Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Book Review - Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know

Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know by Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson
Sourcebooks, 2012

Why? I'm such a dog lover...and this one seemed like a no-brainer for me

Cover? Two dogs, one whispering into the other one's ear, insinuates dogs telling each other secrets.  But, the theme of the book is dogs telling humans what it's like to be dogs...the cover is a little misleading.

Title?  Again, a little misleading...in the book, the dogs are all talking to humans through open letters on a variety of subjects...if the dogs didn't want the humans to know, then why did they write (or dictate) letters to them?

What Now?  I'm happy to pass this one along to another blogger who'd like to give it a whirl :) I'll keep this giveaway open for two weeks :) Please put your email and blog address in the comments section.

Golden Lines

Axelrod - Yellow Lab and family dog - Thor from next door says this patch of ground is called an herb garden, just like the one in your bathroom.  I've been peeing on it three or four times a day, mostly on the leafy things you put in your salads.  I hope that's okay.

Orson - the English Bulldog who obsesses over food - I don't see you being forced to shake hands before you get a snack.  Okay, sure, I'll still shake hands.  It just seems like a double standard.

Sophie - older Cocker Spaniel - So we came to this kind of compromise, the kind where you don't know it's a compromise and I try to time out just how long your patience is.  I'll sniff around and squat a few times and keep walking.  And you'll keep your eye on my rear end like it's some kind of wrapped-up birthday present.

Tinkerbell - high maintenance Chihuahua - Brianna, sweetie.  I know why you do it, pretending that I can talk human.  You imitate my voice and say idiotic things in this high-pitched squeal.  You think it's funny.  And, you're very right, it could be funny.  Hilarious.  But it's not.

Bandana - Border Collie - What would I do if I ever caught a car?  I know you're thinking that too, and it's a fair question.  I don't know.  What would you do if you got to the end of that walking machine?  It's not going to happen, is it?  And I'm not going to catch that car.

Charlie - Miniature Schnauzer - Sure, not all growls are the same.  Buster specializes in the scary attack thing.  He'll put his ears forward and curl his lips and growl deep with his mouth almost closed.  Sometimes this is mean.  And sometimes he's just playing his ventriloquist joke with Snowball.  We play along.  "Look, Snowball is angry.  Ooh, we're scared."  Cracks us up.

Moonbeam - Mixed breed owned by a flower child - Killing seems natural to me.  For example, I love chasing pigeons.  And it's not because we're playing tag.  Look at my favorite toy, the squeaky squirrel.  it's made to look like a squirrel.  I track it across the lawn and attack.  And those squeaks add to the fun, especially when I get them going fast, like he's in a crazy panic.  And then I stop.  And the squirrel stops squeaking.  Doesn't get any better than that.

Sarge - German Shepherd who moves from job to job to job - Just last weekend, the Bosses had a pool party.  It was all fun and games for them.  But did they realize that there was another dog half a mile away?  Did they notice that the wind changed direction fifteen times?  Or that a big family of bunnies was thinking of crossing the lawn before I stopped them?  I didn't think so.


11 dogs write short snippets of their lives and just what it means to be their kind of dog living with their kinds of families in their kinds of neighborhoods, apartment buildings, etc.  A few of the important questions answered include "Why Do We Dig?" "Why Do I Eat Grass?" and "Why Do I Like You?" and a few "secrets" revealed include "I can poop the second I start my walk," "The reason I ate the sofa," and
"Why I Chase Cars."

What I Liked 

Tinkerbell - my least favorite breed in this book (Chihuahua) became a welcome laugh when I turned the page and saw her face next :)  She never disappointed me. 

Bandana - the Border Collie -a smart working dog for sure and one that's as bright and intelligent as can be when trained.  Can you tell I've owned two of these before in my lifetime?  And, I've observed several others at work with sheep and cows.  These are the sharpest and quickest witted dogs a person can find, and I thought the authors portrayed Bandana's quick mind spot on.  I chuckled several times because I recognized the dogs of my past in Bandana.

What I Didn't Like

Sarge - my favorite breed in this book (German Shepherd) just wasn't portrayed as well as I thought.  GSD's are some of the smartest dogs on the planet...hence their use in the military, police forces, etc.  Sarge was portrayed to some extent as if he was kind of a bumbler.  That made me sad.
***Full Disclosure here - I am a GSD owner and lover...so there's no doubt in my mind that I am biased on this point.

