Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Book Review: The Secret Life of Dog Catchers (California, Animal Control Officer, Dogs, Horse, Druggies, . . . . )

The Secret Life of Dog Catchers: An Animal Control Officer’s Passion to Make a Difference, by Shirley Zindler (Shirley Zindler, 2012, 249 pages, $12.95)

Has it really been seven years since The Secret Life of Dog Catchers was published? We here at DogEvals kept waiting for our county library to order a copy but we finally gave up and purchased it for review.

I was ecstatic to find a large collection of short chapters in Dog Catchers, animal stories that I could read when I had just a few minutes (I had just finished reading a wonderful book for a writing competition and writing two reviews about it and was ready for some light reading).

And they were more than just short stories, they led to a conclusion. In many chapters we follow the personal pets of the author as they grow.

Light Reading? Was I Wrong!

I started with Dog Catchers late one Saturday night.

And stayed up til 2 am! (but it took another couple of days to finish it)

This is one author I want to meet!

Dog Catchers is a book you will carry with you until you finish it. Each story is funny and warm and human and perhaps a little bit tragic. I couldn’t wait to be back to reading it.

But Why Did Zindler Self-Publish?

I’m going to have to write author Shirley Zindler and suggest she contact an agent – this book is so good, I am sure a publishing house will pick it up.

What’s It All About?

Forty-five short chapters and a few not so short, each with an adorable animal photo to start, including the very adorable little pittie puppy on the front cover (Have you ever ripped off the cover of a paperback book and framed it? I have.). Animal stories with dogs mostly, but also cats and kittens, several about horses (including positive reinforcement training), pigs (smart little ones), bats, raccoons who wandered through open doors (!!) into houses, chickens (cock-fighting), llamas and goats who need hoof help, deer stuck in fences, skunks stuck inside houses. . . .

People and Animals - You Gotta Love 'Em

Zindler is also a very special human who knows so much about animals she will wow you. She lives with a pilot husband, an aunt who helps with the kids and house, two teens and a young niece, three dogs, two cats, three horses and numerous foster humans and animals (including new litters that have to be cared for around the clock) throughout the book.

Being an animal control officer* (also known as a dog catcher) is also or mostly about dealing with people – frightened people and dangerous gang members and animal abusers and even animal hoarders – all of whom need to be handled with kid gloves so Zindler can remove the animals if necessary for their health and welfare. And she does so with aplomb and caring and even humor.

New Definitions?

I loved the stories about miscommunication because we all know people like that: people who call in about a dog hit by a car lying on the side of the road (“Please come right away!”) who turns out to have a broken toe nail, people who call in about a vicious dog attack (the dog simply barked from a 20-foot distance) or even the time the bite marks on the victim were too small to be seen.

A Very Human Human

I would love to have Shirley for my friend. She is madly in love with her husband after 20 years, she is humanly sleepy when on-call for the night shift, she is lucky enough to be able to take her dog with her to work.

Who Should Read?

Yes, some of the stories may “yuck-you-out” but most will entertain you and inspire you, perhaps to volunteer at your local shelter if you don’t already do so!

Of course, animal lovers will love Dog Catcher, but so will dog people and horse people and people people: after all an ACO may run into druggies and gangs and livestock owners and non-animal people – she needs to know how to handle each one with the animal’s best interest in mind (according to the law which may be too flexible for an animal’s best future).

Why Does She Do What She Does?

She educates. She saves. She is passionate about making a difference. She does it for the animals. Read it for the animals.
*One chapter takes the reader through a typical yet very varied day as an ACO (Animal Control Officer)

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