Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review: Suspect - He Got The DOG Right! (dog book, novel)

He Got the DOG Right! Yippy Skippy!

Suspect, by Robert Crais (Putnam, 312 pages, 2013, $28) 

Grading Suspect

I would have given this novel an A+ if only Robert Crais hadn’t mentioned the term, alpha, quite so often (‘alpha’ being outdated and now disproven). Instead, Suspect merits only an A. But what an A!

What did Crais get right?

The body language of a dog. The fact that you can’t reinforce fear. Why you should talk to your dog and often – your dog will not understand your words but will understand your tone. How a dog can see your heart in your eyes - and dogs are drawn to our hearts (from page 235).

And more.

The bottom of page 58 was music (paraphrased) to this reward-based trainer’s ears: The best dog training is based on the reward system. You should not punish your dog for doing wrong but reward your dog for doing right. When your dog does something you want, you reinforce the behavior with a reward – pet’m, tell’m he’s a good dog, let’m play with a toy. The standard reward for a K-9 working dog is a hard plastic ball with a hole drilled through it where you can smear a little peanut butter.

What’s it all about?

The long road back. Two injured beings – one, a wounded military working dog whose handler was killed in Afghanistan, and the other, a wounded policeman whose partner was killed on duty in Los Angeles – each being was present during the respective incident and sustained not only physical injuries but also emotional injuries. The question now is: Can these two beings heal each other?

The long road back - to what? Normalcy?

A fearful man, a fearful dog. A man who seeks retribution and forgiveness and must help a dog heal in order to do so. A who-dun-it with a smattering of romance, considerable escalating danger and can’t-put-it-down suspense. In other words, a darn good book.

For whom?

I recommend Suspect for dog trainers to recommend to clients with a fearful or reactive dog and for anyone interested in the canine-human bond or who wants to learn how to train a dog to associate unexpected sounds (e.g.) with a positive experience - like bologna! And, of course, anyone who likes a good suspenseful story.

Yes, I noticed some inconsistencies in the book (I’m a dog trainer and a veteran, after all) but, regardless, the reader will gloss over them as I did (it is a novel, after all) and nothing detracts significantly from the brilliance of the writing and of the plot and of the suspense and of the dog-ness. You have heard of poetic license, haven’t you?

Although 2013 is not even half over, I suspect Suspect will be in my Top Ten for 2013. Thanks, Chan, for recommending it.

Caveat: I must admit that I cannot yet read the prologue. I was deployed to Afghanistan where the prologue takes place. I’m sorry. I tried to read it – twice.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Wild - I'm Wild About Wild! (not a dog book, exactly)

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed (Alfred A. Knopf, 315 pages, 2012, $26)

I had seen this book with the one hiking boot on the cover and passed it by even though it was a best seller but suddenly I became curious when I saw the cover again – why ONE hiking boot? I found the answer in the prologue and realized I simply had to read the rest of the book.

If you are a hiker (female or male), if you live in Minnesota or Oregon or California, if you have ever dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), if you are a mother, if you have a mother or if you had a mother, if, . . .  if. . . . you simply must read Wild, the story of a 25-year-old woman trying to find her way in the world after her mother’s sudden death from cancer - four years previously.

Wild is a love story about Strayed and her mother as well as a tale about the anger she still harbored that her mother died so suddenly, so young. Strayed’s marriage is crumbling and she is also unable to keep her siblings together, as her mother once managed to do so graciously.

So, what does Strayed do? She decides to hike the PCT, alone, without ever even having gone on a day hike.

An amazingly hilarious read, yet I remain astonished that Strayed would undertake such a journey, 1100 miles, alone, and so ill-prepared (she admitted it with all the funny and tragic details).  She had never been backpacking before and packed so full-to-overflowing that she could barely lift her backpack much less walk with it.

Nevertheless, she took along James Joyce’s Dubliners and persevered through hiking boots that were too small and the consequent blisters and searing heat and blisters and snow and blisters and calluses and snakes and bears and strangers who became friends and never having enough money at the resupply stops. In other words, this is a true tale about a young woman growing up and I loved it.

Wild will be made into a movie and I can’t wait! (Reese Witherspoon)

Wild is an entertaining, sometimes hilarious, always uplifting read. So good, that I bought another of Strayed's titles!

