Audible A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My LifeAuthor Jon Katz –

Katz has taken a lot of flak for his story of Orson, a trouble dog ultimately put to sleep for attacking three people, but I found this the story of a man fiercely devoted to trying to change the behavior of a broken dog, to the point of buying a farm and spending hundreds of hours doing everything he could to discover how to fill the dog s life so that he would not feel the need to lash out unexpectedly This is written with great love, and having been in the position of having to make that difficult decision about how far to go to keep a dog alive, I could sympathize and applaud him for his actions throughout his relationship with Orson This is a good dog story but lay in the Kleenex before you get to the end As usual Jon Katz managed to annoy the hell out of me so why do I persist in reading his dog stories I guess I hope he ll eventually have some insight on his relationships with canines, and occasionally he makes steps in this direction recognizing that the acquisition of border collies was a springboard to a change in life for a man bored with his suburban existence Fair enough Katz Labs weren t providing that challenge so he obtained a known problem Devon, on the recommendation of a sheepherding trainer what was she thinking and cynically, despite Katz oblivious genuflections to all his mentors, I think the answer is money Devon is of course a demon, a hyperactive mischief maker and Katz becomes the worst possible master constantly citing how Devon renamed Orson on the advice of a mentor who says Devon has bad vibes for the dog from his previous life dashes from his yard to herd school buses and schoolchildren, challenges skateboarders, slips his leash, collar, whatever Katz Pay attention to the damn dog.But Katz is always in a reverie, falling down due to his bad leg which becomes a bad back that the 100 or so extra pounds he carries might have something to do with that never seems to occur to him So Orson inspires Katz to purchase an upstate New York farm, a flock of sheep for Orson to terrorize and assorted other critters Soon Katz acquires Rose, who proves to be an accomplished border collie, a worker not a pet and Orson is retired to the pet category which also is not a success Katz spends a small fortune on vets, alternative vets, dog whisperers and shamans to no avail, but it all contributes to fodder for the book he s writing Orson s behavior further deteriorates Having bitten three people, now Katz determines Orson is dangerous and his moral duty, after considering the options of retraining too much effort physical and mental testing too expensive confining Orson Here Katz really irritates me as he posits that to pen Orson in an actual enclosure that he could not escape would be like imprisonment do let s poll human death row inhabitants on which alternative they would prefer But Katz has made his moral decision Death is the only solution he says as he babbles on about the wonderful support the vet who actually sounds somewhat dubious is providing Then once Orson is safely dead he can become that good dog and Katz compounds this by having visions and spiritual visitations where Orson thanks him for bringing him peace Katz concludes that Destiny brought him Orson to gift him with his new way of life Katz is a master of self regard and self delusion while posing as genuinely self critical He rejects conventional training as not right for rebellious spirits like him and Orson Poor Orson whose fate illustrates the axiom the only good dog is a dead dog. I read the book based on the fact that the book reviews dealt with the morality of euthanizing dogs versus the merits of the storytelling I really enjoyed A Dog Year by the same author but did not enjoy this book It wasn t because of the very sad and conflicting ending, it was because Jon Katz s storytelling was self consumed and overly self indulgent This book was not about his dog it was about himself I really enjoy his other books, but think he missed the mark here. Moral of the story don t rescue a troubled dog if you can t do the work, don t take on than you can handle, and don t quit on your dog like Katz did to Orson Jerk. People Who Love Dogs Often Talk About A Lifetime Dog I D Heard The Phrase A Dozen Times Before I Came To Recognize Its Significance Lifetime Dogs Are Dogs We Love In Especially Powerful, Sometimes Inexplicable Ways Jon KatzIn This Gripping And Deeply Touching Book, Bestselling Author Jon Katz Tells The Story Of His Lifetime Dog, Orson A Beautiful Border Collie Intense, Smart, Crazy, And Unforgettable From The Moment Katz And Orson Meet, When The Dog Springs From His Traveling Crate At Newark Airport And Panics The Baggage Claim Area, Their Relationship Is Deep, Stormy, And Loving At Two Years Old, Katz S New Companion Is A Great Herder Of School Buses, A Scholar Of Refrigerators, But A Dud At Herding Sheep Everything Katz Attempts Obedience Training, Herding Instruction, A New Name, Acupuncture, Herb And Alternative Therapie Helps A Little But Not Enough, And Not For Long Like All Border Collies And Many Dogs Katz Writes, He Needed Work I Didn T Realize For Some Time I Was The Work Orson Would Find While Katz Is Trying To Help His Dog, Orson Is Helping Him, Shepherding Him Toward A New Life On A Two Hundred Year Old Hillside Farm In Upstate New York There, Aided By Good Neighbors And A Tolerant Wife, Hip Deep In Sheep, Chickens, Donkeys, And Dogs, The Man And His Canine Companion Explore Meadows, Woods, And Even