Full disclosure: I know and like Edie Jarolim, the author of this book. We met through Twitter, and finally laid eyes on each other at the BlogPaws conference in April. This review, therefore, might be tinged with affection for a smart and funny lady with an adorable dog — or it might not. I was an English major, and when I get a book in one hand and a pencil in the other, I become unrecognizably stern.
Am I Boring My Dog? is a book every dog owner, or wanna-be dog owner, should have. My husband and I stumbled through the process of finding our spaniel Chloe, bringing her home, finding food she’d tolerate, training (and house-training) her, and learning to spend our days together. It was fun, nearly always, but it wasn’t pretty. I’d bought some books that stood us in good stead (the Idiot’s Guide to Positive Dog Training, and the entire Patricia McConnell oeuvre), but I didn’t see this one. That’s a pity, because Jarolim steps you through the trickiest bits of dog ownership with precision but also with humor and understanding.
The book is organized as 100 questions-and-answers, grouped into sensible categories (starting with “So you think you want a dog” and ending with “Loose ends — and endings”). It’s short — under 250 pages — and can be read during a long plane flight or over the course of a few evenings. It is, however, remarkably thorough. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year and a half traveling with Chloe and writing about dog travel, so I paid particular attention to Chapter 8 (“Fun and games on the road”). I was truly impressed with the amount of information Jarolim packed in to the chapter, and the good sense of her answers to the questions we all have about vacationing with our dog (and about identifying a reliable caregiver for our dog, when she just can’t travel with us).
I also loved how Jarolim presents even the most tedious and painful dog-care issues with humor and wisdom. She has a deft hand with puns, and a down-to-earth sense of what’s appropriate and what’s ridiculous that leavens even the heaviest dough (like getting health insurance for your dog, or learning how to brush your dog’s teeth — or ensuring that your dog is cared for in the event of your incapacitation or death).
My only complaint is trivial, but since I am a stern critic I’ll say it: I wish this book had a different cover. I love the cartoon of the bored dog, and the book titles are a hoot, but they’d be better suited to a book of knock-knock jokes than to what Jarolim has written — a really useful, sensible, and intelligently funny guide to dog ownership.