The Best Darn CowDog in the Whole Wide West

EverythingDogBlog #39
EverythingDogBlog #39: The Best Darn CowDog in the Whole Wide West
By Skye Anderson, MS
“I see by your outfit that you are a cowdog,” I remarked to the lovely golden Golden Retriever in the rakish cowboy hat.
“Yup,” he woofed (evidently a dog of few words).
If Zuma isn’t the best darn cowdog in the Whole Wide West, at least he’s the cutest! (see photo)
Flying Alaska
When was the last time you walked out onto the tarmac to board a prop plane? For me, it was in Afghanistan. That is, before my Alaskan Airlines flights back west recently. Fortunately, in Seattle, it was a rare day - no rain! Alaska also took our carry-ons to stow for us!
However, on the way back to Maryland, I flew from Spokane to Seattle to Miami (where I had pizza for breakfast) to BWI (Baltimore Washington International Airport), a real red-eye, in lieu of encountering (bad) weather and delays in Chicago.
How does this relate to dogs? Read on, my friend.
Airport Dogs and Dog-Friendly Airports
East Coast dog culture differs from West Coast dog culture. (I’m a Westerner living temporarily [for the past 25 years] in the East and I am comforted each time I return home when I spot cowboy boots and cowboy hats in the airport in Las Vegas or anywhere in Montana or Arizona. I reflexively relax and smile inside at the visual welcome that I don’t realize I miss until I go ‘home again.’)
At BWI, every door has a sign prominently displayed stating that all pets must be caged.
So, imagine my surprise to fly into SEATAC (Seattle-Tacoma airport) and find a little white dog being held in his person’s arms on the tram between gates, then to see a Chihuahua on a leash in the airport (his person was carrying his soft-sided crate before boarding my flight). I almost told them dogs must be crated but it’s a good thing I didn’t because I would have been wrong. Again. For the second time in my life.
Had my layover been longer, my golden retriever friend in Seattle would have driven to the airport to give me a warm, fuzzy layover. Hopefully, next time. SEATAC is a dog-friendly airport as is much of the West where dogs have a real job.
For the first time I flew on the same plane as another beautiful Golden Retriever who was a service dog. I was proud of everyone waiting for the flight, for nobody approached the dog to pet him – he was, after all, in work mode.
All in all, my two recent cross-country trips were sad enough due to family illness and a death but they could have been worse, were it not for the dogs I met on the way and stayed with in Spokane! For a smile to lighten your travel day, just look for a dog! You will find one. Thank God for Dog!
Dog Books Read on My Transcontinental Flight
On my way west, I read much of Canine Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians by Dr. Bonnie Beaver and Veterinary Forensics: Animal Cruelty Investigations by Dr. Melinda Merck. Both may be a bit pricey (the current editions cost $75 and $100, respectively) but since both have been updated you should be able to get your hands on a first edition at a more reasonable cost.
Canine Behavior is a review of scientific literature on the subject (which I appreciate) whileVeterinary Forensics seemed a bit elementary to me since I have a course on Forensic Anthropology under my belt. However, I went back and forth reading between the two and planned to finish them on the flights back home which turned out to be red-eyes, so . . . . .
All in all it was dogworthy trip (or two)!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog

Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman, Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin’s Press, 288 pages, 2009, $22) 

The first collection of entertaining essays inspired by the witty weekly columns in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Chick Wit,” penned by that golden retriever-loving legal mystery writer from Philly, Lisa Scottoline, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog will have you in stitches, saying to yourself, “Yeah, life’s like that!”

Yes, life is like that, but in the words of Scottoline, life makes one laugh in spite of it all. She is one of the few authors skilled in two very different genres: mystery and humor.

Followed by My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman (2010); Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: the Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter (2011 with daughter Francesca Serretella); and Meet Me At Emotional Baggage Claim (2012 with Francesca), Why My Third Husband is fun and funny, engaging, charming, down-to-earth, and just like your life but with Scottoline’s Mother Mary, Father Frank, Daughter Francesca, Brother Frank who still lives with Mother Mary at age 51 and loves being gay in Florida, and Assistant Laura, but mostly this book is about Lisa’s life of ups and downs that she manages to turn into smiles along the way.

