October 3, 2009

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Hitting the books

It's been a while since I've had a chance to do a book review.  Recuperation and vacation (why are they always sandy and wet?  Why?) have given me time to catch up.

I had the chance to read three of Lee Charles Kelley's dog-centric mysteries.  In his books, former New York homicide detective turned Maine dog trainer Jack Field just can't seem to keep himself away from murder.  His local police department eventually accepts that his experience and unconventional methods have merit, and Jack and medical examiner/girlfriend Jamie Cutter help to solve the crimes, often with the help of a dog or two.

In his spare time, Jack trains his dogs and discusses training philosophy.  His methods might be considered a bit unconventional:  he despises the "alpha dog" theory, and while that might not be so unconventional any more, his training method involves activating a dog's "prey drive" in order to focus energy and bond with the trainer.

He doesn't discuss training multiple dogs at a time--maybe it shouldn't be done.  But I can say from experience that whenever we activate "prey drive" in this household it's usually a disaster.  For some reason Lyle and I always end up as the prey (pretty sure that's not supposed to happen) and it's no fun when you've got a mouthy terrier in the house.  But I digress.

I also have to respectfully disagree with Jack's theory on spaying and neutering.  He thinks dogs should be left intact, that intact animals are more well-adjusted and easier to train.  He suggests vasectomies for male dogs for population control.  Honestly, I just don't think that will do it.  I'd invite Mr. Kelley to our local animal control where an entire roomful of kittens were euthanized because they couldn't control the spread of infection, and where a van full of healthy dogs was shipped off to the university for research purposes.  Whoops!  There I go again.

For entertainment value, and maybe some helpful training tips, pick up a Lee Charles Kelley novel.  If you're sensitive about dog training and philosophy, check out his website first.

Next time: a recommendation from the Dog Eared Book Club, a group right here on Dogster!  Play Dead, by David Rosenfelt.