A review of Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You To Know and a guest post by author Hy Conrad
Ever wondered what your dog is thinking when he gives you that look? Or when he barks like crazy at absolutely nothing? Or when he goes tearing around the yard as if his tail is on fire?
I recently read a book that explains all that and more. Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You To Know is a tell-all written by the dogs themselves, and not just a dry list of suggestions about water and food, either. Eleven different animals representing that many breeds share their world with us. Each one’s personality positively pops off the page. All of them, of course, are wonderful critters but I found myself looking eagerly forward to the next pieces by Moonbeam, Sarge, and Bandana, in particular.
Sarge the German Shepherd is a working dog, full of enthusiasm for his job – whatever it is. Smart, energetic, and ready to learn, Sarge is still baffled by many things. For example, why is marijuana called a gateway drug? “Sometimes I do find it by a gateway, yes. But more often than not it’s under a futon or on a shelf beside an X-Box.”
And Bandana addresses the ages-old question: what would a dog would do if he ever actually caught the car: “What would you do if you got to the end of that walking machine? It’s not going to happen.”
Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You To Know is informative, yes. It’s also wildly entertaining, often insightful, and easily the funniest book I’ve read in years.
Authors Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson really have a knack for interpreting dog culture! To get the Rosetta Stone of dog, check out Axelrod’s Word List (pdf).
“MY FAVORITE BREED OF DOG”
By Hy Conrad
Authors of “Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know”
Having been a mystery writer for all of my adult life (having written the TV show Monk and over a dozen mystery books), people ask me all the time about the “perfect crime.” They want to know my favorite way to kill someone, the best way to get away with murder and what’s the most ridiculous murder idea I ever came up with (I have plenty of those).
Now that I’ve written a humor book about dogs (“Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know”), people ask me a different question: What’s your favorite breed of dog.
That question is much harder.
And that’s why my co-author (Jeff Johnson) and I included stories from 11 different dogs in our book – representing 11 different breeds. From the hard-working German Shepherd to the bossy Border Collie.
Part of the fun of writing a humor book about dogs is the ability to play with the various breed-related stereotypes. Chihuahuas, people tell us, are fussy and yappy and sometimes live in a purse. Yellow Labs, other people tell us, are fun-loving but have a hard time figuring out complex realities like elevators.
We do have, we must admit, a special affinity for Miniature Schnauzers, having owned them for over 25 years. I imagine many people are like us in this respect. One gets used to a certain look and personality and that becomes your breed. Whether real, or simply imagined by their owners, different breeds have distinctly different characteristics.
The art director of the book (Dean Stefanides) approaches the breed issue quite differently. Rather than sticking to one breed at a time, Dean has several. Right now, Dean owns 2 Greyhounds, a Rottweiler, an Irish Wolfhound mix, a Pointer, a Cocker Spaniel and a Mini-Pincher. (All living with Dean and his wife in a New York City apartment).
Writing “Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know” was great fun, but when it came to creating the cover, well, that was a challenge.
We went through dozens of different designs before settling on the one everyone loved -- a Boston Terrier puppy sharing a secret with its mom. This was especially meaningful to me, since my first dog as a kid was a Boston Terrier.
After much deliberation, my sister and I named him Buster Brown after the shoes, which featured a boy named Buster and his dog Tighe. It wasn’t until later that I realized that Tighe was a pit bull puppy, not a Boston. In hindsight, it really didn’t matter, since I had actually (and inadvertently) named the dog after the boy and not his dog, anyway.
You can get a good sense of the book and all 11 different breeds by going to our website, www.ThingsYourDog.com, where you can also post your own questions about dog behavior and one of our eleven dogs will answer it for you (humorously, we hope).