I can't remember the last time I sat down for a day with a book. I had plans for a hike in the high country with Strummer on Saturday but it soon became obvious that the race had taken more of a toll than I'd realized and I couldn't bear the thought of more driving. Combine that with predictions of temps in the upper 90's in town and I decided to head to the library for some good summer reading prospects. I was hoping for something other than a dog book but somehow the 'Dogged Pursuit' book by Robert Rodi ended up in my pile. I don't know how because ever since Jon Katz I've become gun shy of books about people adopting a 'crazy rescue dog' and turning it around. Aside from being a bad cliche there's also that icky feeling of exploitation. Did the person adopt a troubled, fearful dog just so they'd have some good writing material? I'm also annoyed by people who undertake year long 'experiments' in things and then write about them. Don't even get me going about 'No Impact Man'. I think it took me a full week to get over the irritation brought on by that that film. The full title of the book is 'Dogged Pursuit: My Year of Competing Dusty, the World's Least Likely Agility Dog', so that should have been a huge red flag right there that maybe I'm going to be wishing 'please can I have my day back' after spending it on this book.
I'll admit there are some funny bits and the guy is a decent writer. On the cover there's a quote from Augusten Burroughs, author of 'Running with Scissors', that this book is 'Hilarious and heartwarming...' I didn't like the movie 'Running with Scissors' and now I'm pretty sure that I won't like the book either if Mr. Burroughs is so utterly oblivious to the world that he finds anything the least bit 'heartwarming' about this unfortunate tale of woe. The dog starts out the book fearful and hating agility, especially the competitions. The dog ends the book the same way. Robert adopts the dog with the notion that he's going to take this no-hope rescue dog and turn it into an agility champion. He has a disturbing and almost childish obsession with Q's and titles and winning and 'glory' as he puts it. He notices that the dog is miserable but he doesn't care, he decides the dog will have to learn to 'man up' and go for the glory. Unfortunately he doesn't do a lick of behavioral work with this poor traumatized animal, he just keeps flooding it weekend after weekend by taking it to trials, abandoning it shaking and drooling in a crate in an overcrowded venue, then dragging it out a couple times a day so it can wander around the agility ring. The man is so self-absorbed and set on his own personal goals that, knowing that the dog is scared of the teeter and likely to refuse it, he calls out 'dogwalk' during a run so the dog won't know it's the teeter and maybe he'll have a hope of finally Q'ing. Yeah, it ends about as well as you'd think it would with the dog sailing off the end. What sort of person does that to their dog? By the end of the book the dog does manage to eek out a Novice Jumpers title in AKC but never gets a single Open Jumpers leg or Novice Standard leg (he doesn't compete in any venue other than AKC). This is because he never manages to get out of a trot and often ends up wandering around because he's so scared and shut down and the best Robert can do for this poor dog is to take him to an Animal Communicator. He flat out admits he's looking for a quick fix, he doesn't understand why everything with this dog has to involve 'work'. Plus it gives him something funny and wacky to write about. Seriously, this is 'heartwarming'? Can I pretty please have my day back?
The only good news here is that Robert has moved on to another book writing project that's taking up all his time so he doesn't take Dusty to trials anymore. I suppose maybe sometimes there is a good side to those 1 year 'experiment' writing projects.
My massage therapist brought me her copy of 'Merle's Door' today to lend to me but I think I'll have to wait for the 'ick' of this last book to wear off before I'm ready to attempt another dog book written by a guy who may or may not actually care about the dog.