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The Dogs of Bedlam Farm: An Adventure with…

The Dogs of Bedlam Farm: An Adventure with Sixteen Sheep, Three Dogs, Two…

by Jon Katz

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While this story is appealing with its focus on how the author used his love for his dogs to help him get his life on track, I found it repetitive in places and it never really captured my interest. I am an animal lover and I enjoyed the interaction between dog and human. An easy read. ( )
  suztales | May 30, 2015 |
You don't have to be a dog lover to appreciate this book by Jon Katrz. Because although this is a book about the dogs in Jon's life, it is also about his life and his search for a means of becoming the person he wants to be. Katz's search for insight gives the reader perspective into what is required of us as we attempt to become a useful player, participating in our own lives. Many of his moments of awareness begin when he is working with one of his beloved Border Collies, but he also benefits from relationships with his helpful neighbors and his sister, who he sees for the first time in years in the course of writing this book.
I enjoyed reading this book so much I plan to read the others he has written. His need to become the best person he can be is given a jump-start in the course of caring for his dogs. He recognizes that in order to help them he needs to develop patience, tolerance, and understanding. The dogs don't respond in positive ways when he is impatient with them. He feels responsible not only for their physical welfare but also for their lives as well-adjusted dogs, capable of enjoying purpose in their lives, and returning the love they are given. Border Collies have a high work drive and when kept as pets they often become destructive. Jon not only sees the benefit in working his Border Collies for their sake, but learns how to take care of his farm for his own sake also. As a reader, you will enjoy the ups and downs of Katzs' life as he tries to give his dogs the best possible lives and at the same time run a farm. What he learns from his dogs helps him to run his farm and maintain decent relationships with his neighbors. HIghly recommended. ( )
  mmignano11 | Dec 9, 2012 |
A very special book. Like most of his books cause for tears and laughter but also much more. His books are about far more than just dogs. To say what that is would be to possibly do him an injustice by spoiling it for the reader. Suffice to say that what the reader discovers is truly a special treasure.

Everyone gets 'credit' for reading other possibly 'weightier and well known' tomes but this has a special value that for those who listen to will hear and experience profoundly and gratefully. ( )
  Urquhart | Jan 21, 2010 |
I had just finished the previous book of his about Devon/Orson and his two labs. I really enjoyed it and was looking forward to the follow up. Unfortunately I didn't enjoy this one at all. First of all, the first 50 pages or so made little to no mention of the dogs and was primarily about his move to the farm and the new town he's living in. I was giving the book about 50 pages or so and I was going to not finish it if he never came back to the animals. Just about that time he focused back on the dogs. He talks quite a bit about how much his dogs mean to him, how he loves the sheep he brought to the farm (even at one point about how he had a vet perform surgery on an injured sheep when others in the community told him he should have just put it down) and how he's so attached to Carol the donkey. Yet then I came to the chapter about a cat that was on the property and the bottom line is he shot the cat with a rifle because it had tangled with the dogs one time too many. At that point I put the book down immediately, because as a cat lover I don't think that was at all necessary. I'm sure there are people who could justify his actions but I think there other options that could have been looked at without having to resort to killing that poor animal. ( )
  patrish | Sep 2, 2008 |
The Dogs of Bedlam Farm, by Jon Katz, is a likable read about the author's first year of being a hobby farmer raising a few sheep. Katz tries to learn more about himself by looking at how he works with his dogs. With references to St. Augustine coupled to descriptions of first-time farmer antics, it seemed to me Katz was trying to go in too many directions at once. However, as a dog owner and closet wanna-be farmer, I also enjoyed Katz's descriptions of trying to fit into his rural community, his first forays into herding, and his obvious deep love of his dogs. ( )
  Talbin | Sep 17, 2007 |
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To Anthony Armstrong
"A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Far in the distance, as the morning mists began to clear, I could see a livestock trailer heading west on Route 30 from Salem toward the hamlet of West Hebron.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812972503, Paperback)

“Dogs are blameless, devoid of calculation, neither blessed nor cursed with human motives. They can’t really be held responsible for what they do. But we can.”
–from The Dogs of Bedlam Farm

When Jon Katz adopted a border collie named Orson, his whole world changed. Gone were the two yellow Labs he wrote about in A Dog Year, as was the mountaintop cabin they loved. Katz moved into an old farmhouse on forty-two acres of pasture and woods with a menagerie: a ram named Nesbitt, fifteen ewes, a lonely donkey named Carol, a baby donkey named Fanny, and three border collies.

Training Orson was a demanding project. But a perceptive dog trainer and friend told Katz: “If you want to have a better dog, you will just have to be a better goddamned human.” It was a lesson Katz took to heart. He now sees his dogs as a reflection of his willingness to improve, as well as a critical reminder of his shortcomings. Katz shows us that dogs are often what we make them: They may have their own traits and personalities, but in the end, they are mirrors of our own lives–living, breathing testaments to our strengths and frustrations, our families and our pasts.

The Dogs of Bedlam Farm recounts a harrowing winter Katz spent on a remote, windswept hillside in upstate New York with a few life-saving friends, ugly ghosts from the past, and more livestock than any novice should attempt to manage. Heartwarming, and full of drama, insight, and hard-won wisdom, it is the story of his several dogs forced Katz to confront his sense of humanity, and how he learned the places a dog could lead him and the ways a doge could change him.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:37 -0400)

Author of A dog year, recounts his experiences with his three border collies. Discoveries about the relationship between dogs and humans.

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