by Jon Katz
This book surprised me a little. Yes, it\’s another one about the dogs on Bedlam Farm. This one focuses on a particular dog named Frieda, who belonged to a woman that became Katz\’ wife. It\’s a love story, a story of patience and acceptance and learning to remake one\’s life. Katz knew Maria for several years as a fellow artist and friend, before they both became divorced and he dared express his interest in her. They gradually explored their relationship and Katz knew he wanted to be closer to Maria, to spend the rest of his life with her. But her dog stood in the way. Frieda was fiercely protective of Maria and didn\’t want to let anyone near her, especially men. Katz worked tireless hours, patiently earning the dog\’s trust, teaching it some discipline, learning about its background and why Frieda was so fierce. Eventually things worked out, but it took him an entire year. He doesn\’t have exactly conventional views (at least, in modern circles) on dog training, so this was an interesting read in that regard.
I noted his observations on how casually many people take dogs into their lives, without spending the money or research on them. Amused by an incident where his dog Izzy helped break up a riot (a violent food-fight really) at a nursing home among alzheimer\’s patients. Insightful his description of helping Maria navigate the world of the internet, and how she responded to putting her artwork out for the world to see. Startling and clear, how he found inspiration from the story of Helen Keller and her teacher Sullivan, to reach through to Frieda and teach her to be calm and accepting. The dog ended up becoming as fiercely protective of Katz and his farm as he once was of only Maria (protecting the farm animals too, when first she saw them as prey), and being calmer in general around situations that used to cause excited outbursts. A remarkable story of what efffort one man went through to get through to this particular dog and her beloved human.
Rating: 3/5 267 pages, 2013