Everybody pees

I saw more than one ridiculous commercial this morning about an app to help you reward your child for using the potty. One even depicted a fantastical “first flush party.” People do this? (Evidently they do.)

Reminded me of some criticism I’ve gotten for talking too much about peeing in my memoir. Fair criticism, I’ll admit. I’ve found places where I don’t need to mention that I also peed when I let Isis out to pee in the middle of the night. I deleted the scene* when I stop the car after driving exactly one block to make sure that my whining puppy wasn’t trying to tell me she had to pee.

Witness Isis, 8 weeks old, not peeing.

Witness Isis, 8 weeks old, not peeing.

Recently, a writer buddy commented that she is not interested in reading about dogs peeing, just as she is not interested in stories of human potty training, unless something really exceptional happens. While I can’t say that I’m dying to read about the trials and tribulations leading to a fantastical first flush fiesta, I would sort of expect a mommy memoir to touch on some of the associated issues of teaching a child to use the toilet.

Besides, owners of new puppies are sort of obsessed with when our pups are going to pee, aren’t we? You don’t want to miss an opportunity to encourage the peeing to happen in the designated area. Nor do you want to clean pee off the floor, or worse, carpet. You need to figure out what the signs are and watch for them, developing a prophetic pee sense.

I’m sorry, parents of newborns, but you have it easier than parents of new puppies in this arena (oh yeah, I said it), because newborn humans wear diapers, so it doesn’t really matter when they pee. They can pee any damn time they want, and you don’t even have to clean it up right away.

All that other human parenting stuff, yeah, I’m sure that’s all way harder.

* Deleted scene:

The snow stayed on the ground all weekend, and the temperature dropped so the roads were icy by Monday morning. The news people kept saying, “If you don’t have to leave the house, don’t.”

I crept along my street, testing my four-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes. Isis howled her favorite song, the one she sang during her first bath and whenever we crated her.

Where are you taking me?

“Silly, you’ve been in this car before. You’re fine.”

At the end of the block, I thought I better make sure her cries didn’t mean she had to go potty. I pulled into a cul-de-sac and got out of the car, my boots sliding on the icy sidewalk.

“Come on, baby.” I scooped her up and set her down on a crunchy patch of snow. “There’s grass under there. You can pee on it.”

Isis just sat there and looked at me.

“Okay, guess you don’t have to go.”

Never accuse me of being so in love with my deathless prose that I’m not willing to leave it on the cutting room floor.

Movies that make you believe in God

My people like our Christmases dark, especially when it comes to the movie portion of our celebration.

An all-time favorite Christmas Day screening was Quills, starring Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis de Sade. Two years ago, Black Swan was my favorite Christmas movie.

During the past week at my mom’s, I read Gone Girl (Marriage can be a real killer) and watched the entire last season of Dexter (America’s Favorite Serial Killer).

So I consider The Life of Pi to have been a rather mainstream choice of Christmas movie. After all, its premise is that Pi’s life story “will make you believe in God.”

Life-of-Pi-Richard-Parker

Warning: I am not about to spoil the ending of the movie as much as this interesting post, but if you haven’t read the book and want to remain spoiler-free, skip the next couple of grafs. I don’t think what I’m about to write will actually ruin the MOVIE for anyone, but I’m more sensitive to spoilers in books, it seems.

I didn’t like the ending of The Life of Pi when I read it. It felt like an “it was all a dream” cop out. Armed with this information when I saw the movie, I saw an early clue that Pi might not be a completely reliable narrator.

Our hero describes the day he got his classmates to start calling him by the nickname Pi. We see him writing the decimal out to a bazillion places on a chalkboard. I thought to myself, “No way he memorized ALL those places. He’s exaggerating.”

Which might lead one to believe that he exaggerated other parts of his tale.

Cut to the ending, when Pi asks his listener which version of a story he prefers: the whimsical and improbable one, or the more likely, sadder one.

Everyone likes the improbable one better, right?

Pi says, “And so it goes with God.”

Interesting. Both stories tell of overcoming incredible adversity, but the improbable one goes down better. Like all those stories in the Bible? Like, probably Noah didn’t really have an ark with two of every animal on it? Is that what Pi is saying?

In any case, Pi’s story didn’t make me believe in God. (It’s a really good movie though. Friends of mine worked on it. You should see it.) I said to my mother, “I don’t think there’s any story that can make a person believe in God. People who already believe in God already believe in him.”

