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The Custom of the Country
Edith Wharton, Linda Wagner-Martin
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Leo Tolstoy, Alymer Maude, Louise Maude

The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by Its Behavior

The Perfect Puppy : How To Choose Your Dog By Its Behavior - Benjamin L. Hart, Lynette A. Hart description

It’s hard not to feel sorry for the Miniature Schnauzer...

Unless you're on the lookout for a dog possessing the perfect qualities to guard your SS headquarters, the Miniature Schnauzer does not fare well in the Harts' ranking system. In the The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog By Its Behavior, Benjamin and Lynette Hart assess 36 common dog breeds by using 13 parameters: excitability, general activity, snapping at children, excessive barking, playfulness, obedience training, watchdog barking, aggression toward other dogs, dominance over owner, territorial defense, demand for affection, destructiveness, ease of housebreaking.

On the opposite end of the scale is the bloodhound, who according to the chart, possesses almost no affect whatsoever. The authors recommended the breed for anyone wanting a decorative doormat.

I had a real need for this book. Our first dog, not one of the breeds discussed in this book, chomped its way through our possessions, including the interior of a new Toyota, and laughed at any attempts to restrain her. At one point, I went to a local hardware store, and had to go down into their lower level--the testosterone mothership--to get a large chain to hold our monster dog. The fellow who waited on me was amused. Finally, he chose a chain and said, condescendingly, "Here, little lady; I think this chain will be strong enough to hold 'Fido'." The next day, I rather enjoyed returning and telling the asshat clerk, "Whoops. Looks like Fido's going to need a bigger chain."

However, while our dog provided plenty of funny stories to tell our friends, living with this dog was not always pleasant. Before we we chose dog no. 2, I picked up this book. At that point we had four very young children, and we wanted a family dog.

According to the book, the dogs with the best profiles for families (easy to train, not territorial, affectionate, not a biter, etc.) were the Golden Retriever, Labrador, and Australian Shepherd. I'm not so sure about the Australian Shepherd, but our golden has been a winner. Of course, at about the same time, I also bought a book on dog training and got in touch with my alpha side, which apparently I have in abundance. According to my kids, I've turned our pets into tools, which, considering that we also have a cat, is quite an accomplishment.

The book is worthwhile if you're looking for a puppy, and I'd also recommend golden retrievers (which you can get from rescue agencies as well). They are loving dogs, who don't require the kind of Gestapo training that might have worked for our first dog.

Disclaimer: Pretty much any dog, with proper training, will be fine. However, as our experience with our first dog demonstrated, it helps to choose a dog that's not going to dominate you.