Sunday, September 7, 2014

Book Review: The Art of Raising a Puppy by The Monks of New Skete

Title: The Art of Raising a Puppy
Author: The Monks of New Skete
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Source: Digital Copy

I've been feeling the fog of having two toddlers beginning to lift for a month or two (maybe I'm deluding myself). They seem to be on the counters less often. It's been at least a few months since the last paint mishap. Eli isn't making a break for the road twenty times a day. They're both (mostly) potty trained, and we can sometimes get a night or two of sleep a week when no one wants to share our bed with us. But I am a masochist, so when the kids started up a puppy campaign about three weeks ago, I didn't say no. I'm allergic to dogs, so they researched the "hypoallergenic" breeds. We visited a friend's goldendoodle puppy and I wasn't wheezing after twenty minutes, so we called up the breeder and there were still seven puppies from the litter available for adoption.

Miles has now been a part of our family for a little more than two weeks. We had four days from the time we decided to add him to the family until we picked him up. I have literally ZERO experience with dogs. I hate dogs. I'm afraid of them. In fact, I like to say that my fears while running by myself in the dark are: 1) dogs, 2) skunks, 3) cars, 4) rapists. I certainly never thought I'd cuddle with one or bathe one or clean up poop from one or pull one voluntarily onto my lap. Long story short: we needed help. And quick.

I have a friend from high school who has a mature goldendoodle, and I asked her for advice, and she said that the best books I could read were by the Monks of New Skete, who breed and raise German Shepherds in Upstate New York. I knew nothing about dog psychology and still know very little, but this book was an excellent crash course. The Monks go into detail about how to become the leader of the dogs' pack, how to understand them, and how to be a gentle but firm "master" to them. Furthermore, I loved the insight I got into both breeding and raising puppies and into the contemplative live at New Skete. But only a glimpse, because any opportunity for a contemplative life for me has now been put off a little bit while I help raise this sweet puppy of ours.

My only critique of the book is that it reads so much like a novel that I wanted to read it from cover to cover before we got the puppy, and now that he's here I don't have the time to go back to it like I should.

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