People who love dogs often talk about a lifetime dog. I’d heard the phrase a dozen times before I came to recognize its significance. Lifetime dogs are dogs we love in especially powerful, sometimes inexplicable ways. Jon Katz
In this gripping and deeply touching book, bestselling author Jon Katz tells the story of his lifetime dog, Orson: a beautiful border collie, intense, smart, crazy, and unforgettable.
From the moment Katz and Orson meet, when the dog springs from his traveling crate at Newark airport and panics the baggage claim area, their relationship is deep, stormy, and loving. At two years old, Katz’s new companion is a great herder of school buses, a scholar of refrigerators, but a dud at herding sheep. Everything Katz attempts, obedience training, herding instruction, a new name, acupuncture, herb and alternative therapies,helps a little but not enough, and not for long. Like all border collies and many dogs, Katz writes, he needed work. I didn’t realize for some time I was the work Orson would find.
While Katz is trying to help his dog, Orson is helping him, shepherding him toward a new life on a two-hundred-year-old hillside farm in upstate New York. There, aided by good neighbours and a tolerant wife, hip-deep in sheep, chickens, donkeys, and more dogs, the man and his canine companion explore meadows, woods, and even stars, wade through snow, bask by a roaring wood stove, and struggle to keep faith with each other. There, with deep love, each embraces his unfolding destiny.
A Good Dog is a book to savour. Just as Orson was the author’s lifetime dog, his story is a lifetime treasure poignant, timeless, and powerful.