Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cesar Millan's Short Guide to a Happy Dog by Cesar Millan

Cesar Millan's Short Guide to a Happy Dog: 98 Essential Tips and Techniques, Cesar Millan. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2013. e-book, 145 pps.

Short Guide to a Happy Dog gives you the basics in digestible chapters. Cesar Millan covers dog psychology, natural dog laws, balanced dogs, pack leadership, and choosing the right dog for your household along with other stuff. 

A dog whose people refuse to or don't know how to be pack leaders will seek to fill the void. We blame our dogs for not doing what we want them to do, yet we do not create the proper environment for them to be able to respond to us. This is serious stuff. A large percentage of dogs who lose their homes find themselves in shelters, purebred rescue societies, or abandoned on the streets because of the improper actions of people. This alone ought to make caring dog owners everywhere want to learn how to be pack leaders and provide proper exercise, discipline, and affection for their dogs. But sadly, it does not.

Of the few dog owners that I was able to provide some direction to, two signed up for group obedience lessons, one took her dog to the vet where a long-term digestive condition was uncovered, one got through her puppy's teething stage successfully, and one hired me to exercise their dog. The rest of them continued to live with their "problem" dogs dominating their lives and the lives of their families. 

One "problem" dog was found dead by his dog house. He was four years old. He spent his life tied up there twenty-four/seven save for the times when he escaped and ran wildly around the neighborhood. Our animal control laws are such that as long as his humans gave his access to fresh water and food twice a day, what they did to him was legal. 

I salute everyone who have carefully chosen not to have a dog for whatever reasons. I did not know the four year old dog well. He was a beautiful Irish Setter that came to a bad end. He wasn't allowed inside the home due to allergies. He received hardly any attention, no exercise and no discipline. That dog would have been far better off had he never met that particular family.

sapphoq reviews says: Being a fan of all things Cesar Millan, Short Guide is no exception. Highly recommended to those who have committed to or are considering committing to a dog.

Cesar's Rules by Cesar Millan and Melissa Jo Peltier

Cesar's Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog, Cesar Millan and Melissa Jo Peltier. New York: Crown Archetype/ Random House, 2010. e-book, 222 pps.

Friday night in our household is Cesar Millan night. The younger cat and I watch several episodes of Cesar 911 together. Of the three animals-- which include the older cat and the dog but not the frogs in tanks-- Sirius Black is the one most interested in the moving electrons on the magic box.

I have benefited from watching Cesar ever since I discovered him on television some years ago. An old guy who used to show Springer Spaniels and then switched to German Shepherd Dogs was the one who taught me how to train my dogs in formal obedience. Cesar Millan taught me how to train myself. 

Being the pack leader involves energy. I also include proper posture in the expression of this energy. My dog notices. 

The current dog is going to be thirteen years old on April 2nd [if she lives]. She has old age problems plus a current additional problem of a bacterial infection from eating rabbit turds. Other than the recent expression of her fascination with the wondrous snacks from heaven, she really is an intelligent dog. And she has been easy to train. I will miss her when she dies.

Cesar's Rules delineate the basics involving dog psychology. Chapters include techniques developed by other trainers as well as having a balanced pack and the stuff that makes Cesar Millan a great benefit to those dogs whose people get training from him. 

There is new material also. I had never heard of Dr. Ian Dunbar before reading this book. I was happy to have the information about puppies and off-lead work. If the next dog is a puppy, I am going to give that a try [in fenced-in and secure areas] also.

sapphoq reviews says: We are a Cesar Millan household. I endorse and highly recommend all of the Dog Whisperer's books. Naturally, this one also.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Living With Yorkies by Pruitt Farm Publishing

Living With Yorkies: Things You Should Know, Emily Pruitt of Pruitt Farm Publishing. self-published via Pruitt Farm Publishing, 2011. e-book, 62 pps.

There was a family yorkie that was sent to me when she was eight years old. I spent the first two weeks correcting her for biting me. She bit me whenever I put her in the car and bit me whenever I took her out of the car. After the first two weeks, she did settle down some but she remained a bit cantankerous for the rest of her life. She was a cute dog though, and smart too. She got the same obedience training that all of my dogs get and was subject to the same rules. She got to have a lot of fun with me and my dogified household. 