The next day, we saw Les Miserables and as the credits rolled, I whispered, “That story kind of makes me believe in God.”

les-miserables-hugh-jackman-anne-hathaway-new

Warning: For some reason, I assume that anyone who wants to see Les Miserables already knows who lives and dies, so there be spoilers ahead. 

Consider the following lyrics:

“My soul belongs to God I know, I made that bargain long ago. He gave me hope when hope was gone. He gave me strength to journey on.”

I mean, wow. That’s powerful. So we know that Valjean believes in God, and without that belief, he never would have overcome his horrible adversity. For sure I believe in Valjean’s belief… but does that make me believe in God?

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

Again. Wow. GoodReads tells me that’s straight from the source material.

But really, here’s what does it. As miserables as their lives are, people’s prayers come true!

Fantine tells Valjean, “My daughter’s close to dying. If there’s a god above, he’d let me die instead.”

Guess what happens?

Then, Valjean sings of Marius, “If I die, let me die. Let him live. Bring him home.”

Guess what happens?

(It’s a really good movie. You should see it. I like Hugh Jackman as Valjean as much as I like him as Wolverine. Anne Hathaway is breathtaking in closeup singing I Dreamed a Dream in one take. Amanda Seyfried sings like a Disney princess.)

You know what else these movies have in common, besides God? Yep. Tigers.

The Chronology of The Chronology of Water

When I file this under Books Like Mine, I don’t really mean that my dog memoir would sit on the shelf next to this memoir about sexual abuse, promiscuity, and substance use. They’re both memoirs. I guess that’s all they have in common.

Mine is straightforwardly linear. We get a dog. We love the dog. Dog bites someone. We work with trainers. Dog dies. (As I said in one of my sessions at Hedgebrook, “Sorry, that’s a terrible elevator pitch.” I can do better, but this isn’t about me.) Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water is less chronological. Like water, as Bruce Lee might say.

water

Gratuitous picture of Isis frolicking … in water.

Hers is a stunningly beautiful book.

Yuknavitch’s writing style is nothing like mine. Her book reads like stream of consciousness. If the prologue hadn’t told me that she was in a writing group with Chuck Palahniuk and Cheryl Strayed, I might have guessed this book was printed as it came out of her head, with no revisions. Not to say that she needs an editor, but that her lyrical writing reads as effortless.

This is a self-aware memoir; she writes lines like, “But that’s not what I want to tell you about. I want to tell you about this instead.” She bounces around in chronology, but at no point do you get confused and wonder where you are. She mentions a second husband, and you don’t say, “Wait, who’s this second husband? Has she mentioned him before?” You know that she will give you all the information you need when you need it. I wonder how she decided how to order the chapters. When to tell us what.

Implicit in the narrative is the idea that having been sexually abused by her father as a young girl, Yuknavitch became a sexually aggressive young woman and experimented heavily with drugs. But she’s clear that hers is not a story of addiction. (Although I know from watching Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Sex Rehab that frequently promiscuity is a result of having been abused as a child.)

Yuknavitch doesn’t give a lot of specifics about the abuse, although she does depict her consensual sex acts in shocking, vivid detail. She doesn’t overly reflect on what it all means. She just tells the story for us to make of it what we will. I appreciate that.

Vampires should have fangs

Look, teen vampire romances and me, we go way back. Like all the way back to the original.

The Lost Boys.

(I’m totally, unapologetically Team Kiefer. Then and now.)

I know my horror genres. Hell, I took a class at USC toward my degree about Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy in film. (Best class ever.) I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and I attended lectures discussing the resurgence of the vampire genre to reflect society’s fears about AIDS.

Then there was Buffy. My favorite television show of all time. The best representation of a female superhero I’ve seen. A tortured romance between a human (with superpowers) and a vampire. A romance that could never last. None of this happily ever after because we’re both vampires so now we can live together forever bullshit.

Yeah, I’m talking about Twilight. After the first movie came out, I listened to the first book and a half on audio, and then gave up because they were so badly written, but I stuck with the movies. I just had to see how it ended.

I’ll come right and say it, I thought Breaking Dawn Part 2 was the best film in the series. Finally, Bella gets to do something other than sit around and watch boys fight over her. And you know what? She looked really hot as a vampire. I liked watching her rail against Jacob for imprinting on her daughter, and I liked the epic battle scene, which I’ve since learned is not in the book. Further evidence that the books suck.

