Sunday 5 October 2008

Book ~ "The Dogs of Bedlam Farm" (2005) Jon Katz

From Goodreads ~ When Jon Katz adopted a border collie named Orson, his whole world changed. Gone were the two yellow Labs he wrote about in A Dog Year, as was the mountaintop cabin they loved. Katz moved into an old farmhouse on forty-two acres of pasture and woods with a menagerie: a ram named Nesbitt, fifteen ewes, a lonely donkey named Carol, a baby donkey named Fanny, and three border collies.

Training Orson was a demanding project. But a perceptive dog trainer and friend told Katz: “If you want to have a better dog, you will just have to be a better goddamned human.” It was a lesson Katz took to heart. He now sees his dogs as a reflection of his willingness to improve, as well as a critical reminder of his shortcomings. Katz shows us that dogs are often what we make them: They may have their own traits and personalities, but in the end, they are mirrors of our own lives–living, breathing testaments to our strengths and frustrations, our families and our pasts.

The Dogs of Bedlam Farm recounts a harrowing winter Katz spent on a remote, windswept hillside in upstate New York with a few life-saving friends, ugly ghosts from the past, and more livestock than any novice should attempt to manage. Heartwarming, and full of drama, insight, and hard-won wisdom, it is the story of his several dogs forced Katz to confront his sense of humanity, and how he learned the places a dog could lead him and the ways a doge could change him.

I've read other of Katz' books about his dogs and have enjoyed them. He writes in an honest and straightforward manner.

I found this one a bit hard to get into at first because Katz seems colder and impersonal. In some parts, it's deep ... he talks about his estrangement from his family and reunion with his sister. Not what I was expecting from a lighthearted "dog" book.

I'm glad I stuck with it, though, because it was interesting and fun to read about his adventures with his sheep.

I've read the books out of order so know that Orson is put down in the next book (I won't be reading that one!). So it was odd to read about Katz and Orson's devotion to each other knowing Orson won't be around much longer.

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