Friday, January 13, 2012

The Puppy Diaries

Jill Abramson, the author of this memoir, is a respected investigative reporter who now serves as the first woman executive editor of The New York Times. She was recently the subject of a 12 page article in The New Yorker (October 24, 2011), as well as featured guest on the CBS Sunday Morning Program, October 15, 2011.

Articles about Jill Abramson often cite her tough and sometimes abrupt style. But her book, The Puppy Diaries, clearly shows Ms. Abramson's softer, maternal side. Scout, named after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird, is a "Marleyesque" white golden retriever. Just about every sort of mischief that a puppy could get into attracts Scout. And as she grows into adolescence, these problems start to compound themselves.

What is unique about this book is its journalistic detail. Not only does it include a comprehensive bibliography, but Abramson documents, step by step, her often futile attempts to train Scout. She elaborates on the various schools of thought (positive reinforcement clicker method vs. the pack leader approach advocated by Cesar Millan). Abramson details everything a potential dog owner should know, from the adoption process (breeders vs. shelters) to the myriad choices of food (raw diet, gluten-free, table scraps). She also reveals much about grieving for a former pet and learning to love what seems, at times, "the replacement."

I had not forgotten Buddy," she writes after a year of mixed feelings, "but he was now the dog that had been my ideal companion for a different, earlier time. Watching Scout play in the snow..., I knew that I had finally passed my test: I had completely given my heart to her. (p. 233)

Jill Abramson has written an endearing memoir that captures the humbling experience of training a puppy. Whether you are a dog owner, prospective dog owner, or simply a lover of The New York Times, this book will be of interest.

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