Stars, Wade Through Snow, Bask By A Roaring Wood Stove, And Struggle To Keep Faith With Each Other There, With Deep Love, Each Embraces His Unfolding Destiny A Good Dog Is A Book To Savor Just As Orson Was The Author S Lifetime Dog, His Story Is A Lifetime Treasure Poignant, Timeless, And Powerful. After I finished this, I immediately called my friend Dori and told her to read this book Sometimes I think my love of animals is strange and then I read a book like Katz s and realize I am not the only one I cried so hard while reading this book and when my beloved kitty died in September, re read the ending again and cried all over again The tears were of pain but also a wonderful realization that something so small had touched your heart and life forever I also read Dog Days dispatches from Bedlam Farm and fell in love with his cow Thank you Jon Katz for your love of animals and for sharing with the rest of us My life, and many others, are better because of your words. When I read the reviews on , I was horrified Could the author I d come to appreciate as a source of insight into canine human interaction, and a fellow dog lover, really have given up on his beloved Orson I immediately ordered the book from my local library, and read it within 48 hrs.So, did Katz give up on Orson Absolutely not.A lot of people are claiming that he didn t do all that he could for Orson I feel as if their emotions made them overlook key details from the book To begin with, Katz exhausted all standard vet options bar one, which was the option of taking Orson to a specialist for a brain scan that would look for tumours This specialist would cost 6000 and would be the final of a long series of tests that had already been performed on the reactive Orson Expense aside, let us ponder for a moment what would have happened if Katz had gone to this specialist and found a tumour lodged in his beloved dog s brain That would have left two options the tumour would be inoperable, or it could be removed and Orson would require brain surgery I m not even sure the latter is possible with dogs due to the intricate musculature all around their skull and, even if it were, at what cost Not just financial, but for Orson What pain would he suffer What risks would he face What would his quality of life be like I work in greyhound adoption and have seen a number of dogs suffer through major surgery amputation , and it is never pretty They live with a great deal of pain following the surgery, and even though they face it stoically, can you imagine what brain surgery would be like for an animal that cannot understand what is happening Aside from exhausting standard vet tests barring this specialist , Katz also tried acupuncture and other holistic methods to no avail It s important to note, also, that Orson went from being reactive and giving warning before a nip, to biting unannounced, even biting people he knew and liked This is a serious concern Maybe he really did have a brain tumour, considering his blood work came back clean If that was the case, there was no choice here.I feel as if a lot of readers are mad at Katz because they do not understand what was being asked of him, and of Orson I love my dog so much, but I would never force him to have and painful, invasive tests to soothe my own ego, to deal with my own need for comfort I would never put him through dangerous surgery if his quality of life wasn t going to be good There are limits to what I will do for my dog because I love him too much to make him suffer on my account I also feel that, because Katz spoke frankly about the financial side of his choice, people are judging him harshly I am immersed in dog culture due to my role in dog adoption and my love for these wonderful animals, and I often hear people claim they would live in a cardboard box before giving up their dogs Fine, but does your dog want to live there with you Is that fair We treat the subject of money when it comes to our animals as something dirty, but we all have limits on what we can spend Katz bought a farm for Orson, he took him to shamans, animal communicators, acupuncturists, holistic vets, standard vets he trained him daily, loved him fiercely, and even then he couldn t discover what had made sweet Orson start to seriously bite people beneath the throat He dared to speak about the financial cost as part of his decision, and now he s being lambasted for it I know it s hard to talk about in a world where people claim they can t afford to adopt, or can t afford their dogs shots, food, standard medical needs and or bills choosing instead to abandon them, give them to a shelter, or even euthanise them I have been at the front desk when people turned over their dogs to the shelter I used to volunteer for I have heard every poor excuse in the book and, even still, I appreciate Katz honesty on this issue.I don t agree with all of Katz decisions In his previous book, where he gives away Clem, I seriously questioned his decision to buy her in the first place We certainly disagree on breeders and the buying of dogs, as well as a few of his opinions about us crazy dog folk But I have to agree with his decision to let Orson go I believe wholeheartedly that he did everything he could for that boy I know from my volunteer experience that there are some dogs who move beyond our help, no matter how hard we fight Letting them go is sometimes the kindest thing we can offer our final act of love.This book is moving, haunting, riveting I cried through the final chapters and went to hug my dog Please read it fully