Sunday, November 8, 2009

Momma's Book Review (and conehead update)

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.

Mango Momma


Maxmom said...

Dear Mango-Momma
Thank you so much for your thorough review of DOGTOWN. We haven't read it (yet), but will look out for it having taken your advice.
What I enjoy about your writing is that you are always candid and direct. Thank you for that.
As for the Mango-cave...well we have discovered that life with dogs is always a learning curve. Hang in there.
MAX's mom in SA

D.K. Wall said...

Our own Dogtown review is coming early this week - not sure which day yet. Dad is down to the last 15 pages.

Poor Mango and the cone of shame. Did love Dex's look when you asked if it was his cone. Kind of "be glad to give it up" look.

Mack said...

I think Dexter looked relieved now that Moose is gonna be wearing the cone!
Poor Mango.

Thanks for the book review MM. Mom is always looking for a new read.

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! said...

I'm khwite proud to see The Khone on the khat I sent MRH!

Poor poor Mango and his momma!

PeeEssWoo: Tank woo fur the book review too!

Nancy at the Farm said...

Mango Man, You are working right into Dex's plan of action! You are forcing the biped to take off the cone more than she normally would - I am sure Dex is really happy with that. "Dog up!", be a man or a canine or whatever! Grab the cone and chew the heck out of it! It must be in one of the food groups..

Love, Cooper

pam said...

I've always been conflicted about no-kill shelters. I'm going to get this book when it comes to my library. Thanks for the review.

And Mango, chilly down doo.

pam said...

Just watched the movie. Mango just wants the moose outie there!

Gus said...

Mango Mamma Many thanks for the review. I have seen the Dogtown book and considered it for my wish list, now I have more information for my decision.

Gussie has cone issues when Teka is wearing it. Teka has NO cone issues when Gussie is wearing it. Maybe it is a big brother kind of thing?


Rocky Creek Scotties and Rocky Creek Ramblings said...

Thank you for the book review - our Mom is always looking for a good read - we think she'll probably have to check both of them out.

We hope that Dexter heals soon. When Java had his surgery, Mom and Dad were having him kenneled at the Vets and were away for about 2 weeks so by the time they got back he was healed. This, too, shall pass.

Lilly, Piper, Carrleigh and Java

Unknown said...

Excellent insight and review. I've watched dogtown on the natl geo channel. It hasn't been on in a while. I think as you pointed out, you can loose sight of the big picture. Is your efforts really providing the dog in a better quality of life. Sometimes our devoted well intended efforts distort the true focus and goal, even in other aspects of life. I'm not a big reader but you've convinced me that this is a worthy one.

Hey.. try the click and treat method with the cone. Any time Mango touches the cone, click/treat. So it has a positive association..which the moose should've but maybe food is a higher reward.

Frankie Furter and Ernie said...

I am glad you liked the Dogtown book. My mom has watched the show on TV. She would agree that they never show any of the unsuccessful attempts.
Loved the buckethead moose and cat. Poor Dexter. I completely understand how he feels. Mango, this too shall pass.

Moose said...

Interesting reviews! I will check them out. I mostly listen to books while driving though so will have to look for them on iTunes!
Poor Moose, stuck in a cone by proxy! We are delighted that RH is enjoying him and bravely tried to rescue him from the cone monster. It seems that he is only scared when it moves though. Maybe Mango Momma should put it on! Hee hee! I see that video going viral on you tube for sure!
I hope things settle down soon. If I am not mistaken RH does not easily change his opinion on frightening objects though :-( I imagine it is stressful keeping everyone happy and safe.

The WriggleButts said...

That does sound like an interesting read! I'm always fascinated (and saddened) by the amounts of homeless dogs you have and the challenges that comes with them.

Hope Dex is out of his cone soon!


Sophie Brador said...

Special private message for Dexter: Sorry to hear about your missing boy bits. I'm sure Randi will still love you. I know I do.


P.S. Don't tell Stains I said that.

BRUTUS said...

Poor Mango... That mean momma put your moose stuffie in the cone, and he hadn't even been tutored! I can see in the video how worried you are that the cone is eating the moose. Looks like you were trying to rescue him, but no use. Lovely sound you made, by the way, with the yawn - reminds me of some of my own fabulous singing skills :) Good luck with the moose (and Dexter the cone monster too).

Brutus the Frenchie

koko said...

Great reviews of the books... I saw the latter at the bookstore here but Dogtown is not available yet. May give it a try after your review.

Hope the cone monster will be gone soon and Mango can finally come out of the dog cave.

Licks, hero

the magic sleigh said...

Wooos Mangos Momma! Great review of a great book and a truly wonderful place! Mom's heart goes out to all to those animals and the volunteers, so she donates a portion of all of her sales to Best Friends! A Magical cause, and for hope for all!
-Kira The BeaWootiful

TwoSpecialWires said...

You know what happens when your moma is trying to catch up and you have to go out? Like NOW? Like an hour ago! It's painful. So we told her she could come back and read these post like she wants to ... carefully ... but right now we need to PEE and POOP! So, in an effort to not further delay her reading and posting, this is it for a comment. But know she'll be back.
We promise.

