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A Dog Year


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About the Author

Jon Katz has written eleven books, six novels and five works of nonfiction. A two-time finalist for the National Magazine Award, he has written for The New York Times, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, and Wired. He currently writes about technology, media, and culture for the Web site, and is a contributing editor to public radio's Marketplace and to Bark magazine. A member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, he lives in northern New Jersey with his wife, Paula Span, a reporter for The Washington Post, and their college-student daughter, Emma Span. Jon Katz can be e-mailed at or


The story line of Katz's latest book can be summed up very simply two dogs die and two new ones join the family but its charm comes from an intricate blend of witty anecdote and touching reflection. Katz (Geeks, Virtuous Reality) has shared his affection for years with two low-maintenance Labs, whose "chosen work was to reflect on the state of the world, lick neighborhood kids, and accompany [him] through midlife." So it is somewhat surprising that he next adopts a frenetic and demanding border collie he occasionally refers to as "Helldog." His life turned upside down; his writing schedule disrupted, he learns to center his life around a dog's needs rather than vice versa. After adopting the homeless Devon, Katz adopts his second border collie, Homer, because Oprah Winfrey urges him to. (He appears on her show for his book about his Labs, Running to the Mountain.) He's fallen in love with the breed's intelligence and curiosity. In fact, both breeds seem to touch something in his soul the Lab his centered, peaceful side; the border collie his troubled side. Over the course of the year, Katz reflects on the importance of devotion to and understanding of any animal taken into the home; ways to live peacefully with border collies; and even the problems of midlife crisis. "Once in a great while," he muses, "the right person is fortunate enough to get the right dog, to have time to take care of it, to connect with it in a profound way." (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"This gentle book is a great reminder--as if anybody needed one--of what animals can mean to people at particular times in life." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Moving, funny . . . This is a loveable mutt of a book." --Chicago Tribune "Part cautionary tale, part love story, A Dog Year reminds us that adopting a pet is a massive responsibility but one that rewards the owner with a richer, more meaningful life." --Los Angeles Times

After mentoring a troubled teen, as recounted in Geeks, journalist Katz describes another kind of mentoring process: his adoption of Devon, a broken-spirited two-year-old border collie. A breeder who had read Katz's account about his two yellow Labs (Running to the Mountains) suggested that the author take the dog. From Devon's frenzied entrance into Katz's life, escaping from the confines of his crate into a busy airport, to his exultant, trusting leap into Katz's arms one year later, this memoir is warm and heartfelt. Although it lacks the searing intensity of Elizabeth Rose's For the Love of a Dog (LJ 7/01), there are the moving anecdotes about Devon's stunning intelligence: "When [Devon] found a loose slat, he wiggled his nose furiously, pushing the wood to one side. He squeezed through the narrow opening and then here's the scary part turned around and pushed the slat back into position." Katz's style and vocabulary are flowing and accessible, and sure to appeal to canine fans. For all public libraries. Cleo Pappas, Lisle Lib. Dist., IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Adult/High School-Katz's smooth, flowing writing style and engaging manner of describing the personalities of his four dogs will captivate even reluctant readers. That he unobtrusively conveys lessons about dignity, discipline, and trust along the way is a bonus. In the opening pages, the family has two golden Labrador retrievers (Julius and Stanley) of tranquil and stately demeanor who have meshed perfectly into the rhythms of the author's daily writing routine and are beloved by neighbors in their suburban NJ locale. Then, he takes in Devon, a high-strung, two-year-old Border collie "with emotional issues." Surmounting the challenges presented by this beautiful and intelligent (but willful and anxious) animal, bonding with him and restoring equilibrium, fill many an entertaining chapter as the author cajoles Devon into accepting his new owner as the alpha male in the pack. Further adjustments are necessary as illness prematurely claims the lives of both Labs, and a Border collie puppy, Homer, is introduced into the household. In final chapters, wanting to satisfy the collies' native instincts as working dogs, Katz seeks out a training opportunity for them to experience herding sheep, and is rewarded by appreciation for their aptitude and high-energy intensity on the job. Throughout the story, adventures are touching, humorous, and winsome.-Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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