|Article Author: Stacey Waspe|
If you're at all curious about the traits and quirks of our canine companions, this book's for you by Stacey Waspe
Ever wonder why pooches don't come with their own all-encompasing guides, like computers, stereos and cars? Now they do! The Dog Owner's Manual (Operating Instructions, Troubleshooting Tips, and Advice on Lifetime Maintenance) not only provides a great history of our canine pals, including an overview of different types and breeds, it answers those burning questions you've always had: Why does Fifi torment the cat? How do I get Fido to catch a frisbee? Trouble with "unauthorized downloads?" See the section on house-training to learn what to do. The manual comes complete with step-by-step instructions, detailed diagrams as well as chapters on feeding (Fuel Requirements), grooming (Exterior Maintenance), and training (Basic Programming). By celebrated veterinarian Dr. David Brunner and acclaimed author Sam Stall, the Dog Owner's Manual offers helpful advice for new and experienced dog owners alike.
The Dog Owner's Manual is a fun read and full of laugh-out-loud humor. Whether you've had pampered pooches for years or you're new to the joys of a canine companion, this is one owner's manual you'll read from cover to cover.
We recently spoke with Sam Stall, co-author of The Dog Owner's Manual, about his quirky, fun and informative book.
pp:The Dog Owner's Manual is fun to read and packed full of great tips. What was the inspiration for the book?
ss: The idea was to create something that was both useful and fun to read. We figured modeling a dog book after an owner's manual-complete with a mock-technical writing style and lots of "jargon"-would be an interesting way to present everything from house-training tips to advice on what sort of dog food to buy.
pp:How does your book differ from other guides for dog owners?
ss: I think the humor is the big difference. Also, the clarity. This book is supposed to be amusing, but it also imparts plenty of useful information in a very user-friendly way. For instance, instead of going on endlessly about how to teach a dog how to play "fetch," we explain the entire thing with an easy-to-follow, four-step diagram.
pp:How did you determine the type of information needed in a "beginner's guide to canine technology?"
ss: We designed this book to be of use even to an absolute novice. With that in mind, we made sure that no bit of information, no matter how simple, was left out. We explained where dogs came from; how they grow; even why they're afraid of thunderstorms and tend to bark when you talk on the phone. We wanted to make sure that anyone whoread the book came away with a working knowledge of canines.
pp:The illustrations are fantastic. How did the design of the book influence your writing?
ss: I think the design greatly enhanced the book by making it look like a true "owner's manual." The work was done by Paul Kepple and Jude Buffum of Philadelphia-based Headcase Design, who also did the two other books in this series, The Baby Owner's Manual and The Cat Owners' Manual (which was also created by myself and Dr. Brunner). I particularly enjoy the Jack Russell terrier on the cover-and the rabid Shih Tzu no page 163.
pp:Who can benefit from this book?
ss: I honestly think it's a great resource for any first-time dog owner. We've actually had a couple of breed rescue groups purchase copies to hand out with each dog that they place. I think that's a really good statement about the utility of the book.
pp:If readers take away one tip or lesson from the book, what should it be?
ss: Ironically, it's something that flies in the face of the very concept of the piece. The thing that makes this project different from other dog books is that it talks about canines as if they were a consumer item. But if you read the text, we repeatedly make the point that dogs are living, breathing individuals who shouldn't be treated like just another acquisition. Too many people purchase dogs on the spur of the moment, without realizing how much work is required to care for them. Or they acquire a "status" breed such as the Weimaraner or Jack Russell Terrier, without bothering to learn if the dog's personality and physical needs mesh with their lifestyles. As you and I both know, such dogs often end up abandoned at animal shelters. If people take away only one thing from The Dog Owner's Manual, I hope it's an understanding that getting a canine is a big decision that shouldn't be taken lightly.
pp:What's been the most rewarding part of writing this book?
ss: It's been a great opportunity to learn about dogs in-depth. Also, it's given me a gold-plated excuse to talk to people all over the country about canines. I'm using what I've learned to write a breed guide called The Good, the Bad, and the Furry, which comes out next spring from Quirk Books. I like to call it a breed guide with bite, because it discusses not just the good points of various dog varieties, but their bad points as well. The idea is, once again, to give laymen a clear picture of just what they're getting into when they adopt a particular breed. If it helps people make more informed decision about what, when, and whether, to adopt, I'll be very happy.
pp:There has been a lot of interest in dogs and dog-related books in the past few years. Why is "everything dog" so popular now?
ss: I think it's because so many people see their dogs as part of the family. Just a couple of decades ago, there were plenty of people who wouldn't have dreamed of letting their dog in the house. Now lots of people sleep with their dogs-and spend small fortunes on their dog beds, health and upkeep. Truly, many owners see them not as pets, but as family. And in many cases, it's the only family they have.
pp:We've heard that you have some pampered pooches of your own. Tell us a little about your dogs.
ss: At the Stall house, we have several rules about the sorts of dogs we take in. They have to be mutts; they have to be strays or animal shelter inmates; and they have to be adults. Gracie, our 35-pound terrier mix, came from Animal Control. She was found wandering around downtown Indianapolis with five puppies in tow. The puppies were all adopted, but when we found Gracie she was all alone in a cage, with only 48 hours to go until she was to be euthanized. Our other dog, a tiny, 15-year-old terrier mix named Katie, was originally my wife's. She still refers to her as her "dog daughter." And just last winter we lost Tippy, another terrier mix that my wife found running loose, many years ago. She lived to be 18 years old.
pp:As an experienced dog owner, what did you learn working with Dr. David Brunner?
ss: I learned that I don't want to be a vet. Those people work way too hard. But seriously, it was interesting to talk to someone who has handled pretty much any breed you care to name-and usually in great numbers.
pp:Were your experiences with your own dogs inspirations for particular sections of the book?
ss: Not really. However, the dogs did have input on the project. The book galleys I sent back to Quirk were inevitably covered with dog hair.
pp:How successful have you been with your own dogs' "basic programming?"
ss: Our dogs are complete heathens. They beg at the table, bark incessantly if the spirit moves them, obey no commands (except for "come"), and will lick and jump on anyone who comes to visit. You know the old saying, "those who can't do, teach?" That's me.