and not in a fun playing in the snow kind of way. I actually read it quite some time ago and never would have posted about it because I hated it so much, but now Katz is at it again with the publication of his latest book Dancing Dogs.
For those who don't know who he is Katz is an ex technology writer and self annoited dog expert. On the surface he appears to be a caring person who genuinely adores dogs. That is what you might think until you read through A Good Dog. If you read the book it becomes clear that Katz is a narcissist who likes dogs simply because he enjoys the attention they give him. He also appears to know very little about dogs and much worse is unwilling to learn.
In the book Katz takes in a troubled Border Collie, Devon in real life and Orson in the book:
Anyone who knows anything about dog breeds knows that Border Collies are not for newbies and can be very challenging, they need a very special type of owner. Despite knowing very little about Border Collies Katz takes in Orson and initially delights in him and his troublesome antics, so much that he appears to ignore his older dogs, two labs that he know seems to think are boring in comparison to Orson. In fact Katz becomes so wrapped up in Orson that he moves to the country and writes two books about the dog: A Dog Year and The Dogs of Bedlam Farm that make him quite a bit of money and lead to speaking and more writing on dogs.
That might seem fine, but meanwhile Katz is failing Orson, his supposed canine soul mate, misserably. In A Good Dog Orson writes about how Orson, who always had behavioral issues, "suddenly" becomes aggressive. However, every biting incident (and none of them where very severe) is entirely preventable with basic management . Most of the nips/bites occur when Katz has workers and friends come to his home, instead of crating or leashing Orson he leaves the dog loose because he feels that restraining him would be in some way wrong. Then he is upset when Orson nips or bites, and not at himself at the dog. Other bites occur over the fence on his property, which he admits is not secure enough to contain Orson, still Katz blames his poor dog.
Anyone with an even basic understanding of dog behavior knows about barrier frustration, basically dogs behind a fence or leash get excited and frustrated when they cannot reach the dog or person on the other side and that excitement can result in biting and other forms of aggression. I see it my own dogs which is why they are never in the yard unsupervised. Of course with positive reinforcement you can reduce barrier frustration BUT management is also key. That is why all children, and adults, should be taught never to pet a dog through a fence and why dogs should rarely greet on leash, particularly when they are excited. Katz the supposed dog expert seems to know nothing about barrier frustration.
When Orson begins displaying really troubling behaviors Katz does not invest in a quality behaviorist, which he could easily afford. He does try accupuncture and an animal communicator. He decides not to pursue expensive medical tests, despite being very well off (from money he made of the dog in question). He decides not to build Orson a better enclosure because he feels he will be lonely, despite the fact that as a stay at home full time writer he could spend plenty of time with Orson. He decides not to crate Orson when friends come over. In the end he decides to kill his supposed friend. Orson in euthanized for his aggresive behavior.
If a newbie dog owner, a person with limited financial means, or a person with young children had made the decision Katz made I don't think I would fault them. But Katz is a self professed dog nut and supposed "expert" in dogs. For him to fail the dog that made his career possible is simply unconscionable. If you are thinking of buying or reading Dancing Dogs please don't and please tell everyone you know not to read it too, Katz does not need to make anymore money. The money spent on his books could be used to help the many wonderful dogs languishing in shelters. (Oh Katz is thoroughly against rescue dogs too).