A grand book to read in bed, one chapter at a time, Why My Third Husband shares Scottoline’s goldens, corgis, chickens, cats, and Cavaliers; renovations to her house, visits with daughter and mother, and references to her first husband, Thing One, and second husband, Thing Two.

If I counted correctly, 89 delightful stories and amazing adventures (a handful with contributions by Daughter Francesca while at Harvard) that could happen to you, ordinary woman, if you too had suffered through five years of rejection notices on the way to becoming a best-selling author of 17 novels!

But Scottoline is no ordinary woman. She is a genuine and entertaining presenter on book tours and in interviews and generous to book clubs. Just like a book reviewer wants an author to be – real.

As the book jacket says, Lisa lives with too many pets (my kind of person!), some of whom are cranky that they didn’t make the cover of this book. My only question is: who is the dog on the front cover?

(Photo credit: April Narby)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

2800 Dogs at the Cherry Blossom Cluster This Weekend

EverythingDogBlog: 2800 Dogs at the Cherry Blossom Cluster This Weekend

By Skye Anderson, MS
The Cherry Blossom Cluster ( is this weekend at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium (I-83, just off the Beltway)
Thinking of getting a dog but don’t know what kind? What better place to see 175 different breeds and talk to dog owners (and handlers and breeders) than a dog show?
Want a new leash, dog bed, or some healthy dog treats? Come to the state fairgrounds this weekend.
What is a cluster?
A cluster is a group of dog shows and the Maryland State Fairgrounds hosts the large Cherry Blossom Cluster every April. The Saturday show is sponsored by Old Dominion Kennel Club, Sunday's is brought to us by the Baltimore County Kennel Club, and Monday's is put on by the Catoctin Kennel Club for a total of 2800 dogs and 175 different breeds (I didn’t even know there are that many different kinds of dogs!).
Friday will highlight Terriers, Tibetan Mastiffs, Golden Retrievers, Bearded Collies, English Springer Spaniels, Weimeraners, Dachshunds, Boxers, Chihuahuas, Dobermans, Irish Setters, Poodles, and Bouviers.
Driving directions can be found at but it is so easy to get to – just off Exit 17 on I-83.
See you there. I'm going shopping at the dog show - need a new leash!

EverythingDogBlog #37
How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

How many of us remember that catchy doggie song by Patti Page, first topping the Hit Parade Top Ten charts in 1952? (Perhaps you are also familiar with “Mockin’ Bird Hill” or “Tennessee Waltz” or other songs Patti sang for us.)
At that time, in the 50’s, pet stores were an acceptable source of puppies but - no more. Nowadays, most pet store puppies are the poor products of puppy mills, a farming industry: mother dogs are generally kept in small cages, bred twice a year, and never see grass, sky or a veterinarian.
Truly, pet store and Internet puppies are too expensive in many ways, including health and heartbreak, but thanks to Patti Page and her ‘new’ song, more people will hopefully realize that homeless (rescue and shelter) dogs and puppies are less expensive by far and in better health. And as Sandy Brokaw, credited with the idea for the revised song lyrics, said, "If you really want to live with a purebred dog, you don't have to go to a pet store."
For more information on puppy mills, see or or or the HBO documentary, Madonna of the Mills, at
To hear Patti sing the new words, go to, Old Song Carries New Tune: Patti Page sings new “Doggie in the Shelter” song for HSUS.
And here are the words to ‘How Much is that Puppy in the Shelter?’ (now: “Do You See That Doggie in the Shelter?”) (courtesy of HSUS [Humane Society of the United States] and Mixed Media Entertainment, Inc.):
"Do You See That Doggie in the Shelter?"
Chorus: Do you see that doggie in the shelter,
The one with the take-me-home eyes?
If you give him love and attention,
He will be your best friend for life.
In each town and city ‘cross the nation,
There's so many dogs with no home,
Hungry with no one to protect them,
Lost in this world all alone.
(repeat chorus)
Collies and beagles by the roadside,
Puppies and dogs in the street.
Once they are rescued by a shelter,
They'll finally have something to eat.
Doggies and kitties who are homeless,
With sad eyes and tails hanging down,
Let's do what we can to show them kindness,
And let them know they've been found.
(repeat chorus)
As we keep Patti in our hearts (she died on January 1, 2013), let’s also keep the new words in our hearts, as well. Even better, let’s turn them into good deeds and put the puppy mills out of business!
As the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) says, “Make (pet) adoption your first option!“
Adopt, Don’t Shop!

