“Change loves me, defines and stalks me like a laser-guided smart bomb. It comes at me in all forms, suddenly and with enormous impact, from making shifts in work to having and raising a kid to buying a cabin on a distant mountaintop. Sometimes, change comes on four legs.”
In his popular and widely praised Running to the Mountain, Jon Katz wrote of the strength and support he found in the massive forms of his two yellow Labrador retrievers, Julius and Stanley. When the Labs were six and seven, a breeder who’d read his book contacted Katz to say she had a dog that was meant for him—a two-year-old border collie named Devon, well bred but high-strung and homeless. Katz already had a full canine complement, but instinct overruled reason, and soon thereafter he brought Devon home.
A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me is the story of how Devon and Jon—and Julius and Stanley—came to terms with each other. It shows how a man discovered a lot about himself through one dog (and then another) whose temperament seemed as different from his own as day is from night. It is a story of trust and understanding, of life and death, of continuity and change. It is by turns insightful, hilarious, and deeply moving.
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Jon Katz's Going Home.
The story line of Katz's latest book can be summed up very simply two dogs die and two new ones join the family but its charm comes from an intricate blend of witty anecdote and touching reflection. Katz (Geeks, Virtuous Reality) has shared his affection for years with two low-maintenance Labs, whose "chosen work was to reflect on the state of the world, lick neighborhood kids, and accompany through midlife." So it is somewhat surprising that he next adopts a frenetic and demanding border collie he occasionally refers to as "Helldog." His life turned upside down; his writing schedule disrupted, he learns to center his life around a dog's needs rather than vice versa. After adopting the homeless Devon, Katz adopts his second border collie, Homer, because Oprah Winfrey urges him to. (He appears on her show for his book about his Labs, Running to the Mountain.) He's fallen in love with the breed's intelligence and curiosity. In fact, both breeds seem to touch something in his soul the Lab his centered, peaceful side; the border collie his troubled side. Over the course of the year, Katz reflects on the importance of devotion to and understanding of any animal taken into the home; ways to live peacefully with border collies; and even the problems of midlife crisis. "Once in a great while," he muses, "the right person is fortunate enough to get the right dog, to have time to take care of it, to connect with it in a profound way."