Book Reviews

The Art of Raising a Puppy by Monks of New Skete

The Art of Raising a PuppyTitle: The Art of Raising a Puppy
Author: Monks of New Skete
Rating: ★★★

What of ourselves? In actuality the monk’s journey is everyone’s journey, though in our frenetic world of activity and distraction we often miss the fact that we are also desert wanderers. Who or what leads us? In this day and age, we are dangerously out of touch with the nonhuman world around us, leaving our hearts dulled and our vision blurred. Nothing impresses us anymore, and we travel farther into a disharmonious cavern of individualism, with ourselves as guides. We arrogantly “process” reality through preconceived notions that are sterile and cold. Our world is stripped of a profound and compelling mystery.

Some of you may be wondering why my blog is named “Synopses by Sarge” when my name is Nikki. For those of you that are close to me, you’ll know it is because of recent acquisition of my new best friend and companion, Sarge, also know as my black German Shepherd puppy (Christmas picture of Sarge from the breeder shown below).IMG_5846

The Art of Raising a Puppy is the second novel I have read written by the Monks of New Skete (How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend being the first). The first was recommended by my breeder and I am so grateful for the recommendation. Surprisingly not super technical in verbage (I expected the writing to be insufferably proper), the ease with which all new owners can read and learn about the proper technique for raising a puppy was pleasant and fulfilling.

Learning the value of silence is learning to listen to, instead of screaming at, reality: opening your mind enough to find what the end of someone else’s sentence sounds like, or listening to a dog until you discover what is needed instead of imposing yourself in the name of training.

Having had a dog present in my life for all but four months (the time between the death of a previous dog and receiving a new generation of doggy life), I became attune to the “myths” of training. Granted, all of my family’s previous dogs were well-behaved, I have come across dogs who didn’t possess these same qualities: piddling in excitement of new people, greeting by jumping up, and bad reception to recall to name a few. By reading this novel, I learned that to really train your dog to be a part of your every day life successfully, you need to understand your dog. Sounds easy, but it is actually quite difficult. We may interpret behaviors based on what we have heard previously and act in accordance with that way, when, in reality, the way we act has the complete opposite effect.

For example, I mentioned earlier the piddling in excitement or submission at the greeting of owners or when meeting new people. From reading the words of wisdom by the Monks of New Skete, I interpreted this very act wrong from what I have heard in the past having seen this as a dog being over-excited. A very submissive dog will piddle at the feet of his owner or someone new as a sign of submission. This could be a reaction from the way we approach the dog, with high-pitched voices or looming above the dog. A way to infringe upon this is to crouch down with arms wide open, or to have the dog sit as we greet our friend. A dog is less likely to piddle while sitting as it is uncomfortable for them.

Overall, this novel was a great refresher to read before getting another best friend and companion (it’s been 13 and a half years since my last puppy). Not only did it teach me the basic principles of raising a puppy, but it helped me to better understand my puppy as an individual. Knowing this will create a lasting impression on both of us and strengthen our relationship with each other. I would definitely recommend this for anyone getting a puppy for the first time or if it has been a while since having a puppy.

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