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"Jon Katz is a true dog lover."

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Directly linked off of MSN.com

 

To an average person/family looking to get a pet, for the most part this information could actually be useful.

 

Secrets every dog lover should know

05/11/2007 5:56:37 PM

 

Do you have a dog, or do you want one? Read this interview with dog lover and author Jon Katz.

 

Jon Katz is a true dog lover. In fact, a number of years ago, after acquiring a border collie in need of much love, attention and training, Katz took up sheepherding and ended up buying a farm – and his own flock of sheep – to provide a better life for his dogs and, in turn, himself.

 

Katz is lucky enough to have a profession that accommodates devoting your life to your dogs – his 2007 release, Dog Days, is part of a series of tales about the animals of Bedlam Farm. We spoke with Katz about his thoughts on training dogs, loving dogs and being a responsible dog owner. Here are eight things every dog lover should know.

 

1. Dogs love routine

"Dogs are creatures of habit," says Katz. "They tend to like what is familiar." Conversely, what is unfamiliar can upset them – keep this in mind when trying to analyze your dog's behaviour and train him. "Dogs are very adaptable," Katz notes. "Most dogs will settle in to a routine and really like it, if they're getting consistent training."

 

2. A dog is not an impulse purchase

"Acquiring a dog should be a thoughtful and careful process," says Katz, who is strongly opposed to purchasing a dog on a whim. He lists a number of questions you should ask yourself before getting a dog:

 

• Do you have time?

• Are you committed?

• Do you have the resources?

• How do people in your family feel about it?

• Are you going to have problems with the neighbours?

• And, most important – if the dog wants to go out at three o'clock in the morning in the middle of winter, how are you going to feel about that?

 

3. There's a dog for every family

"If they're well fed, exercised and treated well, dogs can be happy anywhere," says Katz. That being said, he emphasizes choosing the right dog for your family and living situation. For instance, if you have young children, find a dog that will coexist happily with them; if you have limited time to go for walks, don't choose a breed that needs several hours' exercise a day – unless you have a country-size yard.

 

Katz recommends three potential ways to get a dog, from people who'll be able to help you find the right one: first, through an experienced rescue group; second, by going to a shelter and having a thorough discussion about the kind of life you can give the dog; and third, by visiting a good breeder, and learning about the dog's history. "In all of those cases, people should ask you a lot of questions," Katz says. "I know some people find that obnoxious, being grilled by a rescue worker, but it means they care about the dog, and they care about you."

 

4. Never buy a dog for a child

"It's almost always a disaster when people get dogs for their kids," Katz says. This doesn't mean that it's bad for kids to have dogs in the family, but the dogs should be the responsibility of the parents, not the children, especially with young kids. "Parents should have no illusions," says Katz. "Shelters are littered with dogs that people got for their kids and didn't really want." Bottom line – only get a dog for your family if you want the dog and will be happy taking care of it.

 

5. Training is essential – for every dog

"Dogs desperately need training," says Katz. "Training is the language with which we communicate with our dogs, the way in which we show them how to live in a world that is not necessarily hospitable to them." This applies no matter how large or small the dog – or how old it was when you got it. And don't think of training as something that will happen in a day. "You never stop training a dog," Katz says. "You can certainly teach a dog some basic and important things quickly, like coming or sitting or staying, but training a dog is a spiritual experience that goes on forever."

 

6. Dogs aren't people

Katz says this is the most important thing to keep in mind when considering your dog's personality – she's not a person, and she doesn't really have a personality. "They're wonderful animals, and I love them," he says, "but they're not people." So when you're trying to figure out your dog's behaviour, remember not to anthropomorphize her. "They don't have complex human emotions," says Katz, "they can't tell time, they don't know if you've been gone for three hours or six hours, they are not chewing the carpet up because you have a new boyfriend or girlfriend. They're just relatively simple animals."

