Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Review: The Puppy Diaries, by Jill Abramson

Around the same time I got Elka, the New York Times had a near-weekly column called "The Puppy Diaries", about raising a Golden Retriever puppy named Scout. At the time, I didn't have this blog, a mistake I'm kicking myself for now. Near-weekly guaranteed comment (and thus perhaps traffic) on the New York Times? Say it ain't so!

But anyway, the book of the columns, with some things removed and some holes filled in, has been published.

Overall, Abramson has an easy and engaging style while writing, so The Puppy Diaries goes quickly.  Perhaps the entire book might be looked upon as a metaphor for just how quickly those puppies grow? I liked that Abramson and her husband immediately threw themselves into the rigors of potty training, dog socialization, and training. They let training go lax a few times, as one does, and then bolstered themselves with further resolve as well.

Scout, like many dogs, had problems with pulling on the leash. They tried using a clicker (as has worked for Elka and I!) but, Abramson confesses, weren't consistent. So, it didn't "fix" Scout. They tried the head halter, which she hated, so they put away, and I was happy to read that. Their most successful method (and this is compared to choke chain corrections, which they also tried) was to come to an abrupt stop when Scout pulled, and she got the picture.

Did I grit my teeth every time Abramson mentioned how she and her husband watched Cesar Milan and read his books? Yes. Did they "tsst" and foot tap Scout? Nope. So, a mix. They had dogs before, and educated themselves when they got this one, and found a balance. That's really what you can hope for.

Added bonus: an audio clip of The Puppy Diaries, from McMillan!


  1. It sounds like a decent read for a lazy afternoon. Who doesn't love a book of cute puppy stories? But I know I wince every time I read about some clueless owner choking their dog or quoting Mr. Milan too. It's knee-jerk at this point. But I try very hard to never judge. I was once pretty clueless too, after all.

  2. We will add this to our read list!

    Stop on by for a visit

  3. Can I just confess that this book became infinitely less interesting to me when I realized it was a Golden Retriever puppy?

  4. LOL, I love how you bemoan the lost linking opportunity.

    Sounds like a cute book. I don't whisper and I cringe when I hear that stuff, but I love hearing about people who do their research, read his junk and realize there is abetter way! I'll have to check the book out! Thanks for the tip!

  5. I doubt I'd read it. Kind of been there and done that:) But you wrote a good review!

  6. @Kristine It certainly did have a lot of cute stories in it! Puppies are apparently a drug for me.

    @Kari In Vegas I'm sure giving you a lot to add to your list! I've got that Library advantage ;)

    @Jessica I think that's valid. I want there to be more Doberman books! (of the "right" sort, of course!)

    @Kolchak hey, exposure is exposure ;)

    @Greyhounds CAN Sit Thanks very much! I read the columns as they came out, so there wasn't a whole lot of new ground here, but some.