Book Review: The Dog Owner’s Manual

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I have shared before that I have two main, strong, stress response behaviors: shopping and reading. This is how I cope. Turns out, when I have real, deep grief with shock, I don’t do either. I also don’t eat, which is something that has never failed me in my entire life. It’s been a week since I cracked a book, but I am going to get back on the horse by reviewing the few books I had finished a couple weeks ago including The Dog Owner’s Manual by Dr. David Brunner and Sam Stall. It is painful: the reason I can’t read, eat, shop, or sleep is that my Barney-pup died suddenly in a tragic accident last week. Still, I know there are lots of great dogs out there and people who love them, so here we go.

The Dog Owner’s Manual came highly recommended on the internet, which is why I settled on it. Surprisingly, there were not that many books that fit what I was looking for: a type of manual for getting and having a dog. Not a book about feeding them and making food (though I was in the market to buy one of those eventually). Not a book about breeds. Or specifically about training. I wanted a quick graze over the whole gamut of pet ownership, with some emergency advice, etc. For what I wanted, this is exactly the book.

It’s small enough to stick in your dog bag (or what we called the Barney Bag). It’s pleasant to peruse, and things are organized so that you can just look things up. Full of cute, stylistic, duochrome illustrations, I can’t think of anything it doesn’t touch on, though it obviously doesn’t go very in depth in specifics. The one complaint: the style. What begins as a clever and snicker-funny ploy ends up making you want to leave this little gem on the coffee table while you purchase something similar that doesn’t employ gimmick. (Not sure this exists. Sorry.) What am I talking about? Well, take a look at the title: The Dog Owner’s Manual. Subtitle: Operating Instructions, Troubleshooting Tips, and Advice on Lifetime Maintenance. This book is part of a limited series that uses the language of electronics ownership to inform about owning things more organic. While you might assume this cutesy wordplay ends at chapter headings or even just the title, let me assure you that it never stops. Down to the last chapter, “Obsolenscence and Deactivation,” the Appendixes, “Troubleshooting” and “Technical Support,” and, indeed, the last phrase, “the warranty for which can never expire.” Not only do I imagine that some people would have a difficult time interpreting everything in this book, especially rapidly, even more with-it readers are going to tire of the analogy. Like on page five.

All in all, I would recommend this book, though I wish it existed in a more straight-forward format, one that didn’t pretend indefinitely that my dog is a computer that I just purchased. Har har. Otherwise, a great book to have on hand for all those dog questions, especially if you don’t want to constantly be googling.

Of note: the book gave the correct advice for our situation. It does not list toxic foods, however. We had a list on the fridge, which you can print out from the internet or buy as a fancy magnet.

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