 

7. Dogs need your respect, and your love

Katz notes that more and more, people are seeing dogs as an integral part of their lives. "It's a beautiful thing. I think humans are redefining their relationship with this other species; they're really saying to the species, we love you, and we want you to come into our lives, and we see you as being a version of us." And this is a good thing, for the most part – after all, they're getting a great deal: food, shelter and attention. But the key, says Katz? Again, remember that dogs aren't people and don't think like we do. "Don't transform them into versions of us, which I think is very arrogant," he says. "Respect them for the wonderful animals that they are."

 

8. A dog can change your life

Katz is a strong believer that a dog can help you redefine yourself. "I think what drives me to writing about dogs is not the dogs themselves but the impact they have on people," he says. "I think it's really a case of animals opening you up to something." And he should know – Katz had lived in cities all his life, until he moved to Bedlam Farm, but now he can't imagine living anywhere else. "It drives you crazy sometimes," he says, "but I can't imagine not being on the farm."

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THis is some of the least non-sensical stuff I've seen from Katz. There are some silly assertions -- that the dog isn't chewing the carpet because of the new SO, for instance, which it might very well be doing. It wouldn't be doing it out of jealousy, per se, but if you are suddenly *ahem* unavailable for long stretches of time, it throws the dog's routine out the window and can contribute to destructive behavior.

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Seriously.

 

"It drives you crazy sometimes," he says, "but I can't imagine not being on the farm."

 

Never truer words were spoken by him. Even though he doesn't actually mean "you" meaning "the reader", as a professional communicator should when he switches to first person in the next clause.

 

Anyone who's been hanging out on the this board, or who has read a couple of good dog training books, could put together something like that. No deep wisdom there.

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I see he's changed his tune about rescues and shelters. I wonder who put enough pressure on him to make the 180 degree about-face? Maybe I'm cynical, but he's never seemed like the type to abandon one of his pet soap-box contentions (especially if he's expounded upon it with his usual pomposity) without serious outside pressure. It also appears he's learned a few things about not anthropomporphizing and ascribing human moitivations to dogs. Better late than never, I suppose. But I still wonder where the hidden bonus is in this for him.... he seems to be nothing if not self-serving. It makes me suspicious.

 

At least it's better than the usual advice he has for dog owners. :rolleyes: However, there is NOT a dog for every family - trust me, I've seen many examples of people who should never have a dog, not even a stuffed plush one, and Bill's right that the comments about house-derstruction behaviors are simplistic and possibly misleading.

 

Still don't like him. He's done too much harm for this to erase it all, and I don't trust either his motives or his "conversion" to this more moderate stance.

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Um, did anyone else notice the line about not buying one that needs exercise unless you have a big yard? That implies the yard is a substitute for exercising the dog. A border Collie would never be happy left alone in all day in the biggest yard in the world.

 

Mostly good advice, wish he would follow it.

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I see he's changed his tune about rescues and shelters. I wonder who put enough pressure on him to make the 180 degree about-face? Maybe I'm cynical, but he's never seemed like the type to abandon one of his pet soap-box contentions (especially if he's expounded upon it with his usual pomposity) without serious outside pressure.

 

One of the most consistent things I see in Katz is his inconsistency. He says whatever he needs to in order to make his point. Even in his first book before I ever had a Border Collie and knew nothing about working stock, I was puzzled by all the contradictions in his writing. He is not the most organized thinker I've ever run into.

 

I'd bet he's received enough heat about his anti-rescue stance to decide it's ruining his image as the kindly, folksy "dog expert." Or it is simply Katz being Katz and the next time he's quoted, he'll bash rescue dogs some more.

 

It was nice to see common sense information from him at least. Very basic but so many people out there don't have the slightest clue about what dogs need. And I agree about the unfortunate references to a big yard being a substitute for attention and exercise or that there's a dog for every family.

 

I also don't agree with the common belief that dogs have no sense of time. For one thing, how do we know that old adage? For another, we've all see our dogs who know when it is a certain time. Waiting by the window when it's time for school to let out, pacing around dinner time, etc. I suppose the dinner awareness could be the dog is hungry though my dogs are always hungry. But I'm still struck by how animals know when its time for their person to return.