Outta here!
Jake and Fergs xxoo

TwoSpecialWires said...

OK. We're being honest here. She said she was going to take us out. She DID get our teeth brushed (first things first, she says) and got herself ready. But then she snuck back in here to read this post. She couldn't help herself, she said. It gave her goosebumps. And made her think about all the dogs that struggle to find the happiness they deserve. She's glad there is a place for at least some of these doggies - and is grateful that you reviewed the book and honestly voiced your opinions.

And the second book ... it'll be a must read, as well. The All Creatures Great and Small series is a household favorite around here, and anything that takes a similar form is worth the read. Moma says "Thank you for drawing it to her attention."

Counting the remaining cone days with you. Hang in there.
Jake and Fergs xxoo
(NOW maybe we can go out for our walk)

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

Ya mom.. Thanks for the review..
How did the moose get that on?

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Biggie-Z said...

I had heard of Dogtown awhile back. Thanks for the book review, I am definitely interested. It is really sad how many dogs have issues and sometimes we don't know why. (We have a friend in the dog run who has a JRT who needs to have his issues managed. They have come a long way with them, but it is still hard for them.)

Sam said...

Great review and I think you really hit the nail on the head.. I share a LOT of the same views with you about DogTown. Part of me likes it, part of me doesn't, but they're extreme and do amazing work, and there's no denying the fact that they've helped a lot of dogs.

I, too, sometimes wonder about the realities of no-kill shelters. Is staying in a shelter for two or three years really humane? Or, is it a good, thing, since some of those long residents do wind up getting adopted? It's a thought-provoking question, for sure, and I know people who take stances on both sides.

Two French Bulldogs said...

Thank you for the information on Dogtown. We thought your brother shrunk for a minute from wearing that cone-head thing...whew!!
Benny & Lily

Martha said...

Thanks for the review on Dogtown - always good to have a thought provoking read.
We tend to support rescues who have a no kill policy.

I know the rescue Bailey came from have foster carers they support financially for dogs who are not adopted.

The very old and those with health problems are allowed to live out their lives in a home environment. The foster carers are supported financially by people who sponsor a pet.

This doesn't address the matter of aggressive, difficult to place dogs though - you now have me thinking!

Susan said...

Hello Mango and Dexter - I am so sorry about all of your turmoil - my Mom works in a S/N Clinic so she knows first hand about those conies - just a few more days!
Love Sadie Mae

From Susan - Enjoyed your review of Dogtown - as a big fan of Best Friends for many years I am surpised that everyone does not know them intimately ha! I highly suggest readers go to their website and the BF network for lots more stories: the good and the not so successful - they believe in presenting an upbeat take on all things rescue but they do not cover up the difficult and heartbreaking -
Also I have been to the sanctuary twice and it is, in my opinion, the best place on earth - there is a peace there I have not felt anywhere else and part of that is the joy of the animals and the care they are recieving - they are as far from a traditional shelter as they can get. As we in animal welfare drown in numbers: rescue numbers and numbers not rescued, etc. BF reminds us that each individual animal is important and there is always hope.

And hope is such an important part of getting the work done -

Paco,Milo, Maya and mommy Simona said...

Hi Mango's mom....Thanks for the great review..
I hope to find the book here in Italy...if no i'll buy it in internet!!!!!
it seems a wonderful story!!!!!!!!!
Thanks fro sharing with us!!!!!
Awwwwwwwwwwwwww...poor MAngo and Poor Dexter....
We have lost some post..but now we're back.....we're sooooooooooooo sorry for them!!!!
Hope Dexter is out of the cone soon so MAngo could be happy again!!!!!!
WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sweet kisses and licks!!!

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ said...

Thanks for the book reviews. Mom is always looking for a good read, now if she can find the time to read, she has two books to add to the list.

And how much longer before those stitches come out? Have you considered a different style collar? They sell those ones that wrap around the neck, not sure if Pee Wee could still get at the stitches, but might be worth a try. A house divided is no fun.

Good luck, the OP Pack

Tama-Chan, Benny, Momo, Vidock, Violette, Ollie, Hotesse & Heloise said...

Thanks for the very interesting and thoughtful book review! Dogtown sounds like a pretty amazing place, even though it certainly has its issues too.

Sorry that Mango is still cone-phobic. How log does Dexter have to wear it?

The Oceanside Animals said...

Okay, the music in the Moose-Cone video is just totally perfect!

Astrid Keel said...

Mango Mamma, thanks for your reviews! We're definitely going to check out the second book as Momster (no no... not a cone monster...!) lurves James herriot's stories. :)

Hope everyone feels better soon: dexter with his tutoring and mango with his confusion.l :)


Marjie said...

The poor guys must be so confused. I'm sure it's driving you insane! Nice book review; at least you got a mental break from doggie disputes!

Ziggy Stardust said...

Mango, that is very confusing. Did your stuffy go to the Vet place too?? Did he have something done also. Be careful my pal, you might be next.

licks and sniffs, Sasha

p.s. You sold me on Dogtown, I love to read, I am goint to check it ou. I have read about that place and seen it on TV, the book sounds interesting. Thanks Anne

Lorenza said...

