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by Warren Eckstein with Denise Madden

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-449-91123-3
Publisher: Ballantine

An uninspired autobiography from animal psychologist/behaviorist/communicator Eckstein (Understanding Your Pet, 1986, etc.), whose destiny was sealed by a rat. As a tyke in suburban Long Island, N.Y., Eckstein befriended a rat; his folks, marvel of marvels, allowed him to keep it. Eckstein had found his calling: “I believe I was put here to help bridge the gap between people and animals.” He enjoyed, he believes, a telepathy allowing him to “talk” with animals, to read their “parapsychology and body language.” From there, it wasn’t long before he and his new wife ran their first advertisement in a local paper——We’ll Teach Your Dog Yiddish for $15”—and started to put into practice their particular brand of animal training, one that encourages getting down on all fours and communing with the pet, ladling on the hugs and kisses, treating the creatures with respect and dignity and the love accorded any family member. But technique is not the thrust of this book, which is a pity. Rather, Eckstein concentrates on his rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, his numerous guest appearances on David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, and the Mickey Mouse Club, his radio show and personalized brand of pet products. He clearly wants his readers to be impressed by all this, but he affects an aloofness that is blazingly insincere. Amid the mostly underwhelming personal details (although the loss of his first wife is a powerful episode), Eckstein does offer up some anecdotal material—the dog taught to gamble for high stakes, the mongoose that left one of Eckstein’s fingers hanging by a thread, his days as a peace officer with a humane group—that will give readers a taste of what this book might have had to offer. Only dyed-in-the-wool Eckstein fanatics will find any reason to plow through this starstruck memoir. (b&w photos)