June 8, 2010
"Oh My Dog"
"Oh My Dog"
by Beth Ostrosky Stern, with Kristina Grish, copyright 2010
Doggie Chef Rating
4 out of 5 bones
This very comprehensive book is best summarized by its subtitle, "How to Choose, Train, Groom, Nurture, Feed and Care for Your New Best Friend." It's an excellent resource for new dog owners and can be helpful to seasoned dog owners as well.
The author, Beth Ostrosky Stern, is a spokesperson for the North Shore Animal League America. She's compiled and carefully organized some of the best advice on dog care.
"Oh My Dog" is the perfect book for someone thinking about getting their first dog. The book's early chapters discuss the realities of owning a dog and how to choose a dog that's right for your emotional needs and lifestyle (super-important points most people overlook when dog-shopping). Later chapters provide information and advice on training and behavior, health, nutrition, grooming, bonding, emergencies, first aid and saying goodbye.
For more than eight years I've done a lot of research on canine care and nutrition. "Oh My Dog" includes some of the best sources I've encountered. And the book isn't just a rehash of everything I've already read about dog care. I actually learned a few things.
I like Stern's attitude toward canine care. Too many people believe dogs are just like wolves. These people think their pet dog requires dominance-based training to remind them their owner is pack leader. This is nonsense and not very nice for the dog. Stern discusses this under the heading, "Decoding and Debunking Dominance/Pack Talk." She advocates training using reward and motivation techniques to encourage love, trust and respect.
"Oh My Dog" contains lots of additional information in side-bars and boxes. These include lists of websites about dog health, traveling with dogs, and dog trivia explaining why dogs: whine at the door even when they don't want to go out, sleep all the time, stare intently into space as if they can see something we can't, etc...
The author isn't a full-fledged Doggie Chef but her chapter on nutrition encourages dog owners to set high standards for their dogs' diets. It includes sections titled, "Cooking for Your Dog," and, "Thumbs Up on Real Food." New Doggie Chefs will find these sections very helpful. Even long-time Doggie Chefs might learn something.
Stern isn't an expert on dog care and doesn't pretend to be so a lot of topics introduced in the book might not be addressed to a reader's full satisfaction. For definitive answers the author often ends up advising readers to check with their vets or a dog care expert. Yet she usually does this after providing some useful background information.
Through her work with the North Shore Animal League America, Stern encourages people to adopt shelter dogs. Surprisingly her dog, pictured on the book's cover (and mentioned throughout the book), is a purebred she bought from a breeder. It's not a big deal, as purebreds need good homes too. No matter what dog Stern owns, she obviously cares about all kinds and has provided other dog lovers with a very good resource book.