The first time I heard about the book Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You To Know was in a review written on The Poodle (And Dog) Blog. It sounded so delightful and I was tickled a few days later when I received an email offering me a free copy to review on my own website. While product reviews hold little interest for me, I am always up for a chance to check out a new dog book. Especially one as pretty as this.
If you haven’t heard of the book before or read any of the other reviews on the tour, essentially it is broken up into eleven separate stories as told by eleven different dogs. Each tale is broken into different parts throughout the book and written as a series of letters. You can either flip through the book reading each story in its entirety before moving onto the next one, or – like I did – you can start at page one and read straight through to the end. Either way you are sure to find a giggle at every turn.
Authors Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson are obviously big-time dog lovers and based on their understanding of the canine brain I assume they have lived with many dogs in their lifetimes. From his website I learned Mr. Conrad was one of the writers of the popular television show Monk and this creative background definitely shows in his latest work.
While most of the dogs’ stories made me laugh out loud, there were a few that depicted a different, more dramatic tone. The life of Sarge the German Shepherd, for instance, seemed anything but happy. I think my PH is still a little miffed the working dog was given such a bad lot.
With so many dogs, it was hard for me to choose a favourite. Would it be the consummate lab, Axelrod? Or the OCD Border Collie, Bandana? Naturally, my love for mixed breeds held out and it was Moonbeam the scraggly rescue who retained my strongest affection. I loved her version of humour so much that I was inspired to write a little “Shiva” tale based on one of Moonbeam’s letters:
Things Shiva Doesn’t Want You To Know, or “Why I’ll Never Be A Champion”
I know you are frustrated with me when I run around on the agility course like I don’t know what I am doing. You are worried I am stressed out or that I don’t like to play the game anymore. Neither of those are true in the least. I love jumping over obstacles! Even more I love running through those wooshy tunnels! Can’t you tell by the way I pass up treats in order to zoom through just one more time?
It’s not that I don’t know my job either. Please don’t insult me that way. We have been practicing for three years! I’m not stupid and I am way, way faster than every other dog. If I wanted, I could show everyone up, even those snobby Shelties, and be a world champion by now!
Here’s the thing: I don’t want to.
There is something about me you don’t know. Something that happened long before I ever met you. I’d tell you but I’d have to kill you. No joke! It’s a secret so big I had to be put in the Witness Protection Program for Dogs. Seriously! It’s a real thing! That’s how I ended up at the shelter and why they tried so hard to get you to take me home. They knew I’d live a life of obscurity in your care. No offence. This is why I was so anxious all the time that first year. I kept thinking I saw the guy who was after me. I had to bark and bark and bark to keep everyone away, just in case.
Then we started doing the agility thing and it was so much fun! For a while I almost forgot all about my past and how I had to remain unknown. When I learned from the other dogs how famous I would get if I kept at it, I realized I had no choice. I had to throw the match. And every other match. It’s the only way I can stay safe.
It’s not easy! Sometimes I still forget I have to be careful and I find myself actually following directions and flying over the obstacles like the superstar I am. But then the videos get aired and I get worried my cover will be blown. So next time I have to pretend I am crazy again. You have no idea how much it hurts to see those slow dogs win all the ribbons and all I get is a sad expression from you. My soul! It bleeds!
So now you know. Don’t tell anyone okay? It will be our little secret.
Okay, I am totally making this up. I can’t lie! The reason I run around so much is because it’s just so much fun! You should try it! Maybe then you wouldn’t be so frustrated all the time. Take it from me, life is too short.
Shiva (the Dog)
If you think that was amusing, you’ll want to read the eleven better accounts in the actual published book. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll probably never look at your own dogs the same way again. Don’t believe me? Find out what the other bloggers on the tour have to say!