We went on numerous hikes and back-packing trips. I'd carry her when she got tired. She would sleep in the tent with me either on top of my sleeping bag or inside. The other dogs usually preferred to sleep right outside the tent and I had to drag them inside when storms were hitting. She swam some too. When I groomed her, she would pick out her own barrette for her hair. She would walk in my footprints or ski marks in the snow but refused anything that resembled dog booties. She was a determined dog for sure. She died of old age.

Living With Yorkies was written by Emily Pruitt, the daughter of yorkie breeders. She points out the good and the not so good about yorkies and also what to watch out for. My yorkie had chronic pancreatitis-- diagnosed before I got her but not treated until my vet discovered this fact in an old vet record-- but never did get any signs of hypoglycemia.

sapphoq reviews says: Anyone who is considering getting a yorkshire terrier for the first time ought to read Living With Yorkies first, along with doing other research. Highly recommended.

The Single Biggest Mistake People Make When Choosing a Puppy by Kayye Nynne

The Single Biggest Mistake People Make When Choosing a Puppy: And How You Can Avoid It, Kayye Nynne. self-published, 2012. e-book, 18 pages.

Kayye Nynne had the experience of owning a totally unmanageable dog in spite of lessons and doggie boot camps and doggie behaviorists etc. I have had that experience also. We both forgot that when our cute and adorable puppies grew, they would be big dogs and suddenly their endearing behaviors were a problem. I have since learned that "if it is unacceptable in a large dog, then correct it in the puppy."

Kayye Nynne recommends asking yourself a bunch of questions before going out to hunt up a puppy [or a dog] to bring home. If you would rather die than go tromping off into the woods or for a four mile walk, then don't get a dog that wants to do those things. Sporting dogs [and a few dogs in some of the other dog groups] are notorious for requiring huge amounts of exercise. The problem with dogs who want to exercise is that they want their human or humans to go with them. If you are of the can't sit still for a minute variety, then don't get a lap dog. Makes sense to me.

Attending a dog show and watching the dogs work in obedience is one way to get to know some of the purebreds. There are also dog shows for mutts these days. Attending a water trial or a field trial is also a good thing to do. 

If you get a mixed breed dog, that dog may have the personality of one of its ancestral breeds, the temperament of another, and the work ethic and interests of a third. Complicating the issue is the idea that within any litter of puppies, whether purebred or mongrel, each puppy is an individual and can vary greatly from its litter mates.

Kayye Nynne recommends using the Puppy Assessment Test that evaluators use to pick out potential service dogs. I think that is a good idea.

sapphoq reviews says: If you are a first-time dog owner, recovering from owning a disaster dog, or do not have your own way of evaluating a potential adoptee dog, then read The Single Biggest Mistake People Make When Choosing a Puppy. Highly endorsed.

Must Love Dogs by Greg Dinneen

Must Love Dogs: How to Form Friendships with Dogs and Teach Your Dogs with Kindness, Greg Dinneen. self-published, 2015, 2009. e-book, 66 pps.

Must Love Dogs is full of white space. White space makes it easier for people like me to read books. I don't necessarily need larger print. I do need lots of blank space between sentences and paragraphs, the more the better. Although Greg Dinneen's e-book tops out at 66 pages on my e-reader, if regularly spaced there would be much less of it.

My initial impression was something like, "The beagles they got in Australia must be really different from the ones they got here" [in the U.S.A.]. I have to admit to being astonished that he got his beagles to walk off-lead safely. Beagles and safety are two words one does not find together often on this side of the pond. My second impression was, "Greg Dinneen doesn't care for Cesar Millan much" [or a Cesar Millan counterpart in Ozland]. 

I wasn't expecting stuff about horses. But there was bits of stuff written by someone years ago and I liked that.

sapphoq reviews says: Must Love Dogs was free when I picked it up. I don't know whether to recommend it or not. So, that's up to you. If you are looking for tips by a professional, then-- no. Otherwise, maybe. As long as it is free. 
I've had quite a few dogs now over the years [and cats and frogs] and have obedience trained my own dogs and helped a few random strangers out with theirs on occasion. Disciplining a dog is not the opposite of loving a dog. And I do follow Cesar Millan on Twitter [tm] and I watch his stuff on the television. 
On the other hand, the stuff about horses was fascinating reading and I may have to look up the old manuscript from which Greg Dinneen quotes.

