Don’t Dump the Dog offers practical advice for solving behavior problems of dogs, along with lots of laughs and a few tears. Randy Grimm is well-qualified to write this collection of stories and solutions, given that he’s devoted two decades of his life to rescuing street dogs and operates the well-known Stray Rescue in Missouri. As with the biography written about him by Melinda Roth, Don’t Dump the Dog will also make you at least a little mad.
This opening chapter sets the stage for how the rest of the book is laid out, being hilarious in setup and style, practical in advice about how to channel the energy of an A.D.D. dog, and poignant in showing just how deep the emotional needs of stray rescued dogs can be. After sharing the owner’s letter, which states that he wants to return his dog due to being too hyper, Grimm goes on to talk about how he probably should have responded more politely but… The evening before a dog had went into labor and so Grimm had spent the night ensuring the pups were all born okay. On top of that, most of the volunteers had called in sick—Grimm suspected they weren’t sick but instead avoiding having to deal with a terrier who smelled of skunk. As telephones rang, the coffeemaker overflowed, and kenneled dogs barked for breakfast, in walks the owner of the A.D.D. dog. Grimm walks off with the dog to find a holding area, leaving the owner to handle the computer, the phones, and other interruptions. While not all chapters are equal, many like this one made me laugh and think, while also rewarding me with a happy end. The owner decides not only to keep his own dog but he also adopts a companion for her.
With regards to practical advice, I particularly appreciated the ones on aggressive and submissive dogs. In each case, Grimm overviews the origins of dogs, and explains how why some dogs might attack or defecate in the house. His explanations make all too clear how carefully owners need to be the type of dog they pick. Finding oneself with bullies and crybabies will obviously bring challenges, which dog owners need to be prepared to handle them. Otherwise that’s when a dog who has already faced a lot of trauma in its life will end up being abandoned at a shelter, which no matter how well-run it is, can’t help but scare a dog simply by not being a home. Instead of dumping their dog, owners instead should turn to books such as those by dog experts such as Randy Grimm to find advice on how to manage their unruly “child”. I won’t give away all his advice here, but just enough to tantalize you. For example, when it comes to dogs who try to dominate, teaching them through the command “SIT” who is in charge of their food and other resources is a good start. When it comes to dogs who are more subservient, Grimm is a huge fan of bringing out hot dogs and helping them associate pleasure with what scares them.
As for why the book will make you mad, foremost, far too many of these stories will make you realize how cavalier or even abusive the attitude of some dog owners are. The losers are the dogs who end up strays. While many of them will end up finding forever homes and adjusting well, some will never be whole again because of how their owner deserted or abused them, which breaks my heart. With regards to the latter, Grimm mostly focuses on how to help those dogs as well as commends those who will work with them. As for the cavalier attitude, there are few situations more upsetting than owners who bring their dog to the shelter simply because it can no longer see, hear, or walk well. In all other ways, the dog is often perfect. The dog is more than likely housebroken, probably gets along with neighborhood dogs, and might even have passed obedience class. Yet the dog is being traded for a puppy, like one might trade an old car for a new model. While Grimm does offer practical advice in situations like these, he spends just as much time on a soapbox.
Each chapter of Don’t Dump the Dog starts with a letter from a pet owner, which voices a complaint and ends with the request for a date of when the owner can return his/her dog to Grimm’s rescue. After each letter is a response from Grimm, generally never sent, which are mostly funny but occasionally are bitchy in their sarcasm. The remainder of each chapter tells the story of the dog in question, maybe something about the owner, and offers some advice. While the usefulness of each chapter varies, overall this is a must-have guide. From dealing with a noisy dog to one that bites, Grimm covers a wide variety of situations that many owners face at one time or another, and offers humor along with sound advice.
My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.
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