I'm all about spay and neuter...and while there are several jokes about dogs having their "balls cut off," the jokes/chapters about the dogs in heat just weren't funny to me.  A female dog's heat cycle isn't a pleasurable experience for her at all, and she shouldn't even have to go through it once.  There are enough animals in this world without homes without perpetuating the mythology of dog sexuality.  Sorry, but this was a sore spot for me.

Over-use of the word "fart"...I'm sorry; I just don't like this word...never have :( I realize dogs do just this all the time...remember I own 3 of them...but that's not the word we use to describe that particular body function.  Toot or poot works just fine for us.

Moonbeam's owner is a free spirit who seems to readily medicate her dog with herbs and concoctions that are downright dangerous.   I didn't find this funny at all either :(  

Overall Recommendation

Dog lovers only for this one...and it seems probably the more urban dog owners for this one since the examples are a little on the "city" side.  Rufus T, for example, is a Bloodhound.  In the rural South (where I'm from) a Bloodhound is anything but the circus performer wannabe that Rufus T is portrayed as.  I can only assume that Bloodhounds are seen through a very different lens in other parts of the country. 

The authors

Hy Conrad's website

Book website

Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, October 2nd: Peppermint PhD
Wednesday, October 3rd: 4 The Love of Animals
Thursday, October 4th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, October 8th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Tuesday, October 9th: A Heartbeat at My Feet
Thursday, October 11th: notes from a dog walker
Tuesday, October 16th: Dog is God in reverse
Wednesday, October 17th: Book Hooked Blog
Thursday, October 18th: Book Dilettante
Monday, October 22nd: Our Waldo Bungie
Tuesday, October 23rd: Savvy Verse & Wit
Wednesday, October 24th: Something Wagging This Way Comes
Thursday, October 25th: 24 Paws of Love
Friday, October 26th: A blog from the dog house
Monday, October 29th: Dog Foster Mom
Tuesday, October 30th: Reading on a Rainy Day
Wednesday, October 31th: Rescued Insanity
Thursday, November 1st: Books & Things
Friday, November 2nd: Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses
Monday, November 5th: Proud Book Nerd
Tuesday, November 6th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf


  1. I am a dog lover, but the fact that the title doesn't really reflect what is going on within the book would get on my nerves. Like, did they not think it through? Were they just so in love with that title they couldn't let it go? The things that you found annoying would probably bother me too. Maybe we are TOO MUCH dog lovers to take this completely tongue in cheek?

    1. Sandy, I actually think we're too "hard-core" for this book. And, I think only another hard-core animal lover would get that...

  2. The cover of this book looks exactly like my puppies looked when the old man was a lad and the big girl was just a wee baby. I'm sorry that this one wasn't what you were expecting though.

    1. Awww, Heather :) My husband is fond of Boston Terriers too...he remembers a special one from his childhood :) But, there are no Boston Terriers in the book :(

  3. This sounds good, but the things that bothered you would also bother me.

    1. Suko, the first few times I became irritated as I read, I just kept telling myself, "you're being picky" and pushing on to the next story...I did choose this book after all and I try very carefully to only choose books for review that are in my interest areas. But, finally I gave in to my feelings bc I felt the issues were so important in the real live dog world. The treatment of female dogs in heat was truly the deal breaker for me.

  4. I love the portion about Bandana!! I own two dogs so this would be a funny one to read. I'm glad you addressed what you didn't like as well as what you liked. I am willing to overlook/skip portions that seem in ill taste if the remainder is redeemable. Please count me in for the giveaway.

    Shirley @ My Bookshelf (http://shirley-mybookshelf.blogspot.com)
    I am a Canadian blogger. Not sure if this contest is open internationally or not.

    1. It is, Shirley!! :)
      Bandana was definitely one of the redeemable portions for me :)

  5. I can't imagine going through life without dogs so this sounds like a book I would enjoy.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  6. I agree with your assessment - there were several issues that this dog lover just couldn't get over. And the title annoyed me too, but I thought that maybe I was just too picky. Glad to see I am not the only one who noticed that! ;)