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A Dog Year

This book is subtitled, "Rescuing Devon, the most troublesome dog in the world." By the time Border Collie Devon comes into Jon Katz's life, he was two years old and had serious behaviour problems. Devon had failed as an obedience dog, was unruly and disobedient. So why on earth did Jon Katz, who had two wonderful, well behaved Labradors already in his life take such an obviously difficult dog on?

Jon Katz was persuaded by Devon's breeder that he could provide the dog with the life he needed. True he had previously learned how to train dogs, and had a work from home lifestyle that would provide adequate opportunity to exercise and bond with the new dog. Jon Katz also felt the need to challenge himself; he had his own demons, which is perhaps what most equipped to help Devon get over his issues.

In an at time painfully honest account of the twelve months following Devon's arrival, Jon Katz explores the bond between him and his dogs, and indeed humans and dogs in general. He sets the scene of his harmonious, peaceful life with Labradors, Julius and Stanley, then narrates with great humour how that existence is shattered with Devon's admittance to it. But can such a dog be helped? Can Jon meet Devon's various needs and establish himself as pack leader? And just when things seem to be going well, what will life have in store for Jon and his dogs?

Border Collies are one of the most loved and misunderstood dog breeds in the world. They have ages old instincts, and complex needs. Clever and resourceful, they will find ways to entertain themselves if none is offered. Add to that mix an unfortunate start in life, and that is the dog that Jon Katz spends his dog year coming to terms with. The result is an intriguing, funny, sad, page turner of a book.

Review by Julie Hill

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