before judging Mr Katz His love for his dogs shines through in his every word This is not a man who gave up this a man who knew when to stop fighting for the good of his beloved pet This one was a doozy, having lost my lifetime dog less than a year ago I did make it most of the way through without crying Although the story of Orson was much different that the story of my Shadow, the lesson is the same The author brought me to a few realizations that I had a hard time putting into words on my own Dogs bring us closer to nature which gives us a deeper understanding of all life And he says you gave me so much and I gave you so little back isn t that the story of humans and dogs yes, yes it is we can never repay them for how much they teach us about life and love i loved this book and think I needed to read it Thank you Jon Katz I feel like maybe it is ok to go on and love another dog again someday. The Broken Parts of Me, The Broken Parts of Orson, We Healed, 15 Nov 2006 Two things fill the mind, with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and steadily we reflect on them the starry heaven above me and the moral law with in me Immanuel Kant Owning and loving a dog is a very individual experience Orson s story was complex, his behavioral problems probably stemming from multiple sources Jonathan Katz is a writer and a writer of prose where Orson is concerned This book is one of the best love stories I have read between a man and his dog It is so wonderfully amusing and heartbreaking that it is difficult to put into words what this book means to me This is the third book of Jonathan Katz I have read, and each time I leave the book with regret and tears With this book, the tears flowed freely and for a long time This story of love and regret and survival and finding your way and the future Orson came to Jonathon Katz as Devon He was part of a brood of dogs and he was different He needed a good home and his owner trusted Jonathan and thought this was a good fix It did not take Jonathan and Devon long to fall in love with each other A bond formed even though Devon would run out and try and herd anything in his way school buses, boys on skateboards and cars, and Jonahtan wouold have to retrieve Devon This was not the place for Devon, a New Jersey city Jonathan had a small cabin in upper state New York they went there while he looked for a farm And, a farm he did find He and Devon and Rose, the real sheep herding dog, moved to the farm Jonathan s wife and daughter would come up for visits but their home and work was in the city They found their niche and life was wonderful, well almost Devon s behavior was not changing for the better so a friend suggested his name be changed to seeif his behavior woudl improve Orson, was the name that was chosen and it worked Voila, for a while things were better, but the behavior continued and it was not good for anyone Jonathan must decide what is best He and Orson are such a team and love each other Again there is a bond This is their story Jonathan, the man and Orson, the dog Jonathan used to read this poem to Orson when they would go far into the woods and in the sky would see Sirius, the dog star Dream by Boris Levinson I, a child Try to reach the stars Sirius is no near I run to the nearest hill My reach is always too short Wait til I am a grown man NOW, I am old and bent with years No running to the hill and mountain top Yet a warm, steady, life giving glow Reaches me from Siriusthe unattainable I collect White iridescent and evanescent star beams For my trip home to Sirius the dog state A lifetime treasure to savor, along with the other animals on the farm the irritable rooster, Winston and his relationship with Orson, and the sheepherder dog, Rose, who makes it her life to herd those sheep The picture of Orson on the book cover is so beautiful it will draw you in ahhh you re hooked So Heartily Recommended prisrob 10 06 06 I enjoyed the parts of the book dealing with Jon Katz and his life, especially his life on his marvellous farm I did not enjoy so much the parts of the book covering the story of his beloved border collie Orson The poor dog just had too many problems I don t know if anyone could have solved them, and I don t know if the kindest thing to do was try and solve them But that is easy to say retrospectively You don t know that until you try, and Katz in his fairly offbeat way tried really hard view spoiler Towards the end of the book Katz had Orson put to sleep Various reviewers here have suggested there were many things he could have done that he didn t Perhaps so But dealing with a sporadically violent animal who on one occasion even bit someone he considered a friend , seems very difficult A lot of his behaviour like trying to chase buses , sounded very hard to deal with Perhaps if he d been double fenced in a garden it might have worked, but given Orson s love of accompanying Katz round the farm, and all border collies need for high levels of exercise, this might have been an extremely unkind solution hide spoiler A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life

About the Author: Jon Katz

Jon Katz is an author, photographer, and children s book writer He lives on Bedlam Farm with his wife, the artist Maria Wulf, his four dogs, Rose, Izzy, Lenore and Frieda, two donkeys, Lulu and Fanny, and two barn cats His next book, Rose In A Storm will be published by Random House on October 5 He is working on a collection of short stories and a book on animal grieving.

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