I received a copy of this audiobook from Tantor Media. Thanks Tantor!
I’ll be real here. I requested this audiobook because of the cover. I had a vague idea that this was a book of dog stories and had seen the title around for years (yikes, I just realized this is likely because the hardcover is sitting in my tbr pile!) but I had to have it because that cover called out to me.
Come on now, don’t tell me you aren’t tempted by that lovely cover because I won’t believe you.
Dog trainer and author Suzanne Cloutier loves animals.
“To travel in the company of animals is to walk with angels.”
If you feel the same, you’ll benefit in some way from reading this book.
So what’s it about? Well, the author is an experienced dog trainer and here she shares stories and lessons that she has learned over the years while working with dogs. This isn’t a book about how to train your dog to sit or heel or down-stay. This is a book on how best to deepen your relationship with your dog and how to learn to look at life through their eyes. I found that advice and those vignettes the most important take-away from this book. It’s easy to get stressed and irritated when your dog misbehaves and ignores your commands/demands/frantic pleas but taking a moment to calm yourself and see things from their perspective (and the author shows several examples which were so incredibly helpful) may help improve both their behavior and yours. I am totally guilty of being impatient and anxious and giving my poor dogs mixed signals and then I’m left wondering why they’re not doing what I think they should be doing. It also made me more aware of being present, instead of being all up in my own head (hey, I’m a Pisces) and then wondering why my dog has nearly taken my fingers off to get to the chicken in my hand. This book opened me up to my behavior and has made me stop and pause on several occasions.
The author comes across as human, sprinkling in some humor and admits to some of the terrible mistakes she’s made. She owns them and she’s learned from them and she is not perfect. She goes into in-depth discussions about aggression and the mislabeling of aggression that often results in tragedy and how to read warning signs before things escalate. I learned more about aggression and reading signals from this book than I did from any of the training manuals I’ve read in the past.
It’s not a read in one sitting kind of book, unless you’re really into this kind of thing, because some of this information needs to be digested and given a little time to sink in. At least that was the case with me. The ending made me weepy, as she recalls some of the stories of illness and death which is inevitable when you love any living creature but it’s not of the dragged out “Marley & Me” variety. There are beautiful insights about animal and human behavior inside the pages and it basically comes to down to treating those you love with kindness, empathy and sharing all of your love in order to strengthen your relationship. That’s advice the world needs to hear. This book will be a yearly reread for me, for sure.
The version I read was narrated by Pam Ward who has a strong, clear, accessible voice that fills with emotion when the words call for it. If you dig audio, Buddy, Bailey and I highly recommend reading this version.
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