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There is no question that Katz can channel conventional dog advice. Have you ever seen a pop mag article on getting and taking care of a dog that did not include these chestnuts? When he clicks into that mode, he can sound very sensible. It's when you compare those generalities to the specifics of what he relates doing with his dogs, and what he advises people to do in specific situations, that the teeth-gnashing starts. For example, "don't anthropomorphize" is something he constantly recites, as if no one had ever said it or thought it before him, but then look at his convoluted, bizarre explanations of why his dogs do what they do and feel what they supposedly feel. "Dogs love routine" -- ah, yes, very true. But if your dog is being driven crazy by being in the middle of a construction site with strangers streaming in every day and tearing things down around him and running noisy equipment . . . what then? Do you re-establish his routine by cutting back on the construction, or do you establish a new routine for him by confining him in a secure area when strangers are around? No, not Katz. Put the dog down. The dog has broken the "covenant" he made with Katz. (Anthropomorphism, anyone?)

 

And AK dog doc, don't think just because what he's saying here about rescue is 180 degrees from what he's said about rescue elsewhere, that he won't turn another 180 degrees on the subject tomorrow. He has been a spinning top about rescue for years now. If you tried to reconcile all the contradictory things about rescue that pop from his mouth or drop from his pen, you'd go nuts -- half the time he's disparaging it, and half the time he's portraying himself as a rescuer, and there's no linear progression to his thinking at all. I think it comes down to whether he's decided it would be good to look provocative and controversial, or heartwarming and admirable, at that particular moment. He can write readable prose, but he's profoundly incoherent in his thinking and in his "training" (at least as he describes it in his books), and I think that is ultimately what poor Orson couldn't handle.

 

ETA: I hadn't read Shetlander's post when I wrote this, but obviously I'm in total agreement with her about Katz's inconsistency.

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I'm probably not the first to point this out, but 'Bedlam Farm' is certainly aptly named if even a small percentage of what I've read about this Katz character and his real motivation is true.

 

'Bedlam' is a corruption of Bethlem - a notorious 18thcentury hospital-prison for the mentally ill, in London. It became a fashionable pastime for upper class guests who would pay a fee for a conducted tour to meet and gawp at the poor people inside.

 

Bedlam is still used over here as a term for a noisy chaotic environment.

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Even though he doesn't actually mean "you" meaning "the reader", as a professional communicator should when he switches to first person in the next clause.

 

Actually, perhaps this was a profound moment of self-awareness (as opposed to self-involvement) on his part. Because it sure does drive me, the reader, crazy.

 

I agree with the others who have pointed out that this "wisdom" that he's imparting is pretty much common-knowledge stuff. Sure, there are folks who own dogs who don't know it. But there are people who own cars who don't know what the emergency brake is for. Being able to tell them doesn't make one a master mechanic.

 

The point I was trying to make is that at least most of what he's said in this interview is relatively harmless, unlike some of the shinola he's published in his books.

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Guest SweetJordan
Um, did anyone else notice the line about not buying one that needs exercise unless you have a big yard? That implies the yard is a substitute for exercising the dog. A border Collie would never be happy left alone in all day in the biggest yard in the world.

I noticed. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who think that a dog doesn't need structured exercise if it has a large yard.

 

 

I also noticed his change in rescues/shelters as well. Which I thought was odd given the fact that I picked up a book at the bookstore by him(didn't buy it but was looking at it in the cafe at Borders). Anyway, it was about picking a dog. I was just curious as to what he had to say, bear in mind I've never read any of his books except for a chapter or two. He seemed to be very much in favor of buying from a breeder and against rescues/shelters.

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Sounds like he's learned to parrot conventional wisdom and has figured out being anti-rescue doesn't sell books or movie tickets. Maybe there are some farmers who manage to stick to a routine. On my farm, the unexpected happens. So I intentionally train my dogs and my horses not to expect their meals or anything else at a certain time. My farm, my schedule. No four-footers need freak out if I can't get to them till seven fifteen (or, horrors, eleven o'clock if I'm in trial), even if they usually eat at six-thirty. :rolleyes:

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This is a little of topic, but I read yesterday that they are making a movie about him and Orsen based on his book. I'm betting that will increase the number of Border Collie's in rescue and in shelters.

