Charming Story

A review for 'From Wolf to Supermutt', by Alya G

Talking with my sister the other day, we reckoned together that our family has never been without a dog in our life. Not a single time. Wherever we've lived, all the places we've moved to, in all the houses we've lived, urban, suburban, and rural, we've always had a furry member of the family. That was a heartwarming realisation, and also explains why I simply can't envision a household without a pet.

They've been all sorts of peculiar, our doggies. Some were small, others big, some hairy, others barely had any hair, some were ugly, some beautiful, some purchased, some adopted, some male and others female. And what tempers and personalities they had! They've run the gamut from shy and lazy to adventurous and startlingly smart. We fondly remember especially that police dog adopted by us when her cop partner retired, who never forgot her police training and appointed herself nanny-bodyguard to my siblings; the dog we had since I was born who was part of a canine duo that patrolled our farmland on their own and who died from heartbreak just days after my dad passed away; my first puppy, who got lost one day and had me and my cousin frantically looking for her throughout the city during a heavy rainstorm; and our last dog before our current one, a smart pup that could sniff out drug addicts and all sorts of shady people that would be later revealed to have criminal records and would have to be physically restrained from attacking them. Our current dog will likely be on our Doggie Hall of Fame eventually, because she's kind of a legend already. Why? She nurses cats, for one. Yes, seriously! She nursed and raised the cat, and we've not told her cross-species mothering isn't exactly normal, she doesn't care.

So, with such a personal background in oddball pets, I couldn't but request Erika K. Gösi's book the moment I saw it. Part memoir, part canine behaviour manual, From Wolf to Supermutt and Everything in Between chronicles the author's experience with trying to understand and correct doggie behaviour out of love as much as practical necessity, when she adopted a rescue dog that would display disconcerting behaviours Gösi couldn't explain. Not finding a canine behaviour specialist that would help her understand her pup's weird habits and correct them with training, she had to educate herself on the topic by herself, reading so much and so extensively she became a dog behaviour expert herself. Now, she's sharing her knowledge in this book, so the rest of dog owners and dog lovers in general can learn, too.

I have read expert books on canine psychology before, and they're dry and full of technical and scientific lingo. Not this one; it's accessible, written in understandable language, and narrated conversationally, as if you're being talked to, and full of anecdotes (the memoir part) that illustrate the scientific points. The behaviour manual part is encased within the memoir/anecdotal part, so it flows well and is entertaining as it educates you. You'll learn a summed up overview of the evolution of dogs, and comprehensible explanations for their behaviour, the normal, the quirky, and the downright destructive ones alike, divided in sections that make it easy to revisit later for a quick refresher if your pup starts behaving in a way you're puzzled at and you need to remember why; all well peppered with the author's experience raising the dogs she's had throughout her life.

I enjoyed this combo of pet-lover memoir and animal psychology, and I recognised a few behaviours in my own dog and the dogs of friends and relatives, too. I only wish Gösi had paid the "dog tax" and included pictures of her pups she talks so much and lovingly about. I don't know if this absence of photos is because this is an ARC and the published version will have them, but I really missed them and hope they will be included on publication. 4.5 stars!

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