April EverythingDogBlog Activities for You and Your Best Friend

EverythingDogBlog #36 

By Skye Anderson, MS
Spring has Sprung and Zuma Wants to Help with the Planting!
Zuma The Golden is ready for a hard day of work (and play) in the first photo. In the second, he is hunting for the mouse he saw in the strawberry patch last year. Who needs a silly ol’ cat with Champion Mouser Zuma around!
National Items of Note
First of all, April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month AND National Pet First Aid Awareness Month as well as Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs Month (!
Take a class in Canine First Aid ( offered by the American Red Cross.
April 7 begins Animal Control Officer (ACO) Appreciation Week (, April 14 begins National Pet ID Week (double check that your dog is wearing his tags and is microchipped), April 21 begins Animal Cruelty/Human Violence Awareness Week (see the Humane Society of the United States webpage) and there are special pet days as well in April: 
April 11 is National Pet Day (focusing on rescues and shelters,, “Adopt, Don’t Shop”),
April 26 is National Kids and Pets Day ( and National Dog Day ( and
April 27 is both World Veterinary Day (this year highlighting vaccinations –  - “Vaccination to prevent and protect”) and Hairball Awareness Day (that’s for cat owners).
On a More Local Scene
In Maryland, the weather usually cooperates with dog walks and other canine celebrations in the spring primarily and also in the fall. Here are some events to start the season off with!
1.Simply the Greatest Labrador Retriever Show in the World - the 38th Potomac Specialty in Frederick, MD, April 9-12 at the Holiday Inn Conference Center at FSK Mall with hundreds of black labs, yellow labs, chocolate labs (not the edible kind - sorry) and a red fox lab or two. Conformation (think: Westminster dog show in February), Obedience, Puppy matches, Rally, junior events, judges’ educational seminars, health clinics, raffles, receptions, vendors with T-shirts and leashes and artwork (, and auctions. Everything to keep you busy for days.
2. Sunday, April 21, is the annual March for the Animals at Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, 10-2, (, a 1.5 mile walkathon for dogs and their people (stuffed dogs are welcome, too!). Play musical chairs, have your dog’s photograph taken, sample a dog agility course, get your dog microchipped! All to benefit the Maryland SPCA.
Support Canine Companions for Independence, an assistance dog training organization in California with puppy raisers in Maryland, at Sails and Tails in Annapolis. Enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting, a silent auction, dog demos, and chocolate for 75$. For more information, contact
3.Saturday, April 27, is Columbia’s annual Dog Day Afternoon at Hopewell Park, 11-2. Meet local dog businesses; donate slightly used dog leashes and other items to Thankful Paws (, a local food bank for pets; watch dog portraits in the making; participate in a canine kissing contest - and much more. Stop at the Columbia Community Exchange booth and ask me a dog training or behavior question!
Have a ball at the Annual GRREAT Bark-B-Que, 11-3, Quiet Waters Park (Off-Leash park with trails – beach is closed), Annapolis, MD. Rain or Shine to benefit GRREAT, a golden retriever rescue.
Bring your dog to Glen Elg Country School – for fun! The 3rd annual K-9 9K begins at 10 am and is followed by a BBQ, raffle and more family fun to raise funds for a life-saving canine and promote mine-detection dogs through the Marshall Legacy Institute (info@
Also, this weekend is the first ever World of Pets in Hampton, VA. This is the World of Pets like the one we have had at the Maryland State Fairgrounds for more than 10 years, every January. If you missed that one this year or just want to go again, check out the website,
3.The 15th annual Paws in the Park will take place on April 28, Sunday, noon – 4, in Gaithersburg, MD, and will include a ‘flealess’ market this year, held in conjunction with the Montgomery County Humane Society to raise funds for homeless and abandoned animals in Montgomery County.;84;99;577;
What more could a good dog ask for than to participate in fun April activities with YOU!