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This is a little of topic, but I read yesterday that they are making a movie about him and Orsen based on his book. I'm betting that will increase the number of Border Collie's in rescue and in shelters.

 

It's based on the firs book, A Dog Year. I'm hoping they'll make Orson look like the "Hellhound" Katz called him and a lot of people will be turned off. That's only a hope, of course but the book certainly didn't make me want a Border Collie. I'm worried about all the incredibly stupid things he did to Orson will look like oh, yeah, that's how you should train any dog, much less a BC.

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Guest SweetJordan
I'm betting that will increase the number of Border Collie's in rescue and in shelters.

I was thinking the same thing. :rolleyes:

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I just think- how can that be? THere are already so many BC's in rescue, I just really can't fathom it. But, you are right, the notoriety he so badly craves, will leave in it's wake, more BC's who are bought/dumped in fast fashion.

 

I was thinking the same thing. :rolleyes:

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Hi all, I just joined the list because of the way I was feeling for the last two days. I was at Barnes & Noble and saw Jon Katz's book on Orson, loved the picture on the cover. Even in a picture, I felt like Orson was talking to me through his intense BC eyes. I was so touched, and then I started reading the chapter about Katz's decision to put him down... As I kept reading, I was thinking that Orson must have had cancer or something irreversable and painful to make such a decision. Especially the way he described how Orson was completely trusting him and laying his head on his shoulder while looking into his eyes as he and the vet gave the last fatal injection... I started crying, and then I realized that the reason he killed his beloved dog was because he bit someone... I dropped the book like it burnt my hands. I still cannot fathom it, I was so disturbed that the next morning I found this list to join so that I can share my outrage with some people who would understand my feelings. I so wanted to find his email so I could write to him... He did not have to kill Orson, he could get in touch with a rescue group, something... I so wished I could be there to rescue Orson. I have a border collie named "Lady" and there are no words to describe how she saved my life so many times by being the dog she is. I got her when she was just 9 weeks old and I had just lost my mother. I was in deep grievance, that dog, along with her kennel mate mutt (Black Lab and Husky mix), saved my life... They took me out of my depression, and they still do... Lady is so intelligent, I think she literally understands every word I say. I just cannot fathom killing any of my dogs for the reason he described in the book. I am still emotionally shaken about it and cannot even understand that he writes a book about how he killed such a beautiful creature that trusted him completely. Please, help me understand why people do such things to beautiful animals. I am feeling the same outrage about the tiger, Tatiana, that is killed at SF Zoo just recently. (I live in the Bay Area, so this also is very close to our hearts here.). Those three punks were teasing the animal in the cage. They found a plank pushed into the cage, a sling, etc. They teased the tiger to the point finally she had to do something. Nobody has mentioned this, after attacking and killing the first guy, Tatiana caught up with the other two 300 yards away. Within that distance there must have been many other people present, but the tiger did not attack them, she knew who was teasing her, she went after them specifically and for that they killed her. I'd rather live with 50 dogs and tigers than people who mistreat them so arrogantly. A Siberian tiger, endangered species, is taken from its habitat, put in a confined area for these punks to come and tease her... what a pathetic story, what a horrible lesson to learn to respect nature and its beautiful creatures.

 

Thanks for reading.

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I didn't know that they killed the tiger. That is truly sickening!

 

I'd rather live with 50 dogs and tigers than people who mistreat them so arrogantly. A Siberian tiger, endangered species, is taken from its habitat, put in a confined area for these punks to come and tease her... what a pathetic story, what a horrible lesson to learn to respect nature and its beautiful creatures.

 

Agreed. There is no polite way to express how I feel about that "I fear it so it must die" arrogance, so I'll better not elaborate.