Honestly, everything wrong with that movie is a problem created by the source material. Twilight has the worst vampire mythology ever. They don’t burn in sunlight, they have reflections, they don’t have fangs, they barely even struggle with cravings for human blood. Why call them vampires? Just make them some immortal mutant race, or something. Especially if you’re going to give them each distinct X-Men superpowers. This one can read minds. This one can see the future. This one inexplicably has electricity coming out of her hands.

About a year ago, I started watching The Vampire Diaries, and I’ll challenge anyone who calls it a “guilty pleasure.” It’s legitimately an awesome show. It kicks Twilight‘s ass because Elena has a personality. She thinks for herself. She doesn’t want to be a vampire, even though it would mean being with her hunky boyfriend 4-eva. Also, vampire heartthrobs Stefan and Damon actually struggle with what it means to be vampires. Plus they have fangs and cool veiny eyes when they feed.

My first ever vampire Halloween costume. My makeup was a nod to The Vampire Diaries, but now that I think about it, the red velvet hooded dress would be appropriate at a Volturi dinner party.

SPOILER: Elena became a vampire at the end of last season. I was pretty sure the first episode of the season was going to have her sitting around with the Salvatore brothers, doing a lot of talking about what this means, and how she feels and whether she should feed. But no, the episode quickly put all the characters into jeopardy with actual consequences. Fine storytelling, in my opinion.

The Vampire Diaries did find a way to cheat the whole vampire allergy to sun with magical “daylight rings,” which, whatever, I guess if you want to have vampires go to high school, they have to be able to go out during the day. But that just gives me that much more respect for Buffy, which managed to keep vampires reflection-free and in the dark.

So. Final thoughts on Twilight, and let us never speak of it again: I really wanted to see Bella eat that rock climber. Then I was sort of hoping she’d bite her baby.

 

Self-imposed required reading

I’ve signed up for the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat in March, and have added a bunch of books to my to-read list in anticipation. Cheryl Strayed is the keynote speaker, and I’ve had her memoir, Wild, on my Nook since before my trip to Russia. (I keep wanting to call it “Strayed.”) I haven’t started reading it, because I thought it was more appropriate to read books about Russia while I was in Russia. So I read Moscow Mule and I started Ken Follett’s Winter of the World, which is about World War II.

Kremlin wall art

I’m still reading Winter of the World. In my defense, it’s 700-plus pages (on the Nook, apparently it’s 960 pages in hardcover.) But the truth is, if I were enjoying it more, I’d have finished it by now. Every time I curl up with my Nook, I ask myself why I’m bothering to finish this book. Why not move on to another book already loaded into my device?

Winter of the World is the second part of a trilogy. After I read part one, Fall of Giants, I wrote:

I was never much of a history student. If my textbooks had as much sex in them as Follett injects into his characters in Europe during World War I, I might have felt differently.

He puts the war and its lead-up in perspective, from the points of view of Brits, Germans, Americans and Russians. Perhaps the latter half gets more bogged down in the technicalities of the war, and that’s why I lost momentum, but it’s still a very exciting book with an intriguing cast of characters.

I’m looking forward to part 2, to see what happens to these characters during the second world war.

And that’s the only reason I’m toughing it out. Because I do want to know what happens to the characters, even as Follett’s writing style has begun to get on my nerves. I’d have to take another look at Fall of Giants, or even The Pillars of the Earth to be sure, but I suspect that this book suffered because he was in a rush to get it out a year after the first part.

There are no graceful turns of phrase, and most of the war stuff is pretty pedantic. Maybe I’m just too familiar with the politics of WWII. Nazis vs. Communists. The atrocities committed on both sides. I know exactly what’s going to happen when disabled children are sent to a hospital in Bavaria for “special treatment.” Or when an American soldier gets stationed in Oahu.

Excellent writing and fascinating characters should be able to transcend that, but I don’t think this book has either. Some critics of Pillars of the Earth accused Follett of poorly developed female characters. So to speak, because all the women were described by the size of their bosoms. That didn’t bother me in Pillars, but I’m keenly aware and annoyed by it now.

Star-crossed lovers are separated and come back together with very little drama and uninspired sex. “I’ve always loved you.” “I love you too!” “Now take off your pants!”

And yet, I carry on. Should I bother? Am I going to feel obligated to read part three about the Cold War?