Doggyvision by Wendy Darr

Doggyvision: How Dogs See, Wendy Darr. self-published, 2014. e-book, 35 pps.

sapphoq reviews says: Doggyvision was a delight to read. It is a short but fairly accurate description of what colors dogs can see. Also contained within are whimsical photos of dogs with added captions. The one on page 7 re: Doggy News Hour is especially adorable. The cover picture is of Wendy Darr's samoyed Casper, now passed on. Thirty five pages of science tidbits and whimsy is a winning combination. Highly recommended.

Butt Ugly Dogs by Dizzy Daphne

Butt Ugly Dogs: A Photography Survey of the Top 10 Ugliest Dog Breeds in the World! (Butt Ugly Stuff, #1), Dizzy Daphne.  self-published: Butt Ugly Books, 2014. e-book, 42 pps. with pictures!

sapphoq reviews says: Butt Ugly Dogs lives up to its title. The ten breeds of dogs in this book are uh, different. The information provided by the author Dizzy Daphne is accurate and spot-on. Each breed mentions has at least one picture, a profile, history, temperament, and "Rude Comment." This book was short and sweet and free when I got it. Recommended to those canine-philics and others with a sense of humor.
N.B.: The pictures in this book are "Royalty free images reproduced under license from stock image repositories." (p.41). They fit well and are much appreciated.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Franchising McChurch by Jon Mark Yeats and Thomas White

Franchising McChurch: Feeding Our Obsession with Easy Christianity, Jon Mark Yeats and Thomas White. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2011. e-book, 161 pps.

     Franchising McChurch is a wonderful book. I suspect that it was written with Christian pastors and church workers as a main audience. Nevertheless, there were many gems to be found in the writing of Jon Mark Yeats and Thomas White.

     The book takes issue with those who run their churches on the business model with pastors [or sometimes, "spiritual directors" in cases where rather than giving sermons, someone just throws the switch on a video] acting as C.E.O.s. Anything worth having is worth working for. This is as true of a meaningful Christian walk as it is of anything else. "Theotainment" is my new word of the day (page 92). 

     The authors state that Christian churches are traditionally good at either winning new souls [converts] or discipleship among members who are already believers but not both. They suggest that the number of people on the membership rolls is not a good enough indicator of success. Some churches, especially as they become mega-plexes, lose something in fellowship when there is more than one Sunday service. When music is choreographed and services are split according to musical or other tastes, the church body becomes splintered. People expect theotainment these days rather than true involvement with the work of their local churches.

     Yeats and White do an excellent job of describing various church structures (p. 135 on) and three things necessary for true success (pp. 94-95). So what is in this book for me as an atheist?

     I review books. I seek out books whose authors demonstrate excellent command of the language [yes, I read books in Spanish also but haven't reviewed any of them here] regardless of their political or religious affiliations. I don't usually read books that suck. Most of the books that I review are books that I own that I've chosen to read. A few books are from a place that has an active paperback exchange. By and large, I read mainly e-books because of my ocular motor dysfunction problems. It's easier for me that way.

     Back to the question: what is in this book for me specifically as an atheist? The information itself was excellent as was the thesis behind Franchising McChurch. Most valuable to me personally were the authors' thoughts on control-- (pps. 54 and 60 for examples). I have found that people controlling or attempting to control other people is a problem that is not limited to some congregations. As the authors state, in order to [attempt to] control someone, we must dehumanize them first. When I want to control the thoughts and actions of another adult human being, this desire points to something not quite right within me. I strive in my own life to restrain myself from the impulse to control others. A friend or lover who takes people hostage is not appreciated. A non-professional who enjoys "writing treatment plans" for others is wasting time and effort. When I [attempt to] control others, I miss out.