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I know exactly how you feel on the issue of Orson, and welcome. I rescue dogs who on are on their "last chance" usually because they've threatened people. I also really feel Orson wasn't given a fighting chance and was a pawn in a sick game.

 

As to the tiger - I'm afraid the poor thing was, at the time, on the loose. Policemen are not wild animal experts, they are experts at protecting human lives. I may be wrong, but it's my understanding Tatiana was shot by a police officer to stop her progress through a crowded area? I heard this a couple thousand miles away, right after it happened - we are from SFO and my mom called to let me know it was happening. So the story I heard could have been muddled.

 

But I do think you are right about John Katz, and as you can see, a lot here agree also.

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I don't think we actually have all the details of what happened with the tiger. There seems to be a lot of versions and talk coming from the zoo end of things but I haven't heard anything from the police other than they're investigating.

 

As to poor Orson, Katz didn't make a coherent case for why the dog needed to be put down. But Katz is rarely coherent. I think he could have simply managed the dog better and not kept putting him in situations that stressed him out so much. I'm still waiting for one of Katz's dogs to make it past the age of 8 before he gives it away or puts it down.

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I don't think we actually have all the details of what happened with the tiger. There seems to be a lot of versions and talk coming from the zoo end of things but I haven't heard anything from the police other than they're investigating.

 

The local talk is that, the kids put a plank into the tiger's area over the fence wall, leaning from the top (how she was able to jump out), and they were also throwing small rocks with a sling at the tiger. Yes, the police may not have the proper equipment to tranquilize but they could also shoot to injure not kill to de-stabilize the animal.

 

As to poor Orson, Katz didn't make a coherent case for why the dog needed to be put down. But Katz is rarely coherent. I think he could have simply managed the dog better and not kept putting him in situations that stressed him out so much. I'm still waiting for one of Katz's dogs to make it past the age of 8 before he gives it away or puts it down.

 

I grew up with dogs, many dogs. My grandpa was raising several different breeds, Pointers, Greyhounds, Dalmatians, and American Eskimos. We had a German Shepard and an American Eskimo as the family dogs. None of them was on a leash, all of them had their free living spaces (land), and my grandpa had other animals all together on the farm, chickens, turkeys, sheep, pigeons (around 200 of them, also all trained), ducks, cats, pheasants, peacocks, horses, donkeys, even fish in the pond... It was a very interesting social system he had created with these animals. They all had their section of the land that they lived, they could cross to each other's, blend, mingle, (the cages for the birds would be opened in the morning for them to fly and come back at the end of the day -- so, even the pigeons and ducks had a sense of time, contrary to what Katz says about dogs not having a sense of time) but never fight, attack, be aggressive. We, (I and my cousins), all played among these animals, none of us was ever bitten or threatened by any of the animals, none whatsover... At meal time, they would all eat at the same spot where the food was served and the scene was incredibly friendly, cordial, respecting the social ranking of each animal... they would each take turns in groups of their kind and eat. I have never seen any animal being agressive toward another...

 

Why am I telling all this, because I truly believe that it is the wrong people who are making animals vicious and that is not the animal's mistake... What breaks my heart and makes me angry is that the same people turn around and punish those animals for being just what they are supposed to be.

 

When I was getting my Border Collie, someone told me that "once you have a BC, you can never want another breed", how true that came out to be with Lady. I now truly understand why my friend said so. Border Collies are a special breed all by themselves that cannot be compared with any other breed, I am in love with the breed forever and very thankful for the friend who introduced me to them. Therefore, I cannot fathom putting one to sleep unless the dog is in dire situation, facing a painful death...

 

Before you get tired of me saying the same things, I thank you one more time for letting me vent... I so wish to come face to face with Jon Katz one day...

 

By the way, my real name is Leman and I am 55 years old, living with my son and husband and two dogs in California.

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...and she doesn't really have a personality.

 

Color me clueless, but I don't know who Jon Katz is. This statement raises the hair on the back of my neck.

 

Hurumph! :rolleyes:

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