What do you think, readers? What are some of the books you struggled to finish? Which have you abandoned, and how do you know when it’s time to give up?

If Madonna isn’t too old for this sh*t, how come I am?

The past few years, every time I go to a big concert (which is like, once a year), I think to myself, “Maybe I don’t need to be spending hundreds of dollars to sit really far back in a stadium and watch a performance on a video screen.” I had thought it would be awesome to see Lady Gaga live, but really, we were too far away to feel like we were really seeing her live.

Plus, there’s so much sitting and waiting in uncomfortable bleacher seats. I would love to be able to show up an hour after the scheduled start time and miss the opening act, but there’s always that fear, “What if this is the one concert where the main act hits the stage within an hour of the start time?”

After Lady Gaga, I didn’t have a burning desire to see any concerts until Madonna performed at the Super Bowl last year, and tickets to her show went on sale very soon thereafter.

I’d never seen Madonna live. I still regret never seeing Michael Jackson on tour. What if this is my last chance to see Madonna?

So we got tickets, and months later planned a trip to Italy and Russia leaving the day after the Madonna show in Vancouver. Not the best timing, but these things happen.

Once again, I found myself sitting in very nearly the back row of the arena, waiting for hours for the show to start. HOURS. Madonna herself didn’t hit the stage until 10:30. Perhaps if I ever go to another concert, I should bring my Nook Tablet with me. I would have enjoyed myself more if I’d been able to read during opening act, DJ Martin Solveig.

With these crotchety thoughts running through my head, I started to feel really old. Although, really, the chicks sitting behind us probably weren’t much younger than me. They were drunk and loud, all decked out in their Madonna best, and honestly, they didn’t seem to be having any more fun than me as we waited.

Finally, the show began, and within a few songs, I was horrified. I mean, I’d heard the song “Gang Bang” from her new album, and thought it was pretty tasteless, but I was not prepared to watch her prance around a motel set wielding a shotgun, singing, “Bang Bang, I shot my lover in the head” while projections of blood splattered on the massive screen behind her.

AP photo

The article I link to above describes Madonna using a “fake gun to shoot a masked gunman and images of blood splattering on a large screen behind the stage.” Masked gunman? Uh, no, the lyrics are about shooting her lover in the head. Without doing too careful an analysis of the lyrics, that sounds premeditated to me. Maybe if I understood the story a little better, I’d see the entertainment value? Or is it social commentary?

While all this is going on in front of me, I’m full of self-doubt because I find it so offensive. What’s happened to me? I’ve always loved violence in my entertainment. Wild at Heart was my favorite movie the year I was 14. I loved everything about Inglourious Basterds, including the gratuitously balletic, blood-spattering shooting death of woman. I find everything about Natural Born Killers entertaining.

And yet, I thought The Dark Knight Rises was too dark… Madonna’s gun-slinging dance routine creeped me out.

Am I going soft in my pre-middle age?

The MDNA Tour took a turn for the better after that brutal “Gang Bang” number. I calmed down once she changed into her cheerleader outfit. Overall her dancing was incredible, and she sounded pretty damn good too. I wished she had done more of her “classic” numbers, because I enjoyed those more than the techo-dance tracks of recent years, but again, that’s probably because I’m getting too old for this shit.

I chose our lodging because of the Vampire Diaries

image

The Petrovka Loft is in quite an upscale Moscow neighborhood, which turns out not to be the good thing it would seem. The entrance is near a porn store in an alley, which is dark and sketchy at night, and there’s no place nearby to buy a candy bar and a bottle of water before bed. Just an espresso machine store (selling the machine, not the product) and Chanel.

I didn’t realize upon booking, but the Loft is just a B, not a B&B. The shared bathroom situation isn’t terrible. There’s more than one toilet, separate from the multiple showers. The water is hotter and stronger than at our last place, but other than that, I’d say SwissStar beats Petrovka Loft.

I accidentally typed “Lift” there at first. Freudian, because there is no lift! And it’s on the fourth floor. Have you seen my bag? (See earlier post.) It’s going to be fun thump-thumping that thing down the steps at 3am Monday.

Actually, it will be carthartic because there’s been a lot of pounding and hammering going on around here. So no, I don’t think I’d recommend Petrovka Loft. (Petrova, by the way is the family name of a line of doppelgangers central to The Vampire Diaries. That’s why I picked it.)