N.B. I don't have children. The rules may be different for raising kids but I don't profess to know anything about that.

sapphoq reviews says: I really enjoyed this book. Franchising McChurch has much to say about the state of Christian churches in the United States and ought to be read by any pastor or church leader who is seeking to emulate the best from early Christianity. Serious Christians will also benefit. Highly recommended.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Forged by Bart D. Ehrman

Forged: Writing in the Name of God-- Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, Bart D. Ehrman. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011. e-book, 256 pps.

Bart D. Ehrman is a scholar and college professor who has written some books about God, Jesus, The Bible, and Christianity. He was converted to evangelical Christianity in high school and first attended Moody Institute where he studied apologetics. [The word "apologetics" has nothing to do with apologizing. It actually involves composing arguments and defenses in favor of Christianity]. Ehrman went on to obtain a PhD from Princeton. He is fluent in [the reading of] several languages which include Hebrew and Greek. 

I attended several brief informal classes of Greek. Armed with a Greek New Testament and a Greek dictionary, the three of us did not get very far. I perhaps might try again but in a different setting with a different style of teaching.

I was taught about the perfect nature of the Bible and that all of it was literally true without any mistakes. I accepted this for several years until I started noticing contradictions in both the Hebrew and the Christian Bibles [Old Testament and New Testament are what we called them back in the old days]. The phrase "follow the evidence" means "follow the evidence wherever it leads, even when it doesn't lead where you want it to go." These days, I attempt to follow the evidence and the money.

Forged is a Bart D. Ehrman for the rest of us-- those of us who are not college students studying this stuff and not biblical scholars-- packed with information. Even so, I found that I did have to give this Ehrman book two full reads. Its pages contained some things that I was familiar with as well as quite a bit of new information.

I didn't realize that the pagans of old did not put an emphasis on the idea that one religion could be true and the rest of them false. Before Christianity took hold, pagans didn't care about such things. Worshipping the gods involved doing the proper prayers and whatever sacrifices were called for. Christianity was the religion that introduced the notion that some religious doctrines could be truth and others not so much. These days, some of the pagan camp fight over things like which gods can be invoked together and how pagan leadership positions are determined and whether or not Satanists are witches [some are and some aren't; also some Satanists are atheists and some are literal believers] and how the latest event went. This is not to say that the ancient days were better. Had I lived then, the appendicitis attack that I suffered in my late twenties would have killed me if something else hadn't gotten me sooner.

On page 19 of Forged, I found that we know about over one hundred forgeries pertaining to Christian writings between the first and fourth century C.E. Page 21 advised that a fellow named Cerinthus actually wrote Revelations, not a fellow named John and certainly not the apostle John. Ehrman pointed out correctly that Palestinian boys were not routinely taught even rudimentary Hebrew and that more than ninety percent of the population were illiterate.  Other pages broke down who wrote each book of the canonized Christian Bible, who wrote some of the books that were not accepted, definition of many terms, and the reasons behind forgeries back in those times. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were not actually written by those four apostles. The early church simply gave those gospels the names. There were many gospels floating around and believers had to be able to distinguish the ones they were using from the ones that they weren't.

Ehrman also pointed out that the literalism that is popular today was not how even the Puritans perceived the Scriptures. The current fundamentalist Christian movement started in the late  1800s [references below] at the earliest. Although Ehrman identifies as atheist, he does have some Christians among his fans. 

sapphoq reviews says: I found Forged a bit of a challenge to read but worth the effort. For those interested in what modern day [and some ancient] scholars are saying about the Bible, highly recommended.  not updated since August 11 ?2014.

References re: fundamentalist Christian movement origins:   [discussion on fundamentalism on a chat board]

Although I am an atheist, I do read some well-written Christian books as I find them. My next review will be on Franchising McChurch written by Christian pastors Jon Mark Yeats and Thomas White.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

A Three Dog Life, Abigail Thomas. Austin Tx.: Hartcourt Inc., 2006. e-book, 129 pps. including sample chapter of another book.

A Three Dog Life was a fortunate mistake. I was fatigued and browsing through some e-books for sale. My fingers slipped off the tablet but on the way, they hit the buy button. So I decided to read the book I had bought.

Abigail Thomas and her husband Rich lived in New York City. One night, he had a bad accident. That was the beginning of the upheaval. Rich was hospitalized. He had to have his forehead rebuilt. He didn't even look like himself anymore. He evidenced some personality changes. Abby found that she could not keep him at home. He was in one rehab hospital and then had to be moved to Lake Katrina.

