Book Review: “Don’t Give Up On That Dog.” by Denine Phillips.

Posted: May 28, 2012 in "Don't give up on that dog", At Home with dogs., Choosing a German Shepherd., Dog Book Reviews

In my constant effort to keep up on the very best “Dog-Centric” writing, the part I look forward to most is finding a new story-teller with a fresh voice.  “Don’t Give Up On That Dog” by Denine Phillips is one of these books!

The most endearing part of this informative story, is that Denine lets her own doubts and small misgivings come through. She never claims the title of “Dog-Trainer”, or “Behavior Expert” A German Shepherd is a real handful as a puppy, and her first-time status as an owner is the center piece of her writing.   During an encounter with a trainer of Seeing-eye Dogs, and her yellow-Lab trainee, the author wonders what she has gotten herself into, choosing a German Shepherd.  A feeling common among first time GSD owners.

Her honest writing style records her mistakes, while at the same time, re-enforcing her drive to raise a well-trained and behaved dog.  She also tells a heart-rending story of Cooper becoming trapped by the door of his crate, and her frantic effort to free him.  Every story she tells is used as a lesson for every dog owner.  Her voice is never heavy handed, but is always self-deprecating and eager to share “what I did,so you don’t repeat it”.   It’s beautiful to see such work written by someone that doesn’t place her educational accomplishments prominently for her readers to plainly see.  There’s no ego in her writing that would put off everyday dog owners.  She never claims expertise, but her experience is used as a virtual classroom for all dog owners.

Another common obsession among German Shepherd owners has always been fully erect ears, and Denise’s new puppy, “Cooper” has a somewhat lazy,  though completely endearing, set of ears.  The efforts to correct the problem lead to a wonderful conclusion, that all dog owners obsessed with “appearance” should take to heart.

“Don’t Give Up On That Dog” is also outstanding in the neutral tone taken regarding training.  So often today, new authors become militant in whatever method they employ, and that schtick has become cloying at least.  Trainers from Cesar Millan to Victoria Stilwell, to Br. Christopher Savage (Monks of New Skete) to Patricia McConnell are quoted and respected.  Phillips doesn’t preach or proselytize any method stridently, preffering to focus on the end result.  Her end results have been outstanding as well, as her dog Cooper is today, a VERY accomplished dog.

Whether or not Denine Phillips ever writes another dog book, (Which I hope she does!)should doesn’t let on.   By the time she does, the title “expert” just might be fitting. This one should be in every conscientious dog-owners library.  It’s sad, funny, informative, easily read, and encouraging.  You can be successful in raising your own dog by following the experiences shared here so simply, and positively.   


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