Mango Momma here. I am hijacking Mango's blog to do a book review (so scroll to the end if you just want the Mango and Dexter news).
The people at National Geographic contacted me to read and review their new book, Dogtown.
I figured, why not, since I would probably read it anyway and they were offering to send me my very own copy. Plus writing this review is a good excuse to spend time in the dog cave with Mango who still has "issues" with the cone beast.
First of all, I want to congratulate National Geographic on getting an author who can actually write a good story. So often books such as this have a lot of good things to say, but the writing is so bad I can hardly stand it.
I had never heard of Dogtown before. Dogtown (Best Friends Animal Society) is a unique rescue organization located in Utah. It is a no kill shelter that promises to provide homes to any dogs (and cats and some other things) in need even if it means that Dogtown itself becomes their forever home. You can visit their web site here.
The best thing about this book is that it made me THINK! I like that. As I read the stories of dogs with horrible backgrounds finding their way to Dogtown, I alternated between feeling that this was too big an investment in too few dogs, many of whom have severe emotional issues, and thinking that Dogtown is the best rescue organization ever.
About 20 years ago I volunteered at our local no kill shelter. At first I thought it was a wonderful mission, but as the years went on and I watched dogs come in and stay there for weeks, months, years, and become increasingly non-adoptable (most likely due to being housed in standard runs in a loud scary place) I became kind of disillusioned with the whole idea. Was this really humane?
Dogtown has the resources to provide a different experience. They have acres of land and the dogs live in communities based on their temperament. Prospective adopters are provided with cottages in order to have sleep overs with their potential pets. People can take Dogtown vacations to spend their time working with the animals.
Best of all, Dogtown will give top notch veterinary care to animals with injuries too burdensome for the average rescue organization. They also travel to places such as New Orleans (after Katrina) to help with rescue efforts and reuniting dogs with their owners. It is really an organization unlike any other.
The stories are wonderful. The book alternates stories of individual rescues and personal accounts by some of the staff. It shows how they work to rehabilitate dogs and the staff provides their voices on how they came to be at Dogtown. These autobiographical snippets are especially endearing as the people readily admit to the occasional mistakes they made in caring for dogs; both their own and at Dogtown.
That said, the book did kind of gloss over some of the issues that Dogtown must face given their commitment to provide a forever home for any dog unless severe medical issues indicate that euthanasia would be the humane option.
One story in particular talks about a dog having trouble integrating into his Dogtown pack which resulted in him being attacked not once, but twice, so severely that he required medical care. I expect there are more stories like this and I would have liked to see a bit more information about how they handle these situations. There are dogs there who are forever living in private runs due to their inability to ever be totally safe around other dogs. The book claims that these dogs do eventually get comfortable with some of the handlers, but it raises some questions about quality of life.
Dogtown's philosophy is, to my mind, extreme, but that's OK. I firmly believe that the world needs radical organizations who take hard stands in order to pull us moderates out of our comfort zone now and again.
They only include adoption stories with happy endings and don't tell me enough about how the adoptive homes make accommodations for these troubled dogs. Well, except for one story about a dog who was taken in during the last years of his life and provided with a private second floor suite in his forever home because he couldn't be around the other pets in the house.
I see the struggles that some of our blogging pals go through with their dogs and I applaud the patience and dedication they have to help their furry friends overcome their issues and find happiness. I would have liked getting to know some of the caring people who take home and love Dogtown dogs a little better. And maybe even hear about adoptions that don't go so well.
Overall, I am going to give this book a big thumbs up. It is a wonderful read and ultimately left me feeling filled with hope. That this place even exists is tremendous.
As long as I'm doing book reviews, here is another one I recommend (this one I got from the library).
Sure, the guy is no James Herriot (but who is). Even so, he writes better than a lot of dog book authors and the stories are very interesting.
Now for a brief Mango and Dexter update.
In an attempt to make the cone less scary, I tried putting the moose inside of it.
Mango was uncertain.
Here is the movie version. With me holding the scary cone monster, he is more likely to shy away than go on the offensive. With poor pee-wee's black head pointing out, we're still getting big dog. I left Dexter's cone off for a few seconds this morning while I went to get Mango for breakfast and of course he was after his surgery site immediately.
We continue to be a house divided. Fortunately, Mango spends a lot of his day in the dog cave anyway, but this is really getting old. Sigh.