Two Fictional Dog Books NOT to Read

It’s a bit strange, but my favourite genre for books is ‘animals that talk’. I read a lot of books which involve talking animals. A lot. And I have since I was a little kid.


I scour the shelves in book and opportunity stores. A few years ago, I chanced upon a book called The Plague Dogs in an opportunity shop.

It was by Richard Adams, the author of Watership Down. You know, the wildly successful book and movie with talking rabbits? But, instead, it was a book with talking dogs! I purchased the book without hesitation. Dogs that talk! My favourite!

This book took me a while to get through. It’s a heavy and slow-going read. I was on the bus to work when I got to the last 50 pages or so. Ecstatic, I knew I’d finish it on the bus ride home.

As I hopped on the bus on the way home, I encountered a problem. My book was not in my bag. Coincidentally, my work had just moved office buildings, and that was my last day at the ‘old building’. I rang the bus company and my book was nowhere to be found.

How could I finish the last pages of a book published well over 30 years ago?

Luckily, one of my dog friends had a copy and I borrowed the book to read the last 50 pages. And I finally finished the book!

Why did I tell you this story?

Because it’s about a million times more interesting than the book.

Okay, so that’s a little harsh… But it’s also a lot true. This book took me about 18 months to read because it was so terribly boring. I am not a slow reader (I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in about 5 hours). It was just so slow that I didn’t want to read it.

In it’s time, The Plague Dogs was probably quite revealing. It queries the ethics of experimentation on animals. However, in 2013, it is less of a mystery when it comes to what happens to animals in research centres, and the ethicalness of such a practice is publicly questioned.


Timbuktu book by Paul AusterTimbuktu

I’m not one for writing negative reviews, so I thought I’d condense this one and give you two books not to read at once. All the negativity in one hit. It’s all the efficiency in writing that The Plague Dogs lacks!

I can absolutely say that this book was an engaging and interesting read, and a book I enjoyed reading.

When I was in primary school, during creative writing, we were not allowed to finish our stories with, “I woke up and it was all a dream”. I think this is an important memo that the author missed. No, it doesn’t end quite that way, but it still an incredibly unsatisfactory finish.

While this book was an enjoyable read, I felt like the book was taking me to a far better place. As I got to the last pages, I was thinking to myself, “Wow, this has only this much to go? How is it going to end?”

The answer? Really dumbly.

So it’s cool for you to read this book and it won’t take you long, but it’s probably not going to be a particularly gratifying experience once you get to the end and feel like the author gypped you of a satisfying conclusion.


But in the interests of impartiality…

Maybe I’m a grump, because Goodreads and Amazon reviews are much more complimentary for these two books. The Plague Dogs has 4 stars on Amazon and  4 stars on Goodreads (out of 5).Timbuktu has 3.5 stars on Amazon and 4 stars on Goodreads (out of 5).


Have you read these books? Did either book tickle your fancy?


Further reading: For a book I actually liked, see my reviews on A Dog’s Purpose and A Puppy Called Aero.


A Dog’s Purpose

My mum gave me a book: A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron.. This is not unusual – she often purchases books from op shops and, if she thinks they’re to my tastes, she hands them to me and says “I don’t want it back”.

But this book was different: My mum handed it to me with the instructions, “If you read it and you like it, you can keep it. If you don’t want it anymore, give it back!”

Book, A Dog's Purpose, W. Bruce Cameron

I can understand why. This book was very enjoyable to read, and I would recommend it to any dog lover (or even a mild dog liker).

I think this book would be easy to spoil if too much was said.  All I will say is that it’s about the soul of a dog who is reincarnated into many different dog bodies, each adding to his understanding of his purpose.

It’s simply written and could be enjoyed at all levels – but the older you are, the more this book will make you reconsider the relationship you have with your dogs. Are you allowing your dogs to fulfill their purpose?

And then, for yourself, you may begin to consider your own purpose, and how it compares to a dog.

A thought provoking book, with sprinklings of funny, and really charming (fictional) insights into ‘how a dog thinks’. If you have the chance to read this book, take it! You won’t regret it.

Further reading: A review by PupLove and another by Dog Spelled Forward.


Perfect Puppy in 7 Days

As a huge fan of Dr Sophia Yin’s blog, I kept seeing mentions of The Perfect Puppy in 7 Days book.  It seemed like a pretty cool idea, to me!

With my current litter, I always like to think about new resources for puppy buyers, and so started to investigate this a bit further… After reading a few pages on Google books, I was hooked, and I had to order it!

The book is very much targetted as new puppy buyers, and suits this audience very well. It has heaps of illustrations (400, the cover claims) that show every step of the way, for every little bit in the book!

I loved that this book went into puppy body language, as well, which I think is something often neglected in training books.  Dr Yin describes how to identify when a puppy is ‘playful’ versus ‘fearful’ and so forth.  To me, this is a really important part of puppy raising, and I’m glad it’s included.

Dr Yin is very into tethering puppies, which is a commonly suggested strategy by puppy trainers. What makes this book different is that it actually demonstrates what being tethered to a puppy could looks like through the use of photographs.

Maybe because I’m still recovering from all the socialisation emphasis of Dunbar, but this was something a little lacking from this book. There is a chapter dedicated to socialisation, and it is good. It has a very extensive checklist for puppy raisers, and answers the important question: “What to do if you notice signs of fear and anxiety in your puppy”. However, it’s tucked away right at the end of the book. I’d put this kind of stuff at the start.

Dr Yin talks about picking a breeder, and what a breeder should be doing first in terms of socialisation and habituation.  I really enjoyed this part of the book, and it even gave me some new ideas on what I could be doing with my puppies.

I would recommend this book to a new puppy owner.  This is who the book is made for, and it fulfils this purpose well. For those that are more dog savvy, I am not sure if you’ll find this book terribly beneficial – however, once you’ve read it, you can then recommend it to new puppy owners yourself.

Sadly, the book was some-what difficult to find online, but I did manage to get a copy from a private seller on Amazon. That being said, it is sold at a good price for such quality material.


Book Review: A Dog Year

I won this book in a low-key raffle.  It’s not normally the type of book that I would pick up, but it was an enjoyable story about the author, Jon Katz‘s, year with 4 dogs.

This is an engaging and, in general, light-hearted book.  Jon Katz is a talented writer, making the book pleasant and easy to read.

The story starts with Jon Katz’s two-labrador household, and explains the journey he takes to a two-border-collie household.  It is a very sweet tale on pet ownership.

However, I’d say this book is best suited to more ‘pet people’ than those that spend a lot of time thinking about dogs and dog welfare.  Katz does some very uninformed things with his dogs, and it really frustrated me when reading.  For example, his dog jumps out of the car window when driving.

The book is only short, and is pleasant enough to read. For those that have pet dogs, they would probably enjoy reading this book.  For those who are extensively involved in dogs, I am not sure that the anthropomorphism will contribute much to your current understanding.


“A Puppy Called Aero”

This is a brief interlude to my Paul McGreevy Seminars notes to happily announce my latest guest post, on A Mom’s View of ADHD… When I am neither a mum let alone a mum of an ADHD child!

However, I read Liam Creed’s book A Puppy Called Aero, mostly because it was a book about a dog, and realised how relevant it is for anyone with an interest or investment in ADHD children.  It is a lovely story of the human-animal bond, and also examines the importance of assistance dogs.

So please visit and read my book review: A Puppy Called Aero – How a Labrador saved a boy with ADHD.

More thoughts on the Paul McGreevy seminars to return soon!