I'd heard about Lake Katrina from some other members of a traumatic brain injury support group. "The art program is fantastic," they said, "but everything else sucks." I've been to the town of Woodstock-- where Abigail Thomas moved in order to be closer to Rich-- and some other places around the area.

The author settled into a nice little house with the dogs. The dogs were very good at comforting her, keeping her company, and providing companionship and entertainment. Rich had severe short-term memory loss along with some psychosis which dictated his placement in Lake Katrina. Abby goes up to see him once a week, usually Thursdays.

At one point in my life, I had three dogs. It was a fun time for me but I was also much younger. I find that one dog is enough now. If pressed or the right dog came around, I suppose that I might do two. But I'm not looking for the second dog.

My own dog stayed right by my side during those first few months after my traumatic brain injury when I was sleeping twenty two hours a day. I had a few of my own personality changes. Even my taste in reading changed. Although not free from mental and other complications, I am fortunate not to have any psychosis. I also consider myself fortunate to be able to maintain myself in the community rather than have to go live in Lake Katrina or somewhere.

Abigail Thomas indicated in her book that the art program at Lake Katrina is wonderful [so that has not changed]. She offered no complaints about the care given to Rich there [so hopefully that has changed]. She claimed that Rich will sometimes say things about situations that he has no knowledge of. I leave that to the reader's own judgement. My own cognitive difficulties demand that I take a pragmatic approach to life.

sapphoq reviews says: I was very interested in what Abigail Thomas had to say because she is a family member. I've read books by t.b.i.-ers [or t.b.i. survivors] and books by clinicians and a few books by clinicians who have had brain injuries themselves. I'm not sure that I've ever read an entire book by a family member. Now I have.
A Three Dog Life was a breezy read. The author's talent for words clearly showed in the pages. I liked her and I liked Rich too, or what I know of them from the book. Rich was quoted as saying some lyrical almost poetic things mixed in with things that demonstrated his aphasia. I came away knowing that Abigail Thomas loves her husband very much. She did not get into whining or complaining about how "horrid" his brain damage made her life or anything like that. I highly recommend this book to survivors, family members, and anyone that knows someone with a traumatic brain injury.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The French House by Don Wallace

The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All, Don Wallace. Naperville ILL.: Sourcebooks, Incorporated, 2014. e-book, 328 pps.

Don Wallace and his wife Mindy fell in love with Belle Ile, a small island in the Brittany province of France. They found a house for sale and bought it. The French House details their financial and cultural struggles to restore their home as well as their love affair with the island. Although they were summer residents [and not true ex-pats], I enjoyed this read.

I have my own dreams about finding a tiny island someplace to go live where the people are friendly but not pushy and there is clean water to swim in, a warm climate, maybe a few mountains and woods, and lots of birds. I enjoy traveling. Although I cannot afford to go to the more glamorous places yet, I meander around in the woods or on trains every chance I get. Consequently, I am a fan of Paul Theroux and I also read ex-pat books whenever I can get my hands on them.

There are pictures in The French House of the house itself, some old walls and scenery, and people. They were decent pictures which added to the enjoyment of the book for me. I like old walls and ocean shots in particular.

I also liked that Mindy spoke good enough French and that Don was picking up French [with some humorous mistakes] as fast as possible. I think it is important to adapt to our environments-- which includes foreign countries-- rather than expect that the world will adapt to us. Should I ever re-locate, it is my intention to become fluent in the language and culture of the place I pick. I do not want to live in a planned community of ex-pats who speak primarily English and go to the franchise stores that are available in the states.

It is unfortunate that people of all walks of life consider that they are entitled to government-given happiness or are somehow owed a living. Don and Mindy Wallace have more money than some folks do. Even so, they went after what they wanted and were willing to make the necessary sacrifices to get it. Some may criticize this last paragraph as a straw man sort of argument but I am leaving it in here anyways. Those are my own thoughts.

sapphoq reviews says: I liked The French House. Highly recommended.  [partially blocked by a "sign up for Pinterest"].