Thanks for the review on Dogtown. Sure is an interesting book.
Poor Mango!
Lets hope the cone dissapears soon!
Take care
Kisses and hugs

Dewey Dewster said...

Nice book review MAngo Mom....I think we did hear a bit about Dogtown....I need ta get Gram ta visit their site.....there's so much ta think about when ya talk about savin' animals...Gram wonders all the time why the vets and animal organizations spend lots of $$$ and operate on extremely ill and mutilated animals when there are hundreds of perfectly healthy ones that are euthanized every makes a good story but don't they all deserve a second chance????

Sorry Mango can't seem ta ignore the can be a bit intimidatin' but ta attack Dexter.....REALLY.....hope it all works out fer ya.....the moose did look cute in that thing....if ANYTHING...can look cute in a cone that is.....

Have a great week....

Dewey Dewster here....

Duffy said...

Duffy's mom here. Enjoyed the review of Dogtown. Not always so easy to make a seemingly good idea work out in every case, I guess.
Duffy here. Does any dog not freak out at those big, white, plastic things?!!! Nice try at the moose rescue, though.

The Army of Four said...

Cool review. This sounds like something I could really sink my teeth into.

1000 Goldens said...

Thank you for the reviews Mango Mom - that was good stuff! You are so cute to try the Moose to ease Mango's stress. Can't wait for everything to get back to normal for you and the boys :)

Anonymous said...

4 words: Mango Man! Oh Yeah!

brooke said...

great book reviews!
Poor Mango. He looked so concerned that his moose was in the cone.
Hopefully only a few more days of cone time for Dexter!

Amber and Nala said...

My Mom saw this book at a bookstore this summer in Jackson Hole, WY. :) She thought Dog Town sounded like a neat place.


Stella said...

My Mom and I have watched Dogtown on National Geo channel Friday nights and enjoyed seeing what they do. They only take dogs that are unplaceable anywhere else and then work on them. They got quite a few of the Vick dogs and that was most interesting. My Mom wants to read the book mostly to learn who is behind it all and where the money comes from.



MJ's doghouse said...

we watch dogtown on national geographic channel i is an awesome show. i sure hope that dexter doesnt have to wear that cone for too needs to relax

The 'splorin' Wolfies said...

it is a porcupine--stay tuned. it is not pretty

Life With Dogs said...

A cone on a stuffie. I have seen it all. ;)

Great book review - I had not made my way to this one yet and it looks like a gem. :)

Anonymous said...

Good review. I caught a couple of episodes of that show before my cable company took national geo off the lowest cable paying bill.

I always have mixed feeling about no kill shelters. This one by far is better than most. I just think quality of life should be more important than quantity. If a dog has issues with other dogs and can't get comfortable with handlers what kind of life does he have?

Hope Dexter heals up fast so you can get rid of the cone and get things back to ususal lol.

doyle and mollie said...

oh dexter what have you gone and done - weve been a bit busy and have only caught up with the cone monster saga - mango man you gotta chill ok!

Arran, Arthur and Mum said...

Oh dear I has just read all through the tutoring saga.
I am a kind of dog that gets very scared of monster things.
I was so scared when I was a conehead at first that I wouldn't move at all in case it got me.
I hope Mango realises it just Dexter and not a monster that has got him.
~lickies, Ludo

Emily and Ike said...

Thanks for the heads up! I'll have to check out that book.
Pee S - Is Dex smarter now?

TwoSpecialWires said...

Guess what we just learned! Our Rescue Angel (see previous posts, if you want) PJ is going to be volunteering at Best Friends in a couple of weeks. That's where she got her late Airedog. And she said (don't quote us!) "if there is another airedale there, he or she is coming home with me!" We're excited to get her first hand account!

How many more days of that blasted cone?

Jake and Fergi

Oskar said...

Poor guys and poor Mango Momma. Hopefully it will all be over soon.

My mom person says the books sound great, she's going to check them out.

Peanut said...

mango I hope you have figured out that the cone isn't a bad thing

Unknown said...

How funny - we were contacted to do a review on the same book! My human has been so busy she has only replied to them yesterday and then she told them that if they don't send it to us quickly, we won't be in NZ that we have read your review, we are looking forward to seeing our copy (if they can be bothered to send it to the end of the world!)

Aw...poor Dexter (and Mango) with the cone! You know, Mango, maybe your Momma should enlist the help of your cookies. I know how much you like them. She should put some cookies in the cone, instead of toys, and then just leave it on the floor and ignore you - let you know go up at your own pace to get them. Also, she should feed you lots of yummies (extra special ones like ham or sausage) whenever you see Dexter wearing the cone (*like the minute you see him, before you have a chance to react, she should shove a treat in your mouth! Also, anytime you are not reacting to him - even for a second, she should praise (maybe click) and treat you - it is just desensitising you and reconditioning you to the cone)

Anyway, I am so behind in post, this is probably all irrelevant now as Dexter probably already has the cone off! I'd better go and read your latest post before I contiinue blabblign rubbish! :-)

Honey the Great Dane