Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The New Work of Dogs

The New Work of Dogs: Tending to Life, Love, and FamilyIn  the interest of full disclosure I stole the title for this blog entry from a book I read called The New Work of Dogs by Jon Katz(linked to the side)

Jon - Please don't be upset.  The truth is I do hope that I can piggy back off your clever title and gain a few more readers via search engines but I've also provided a link (click the book) so maybe they'll buy your book.  Even? 

Let me set the scene for what my life was like a few years ago.  I am in my late twenty's.  I recently changed jobs, got married, and moved to a different city.  It would seem like the last thing on my mind should be getting a dog.  And to be honest... it was.  My husband already had a dog and a house.  I loved all three of them (the husband, dog, and house) and life happily moved along for over a year.  But after settling into a happy routine I felt like there was something missing.  My husband, being much more intuitive than I am, tried to coach me through the trouble shooting process.  "Should we redecorate a room or two?"  "Maybe remodel one completely?"  He was right to an extent.  I did move into a ready-made life style and he was on track while trying to help me put my stamp on things.  But at the end of the day I didn't really feel a need to change the view.  The view is quite nice, actually.  What I wanted was an ongoing house project that was my creation and not something I was just maintaining.  Bingo! A dog. 

This can lead to all sorts of spin off topics such as: "Dogs or Kids?", "Two Dogs vs. One Dog - Pros & Cons", "Puppy or Adult", "Rescue or Purebred", the list can go on and on.  Some of these I've answered and some of these I have not. 

It is my opinion as a dog owner that issues like what kind of dog and where to get it are really easy.  We all have an idea of what we like and only takes minutes to go online and take a quiz to see if a particular breed fits your life style.  The questions get slightly harder as you start to honestly evaluate if you really have time to go for a walk every day and do your obedience class homework.  It's tough to give up trying that new Mexican restaurant with your co-workers because you need to run home and let the puppy out on your lunch break.  And how is your family going to deal with chewed up things?  However, the hardest thing of all is to ask yourself why you're really getting a dog.  I guess it's easy for some... they want a running buddy.  Okay.  I'll buy that.  But for me it was obviously more complicated.   

For anyone that knows it's more complicated for them The New Work of Dogs is a must read.  Jon Katz makes a study of all the complicated reasons people have dogs.  He presents it in stories that are easy to read.  You find yourself drawn to the subjects and starting to understand that even though you got a Corgi.  Her job isn't to herd cattle anymore.   It's to take care of you.  The New Work of Dogs helped me understand that there were some of my needs that a Corgi could meet beautifully all on her own without even trying, others that I could train her to do, and for the rest I was just going to have to understand that she was a dog... part of the family, but not a person.  And it's unfair to her dog-ness to try and make her human. 

The New Work of Dogs.  Pick number 3 on my top 4 books every dog owner should read.


Kelly said...

Great entry! I haven't heard of that book, but will look into it :) There definitely is more to owning a dog than most people realize!

Amy said...

It IS a good book. It kept me from becoming a total corgi psyco. For instance, I kiss my dog on the lips but don't call myself mom. HA! Gotta have balance, right?

Two other books that I LOVE are The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs by Patricia B. McConnell and Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote.

Any suggestions you can offer?