My take on the Dog Whisperer vs. Food Aggressive Dog

I’m not a dog behaviorist. I’m not even a very good trainer of my own dogs, but I’ve read a lot about different methods and over the past six years, I’ve learned a lot about dog behavior and body language.

Early on in my education, I watched The Dog Whisperer and tried to follow his technique to get Isis to stop barking at bicycles and joggers and other dogs on leash. It didn’t work. She got worse. What finally did work was clicker training and positive reinforcement. That’s when I learned that there are lots of dog trainers who think Cesar Millan is the worst thing to happen to dog training since shock collars.

Victoria Stilwell is where it’s at. Not only does she use dog-friendly techniques, she wears tight black pants and has pretty hair.

Last week, a video circulated decrying Cesar’s methods when working with a food aggressive dog who wound up biting him on the hand. The first version I watched featured slow-motion and captions describing the dog’s behavior.

Then I read this blog post and the comments. One dissenter blamed the owners for nurturing food aggression and creating a monster. He/she wrote:

Watch the ENTIRE episode to find out what happens to Holly. I don’t know of many trainers, including Victoria Stilwell (whom I respect and appreciate very much as a trainer), that would make this offer to save a dog’s life. Holly is now a balanced dog and will most likely be placed with dog savvy people who can keep her that way.

Actually, I know quite a few trainers who would try to save this dog’s life rather than have her euthanized.

And I just so happened to catch the whole episode over the weekend, because “find out what happens to Holly” was just too enticing. Turns out, Holly got left at Cesar’s rehab center. I didn’t hear anything about her being placed in a better home. It looked to me like Holly might live out the rest of her life at Cesar’s. (I also didn’t see anything that showed that the owners “nurtured” food aggressive behavior. They consulted other trainers before Cesar.)

Earlier in the week, I read this blog about the hazards of rehoming an aggressive dog, and I recognize that Holly’s family simply could not keep her. They had a small child, and not everyone has a lifestyle like mine, where it is possible to keep my dogs from ever interacting with small children.

So I completely understand the decision that Holly’s family made, and think moving out to Cesar’s center is probably preferable to being killed, but I disagree that those were the only two options.

A positive reinforcement trainer could have trained Holly to be less food aggressive without putting her through so much stress that she bit someone in the process. Cesar’s method involved leering over the dog while she ate, advancing ever closer. Of course she bit him! She already was visibly anxious, and he deliberately escalated the situation.

I know I’m guilty of personifying dogs, but I felt sad for Holly at the end of the episode, watching her family leave her behind at Cesar’s. I hope she’s happy living with a pack of her own kind, but I couldn’t help thinking that his rehab center resembled a cruel Oliver Twist-style orphanage.

Another aggressive dog memoir

When pitching a memoir, authors are advised to name competitive titles. Easy enough to do with a dog memoir; there are so many. I thought Smiley Bird was unique because it’s a love letter to an aggressive dog.

Until recently, the most similar memoir I had read was Part Wild: One Woman’s Journey with a Creature Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs, but that was about a wolf-dog, so not entirely the same situation.

In my last post, I spoiled the ending of A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life.

Like Isis, Orson had behavior problems that author Jon Katz spent years trying to rehabilitate. Fairly early on in this memoir, he writes:

Sometimes — when is a fine and debatable point — you just have to accept and love the dog you have, even if he’s not necessarily the dog you want him to be.

Essentially, that’s the takeaway from my memoir. We should have accepted that Isis was not a dog you could take anywhere. If I had known we’d only have her for four and a half years, I would have spent more time snuggling and less time trying to desensitize her to bicycles.

But of course, I didn’t know that, and I relate to Katz’s desperation:

I was nearly weeping with frustration, torn by my growing love for this dog and my growing realization that communicating with, understanding, training, and controlling him was, so far, beyond me, and was leading both of us toward trouble.

Fortunately, in my story, I finally do get help communicating with and understanding Isis. But not before (spoiler alert) she bites someone. Had I missed the warning signs? Like Katz, I struggled to interpret her earliest transgressions:

There is a big difference between nipping and biting, but it’s a distinction that’s often (understandably) meaningless to the recipient.

Yes! As the owner/trainer, we try so hard to understand why our precious pets would do such a thing. They aren’t vicious dogs; they’re loving and sweet, to us anyway. If I could just understand why she did these things, I could make sure she doesn’t do them again.

