by Peter Martin
I liked this book, and I didn\’t. It\’s about a young couple who bought a beagle puppy in their first year of marriage, and tells of their life with it for twenty-one more years. They couldn\’t bear to restrain their dog\’s free spirit, so Perth was allowed to roam at will. Kind of like the guy from Merle\’s Door did with his dog. Only Perth was not Merle. She had a nasty habit of biting people in the face and her owner constantly came up with excuses why this was the victim\’s fault. He had the most ridiculous ideas sometimes of why the dog was behaving in certain ways, ascribing human emotions, moods and thoughts I\’m sure no dog really has. The dog has many narrow escapes, accidents, gets lost for six months and very luckily found again, and moves with the family numerous times between America and England. The dog also gets left behind several times for months when the author had to travel for work- with people who are not told about her biting history. I was appalled he left her in a summer girls\’ camp when she\’d never been around children before. I was curious to read about what it was like placing their dog in quarantine when they moved to England, I knew about those strictures before but never read a full description of the process. Well- long story short it\’s obvious this family loved their dog very very much, really adored her, but it\’s also obvious they fell short at managing her behavior, teaching her, keeping other people safe from her- not responsible at all.
I\’m not alone in that opinion. Lots of people on amzn decry this book, one person outright destroyed her copy rather than give it to another reader. And yet- I kind of like the way it\’s written. I enjoyed the descriptions of the English countryside and the small village the family eventually settled in. I just felt really bad for the dog, and outraged at many points in the story how her schooling was deliberately neglected.
I suppose I\’m rather hyped up about this because I just finished watching a National Geographic documentary about an animal sanctuary that works with problem dogs that would otherwise be put down in shelters. Perth is a dog that wouldn\’t have passed those behavior tests. Food aggression? Biting people? No way.
Rating: 3/5 206 pages, 2001