forgive the smack on the behind. No dog owner is a saint, and anybody can lose his temper in a difficult spot, especially when safety is involved. And I had a long and deep relationship with impatience. But apart from the obvious, the problem with hitting or screaming at dogs all the time is that it doesn’t work; they usually just become more fearful and anxious.

He seemed resistant, even sullen; he obeyed commands, but grudgingly. To subject him to a new person shouting commands could be counterproductive. So, no Ralph to tame the Helldog; the job fell to me. “When Devon accepts you as the leader,” Deanne said, “he’ll roll over on his back and show you his belly. That’s the gesture of submission. If he does that, you’ve won. If he doesn’t . ” I went out and bought a shorter leash and two choke chains, one to put around his neck, one to toss and make noise with during training.

I wasn’t recalling training manuals or border collie books or Deanne’s good advice or my own instincts and experience. We were back in a prehistoric era, caveman and semidomesticated animal. The bus rumbled away—the driver hadn’t even seen him—and Devon stood tauntingly in the street, almost daring me to do something. I was on him like a bear. I picked him up, one hand on his collar, the other on his haunches, and hurled him five or six feet onto the grassy strip next to the curb. He was light and agile and landed on his feet; he darted a few feet away, saw me charging, and stood his ground.

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