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The New Work of Dogs


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About the Author

Jon Katz has written twelve books - six novels and six work of nonfictions. A two-time finalist for the National Magazine Award, he has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, and Wired. He is a contributing editor to public radio's Marketplace and to Bark magazine. A member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, he lives in northern New Jersey with his wife, Paula Span, a reporter for The Washington Post; their college-student daughter, Emma Span; and their two dogs. Katz is working on his next book, which is about women and dogs. He can be e-mailed at


In a stressful world, it is good to be reminded of the benefits of having pets, particularly dogs, in our lives. Journalist Katz's earlier works, Running to the Mountain and A Dog Year, related the emotional support that he received from his own dogs during difficult periods in his life. Here, he turns that focus outward by sharing the personal narratives of hundreds of other dog owners who have had similar experiences. Along the way, he enlightens us by offering details on the human-animal bond from behaviorists, psychologists, and others. The reader will be touched by such canine characters as Eleanor Rigby ("Ellie"), the dachshund who helps her owner navigate family issues, loneliness, withdrawal, and a move to a new community. The tale of how Saint Betty Jean, a woman dedicated to animal rescue, saves Hopeless and ultimately finds a home for her with the Schusters just might bring a tear to the reader's eye. The ladies of the Divorced Dog Club love their dogs for having all the qualities that their former spouses lacked. This work will help people get in touch with their emotional and social selves and deserves a wide readership-and a place on the best sellers list. Highly recommended for most pet collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/03.]-Edell M. Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"Deserves a blue ribbon . . . [Katz] does a terrific job of examining how dogs are handling their 'new work' serving as many a family's nurturer in chief."
--People "[Katz] writes with sensitivity about human relationships with animals."
Time "Engagingly bittersweet . . . Katz's central thesis, that dogs have moved way beyond their past work, is certainly true." --The New York Times Book Review "Humorous, compelling, and heartrending, this is a breakthrough book from one of our most talented and perceptive canine chroniclers."
AKC Gazette

Katz, a novelist and nonfiction author (A Dog Year; Geeks), here explores the bond between dogs and their owners. Focusing on 12 people-dog relationships in Montclair, N.J., and drawing on current research into attachment theory, interviews with animal workers and psychiatrists, as well as conversations with dog owners, Katz offers nuanced portraits of what happens when humans depend on dogs to satisfy their emotional needs. He contends that high divorce rates, an unstable workplace and the shrinking extended family are some of the reasons that people have come to rely on pets instead of one another during times of crisis. Donna, a divorced woman with terminal cancer, turns to her Welsh corgi for comfort and as an antidote to loneliness. In a darker portrait, Katz tells the story of Jamal, a troubled 14-year old and the owner of a pit bull whom he clearly loves, and yet beats daily. Katz also describes the laudable work of Betty Jean, who devotes her life to rescuing dogs from shelters-but who gives little attention to her grown children or grandchildren. Although Katz, a dog owner himself, appreciates the strong tie between humans and dogs, he fears that many owners use their pets as support during hard times, only to discard them later: Kate's German shepherd, for example, helped her recover from her husband's death, but she gave the dog away when she remarried. In this well-written and thoughtful account, Katz makes a convincing case that dog owners must be more self-aware and responsible when they use their pets as human substitutes. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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