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Dog Food for Thought among classics back at upcoming book sale

I don’t buy a lot of books at the Friends of the Library annual book sale. I rent a pile of them. Read them through, then bring them back for the next sale. I’m usually on the lookout for Scandinavian mysteries and interesting cookbooks. My friend Norm MacLeod, the former chief librarian, is always keen to find me some odd and quirky titles.
Last year, I stocked up on a load of dog books. You know the ones. Classics like Dog Food for Thought and Dog Naps for Dummies. I had found myself in pressing need to know how to stop a companion from becoming a four-pawed adversary.
Most were good books, as you can soon discover. They’ll be back on the table when the sale gets going again a week from tomorrow.
The need arose because it was a year ago today that we brought young Charlie home from the farm. He’d been born at the end of July into a Mennonite kennel somewhere on the other side of Wallenstein. Our daughter loaned us one of those wire crates to hold him on his first car journey. It was on the back seat, and he sat in it a bit timidly. He wasn’t at all sure what was in store for him. We were equally unsure about what lay ahead for us.
We soon found out. Partway through Elmira he threw up. I would never have believed such a tiny animal could contain such a volume of sour-smelling substances. He did, and it was all over the blanket on the bottom of the crate. So began our adventure and education together.
I was never a pet person. There were no dogs or cats in the family growing up. Soon after arriving in Guelph 41 years ago I got a puppy for my first-born son. We were living on Eramosa Road at the time, close to Arthur Street.
One day young Milkwood got away from us and ran into traffic. That was the end of him. There were a couple of other tries over the next few years, none successful. That was the end of me and dogs, until this time last year.
Now I feel the benefit of taking walks. Charlie brings me out of the house and around the block a couple of times a day. That can’t be bad.
Dog walking is a community thing. I have come to know more people in our neighbourhood during the past year than in the previous eleven. You get to know the dogs first. Then, while they are cheerfully sniffing each other’s bums, you begin to chat.
As Charlie got friendly with Mickey, Charles, Chaz, Ollie, Joey, Rosie and others, we got to know their owners. Some of the nicest folk in town are holding the end of a dog leash. Most of them stay in a better mood if your dog knows how to behave itself. A puppy with more energy than manners doesn’t make a good first impression.
The books were a help, but it’s well worth the time, money and effort to go through a training program. There are lots of options. All are good, as long as you realize they aren’t designed to train the dog. They teach the owners to know what words and signals will produce the results they want.
Charlie won’t be going to the book sale with me next week. He plans to stay home and study more about the feeding habits of squirrels. His well-chewed, dog-eared copy of The Secret Life of Dogs could be on a table for you.

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