A GOOD DOG by Jon Katz


The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life


Katz concludes the canine love story he began in A Dog Year (2002).

Border collie Devon was a misfit from the moment he arrived at the Katz household in New Jersey. He tried to herd garbage trucks, snowplows, buses, kids on skateboards. After months of attempting to discipline the high-strung pup, Katz took him to train with Carolyn, an animal behaviorist and sheepherder. She observed that to Devon, the world made no sense. She also noted the pup was terrified of his own name; thus, Devon became “Orson.” Realizing that the dog would never adapt to suburban New Jersey, Katz pulled up stakes and relocated to a farm in upstate New York. There, Orson found a measure of tranquility alongside Rose, a disciplined border collie; Clementine, a sweet Lab puppy; and Winston, a rooster with “Patton-like authority.” While Rose herded sheep, Orson made Katz his work. The dog sat quietly while his owner wrote, and the two took moonlit walks to observe Sirius, the dog star. On an all-terrain vehicle, they daily patrolled the farm—and, illegally, the surrounding town. While he wasn’t perfect, he was Katz’s once-in-a-lifetime dog. “Orson helped me, deep into my sixth decade, to stay open, to not shut down,” he writes. But suddenly the dog began to nip visitors and, worse, bite them. As his violence escalated, the once-skeptical Katz embraced every available treatment: traditional veterinary medicine, New Age acupuncturists, even an animal shaman. Orson became more aggressive, and Katz faced a terrible decision: Is it morally right to keep a dog that poses a danger to others?

A heartbreaking memoir of love, friendship and responsibility.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 2006
ISBN: 1-4000-6189-X
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2006


Nonfiction FOLLOWING ATTICUS by Tom Ryan
by Tom Ryan
Nonfiction ALL MY PATIENTS KICK AND BITE by Jeff Wells
by Jeff Wells
Nonfiction A DOG’S HISTORY OF AMERICA by Mark Derr
by Mark Derr
Nonfiction HOW THE DOG BECAME THE DOG by Mark Derr
by Mark Derr


NonfictionTHE SECOND-CHANCE DOG by Jon Katz
by Jon Katz
FictionDANCING DOGS by Jon Katz
by Jon Katz
NonfictionGOING HOME by Jon Katz
by Jon Katz


IndieMY LIFE WITH SNOOPY by Joey Camen
by Joey Camen
NonfictionTHE PUPPY DIARIES by Jill Abramson
by Jill Abramson
NonfictionTHE $60,000 DOG by Lauren Slater
by Lauren Slater