I’ve said before if there’s one thing to be grateful about regarding Isis’s untimely death, it’s that Rob and I didn’t have to make any difficult decisions. I know Katz didn’t take his decision to euthanize Orson lightly, and it’s a shame there’s been some internet blowback from people who think he didn’t try hard enough to find another solution. I myself thought, “He lived on a farm, surely he could have found a way to keep Orson.” But in reading the book, I understand Katz’s choice.

Interestingly, The Story of Orson doesn’t end there. We’re introduced to a Labrador named Pearl who helps Katz move on, much like Mia did for us.

My other dogs could not replace Orson, nor fill the void he left, yet in a curious way his departure had given me the life with dogs I’d always dreamed of. Be careful what you wish for.

I know exactly what he means. Mia is a completely reliable dog I can take anywhere, and now I have two dogs who are besties, like I always wanted. I just thought one of them would be Isis.

Mia and Leo, best friends forever.

A prolific writer of dog books

I have a fantasy that after my memoir about Isis is published and hugely successful — or even just a modest success — that I will write Rescuing Mia. Maybe Leo will get his own book. I will write memoirs about every dog I ever have for the rest of my life. I also will publish fiction, starting with the novel I started in 2009 about mixed martial arts, which somehow has evolved to be as much about rescued fighting pit bulls as it is about MMA.

Turns out, another journalist turned author has made a career of writing about dogs. Jon Katz‘s breeds of choice appear to be border collies and Labradors. He has drawn the ire of some breeders/owners/experts for various opinions espoused in his books, but I don’t want to get too deep into that controversy. I just want to talk about two of his books in relation to my own experiences.

I was drawn to Going Home: Finding Peace when Pets Die for obvious reasons. Like Pack of Two, the books shares a variety of stories from a variety of animal lovers, this time about the experience of losing a pet. I had a similar response to both books: These are all very interesting, insightful and relatable stories, but after immersing myself in dog stories for several years now, I’ve heard most of this stuff before.

Going Home has another role, though. It reminds us that we are not alone. More than a year after Isis’s death, I found myself soothed by Katz’s words, even when I didn’t completely agree with him.

One of the criticisms of Katz is that he purports to be an animal expert. One claim from Going Home that I don’t necessarily agree with is:

Philosophers note that humans and animals differ in lots of ways. One of the most elemental differences is that we can make moral choices. We have consciences. We can discern right and wrong. We know we will die. We are afraid of pain and loss.

Animals do none of these things.

They are instinctive creatures who live in the moment. They experience emotions and pain but are not aware of them as concepts to think about and ponder. They die but don’t know they will die.

How does he know?

Guilt is ours alone. It is one of the many things that plagues the complicated human psyche but does not infect the life of an animal. Dogs do not feel guilty for eating the last piece of food or for hogging the bed. They do not reproach themselves for making mistakes. They do not blame themselves when we suffer, struggle, or die.

Again, how would anyone know? Katz himself turns to a pet psychic to communicate with his dogs. Doesn’t that imply that he believes animals have a more complex thought process?

As much as I humanize my dogs, I don’t believe in animal communicators. Or, I should say, I have not been convinced pet psychics are real. I don’t believe dogs think in complete English-language sentences, so when a communicator told me that Isis was thinking, “I feel like I can’t breathe. I feel like there’s a weight on my chest,” that she actually had those thoughts. Then again, she died of a heart aneurysm a few months later, so maybe there was something to that.

I’m going to hear an animal communicator speak tonight, though, so maybe I’ll come around.

The most compelling part of Going Home was Katz’ description of Orson, his “lifetime dog.” The book opens with Orson’s burial. References are made to Orson’s aggression, and Katz doing all he could for him. From that point, I didn’t want to read short anecdotes from other people, I wanted to read Orson’s complete life story. And lucky for me, Katz also has written a book (a couple of books, actually) about Orson.

I will discuss A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed my Life in an upcoming blog, but I will spoil the ending here, because Katz reveals it in Going Home. Katz had Orson euthanized after the dog bit three people.

I was astonished when I read that, because we never in a million years would have put Isis down. We would have arranged her life and ours so that she was safe and to keep her from being a threat to anyone else. But I didn’t know Orson’s whole story, and I knew I had to read it. Not just because I wanted to know exactly what led up to Katz’s decision, but also because A Good Dog sounded like my memoir about Isis.

The story of “lifetime dog” with behavior problems whose lifetime ended too soon.