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Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred [Paperback]

Josh Dean
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Paperback, Jan. 30 2012 --  

Book Description

Jan. 30 2012
Journalist Josh Dean tells the story of a loveable Australian Shepherd, Jack, on his novice tour through the exciting world of professional dog showing, following Jack from his first competitions in local school gymnasiums all the way to the great granddaddy of them all, the Westminster Dog Show. A veteran journalist, Dean shines a warm, steady light on the trials that Jack and his plucky, dedicated owners come to face, and uses their story to explore the larger histories of dog shows themselves; the fascinating and sometimes bizarre history of purebred dogs; and our complex, heartfelt relationships to the pets we grow to love. For dog lovers, readers of Marley & Me, Merle’s Door, and Oogy, and fans of Best in Show, Dean’s Show Dog is an irresistible instant classic.

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Review

“A wonderful, charming look at the sport of dogs and dog shows and an absolute must read for anyone looking to get involved.” (Pat Hastings, AKC Judge and author of Tricks of the Trade)

“A hilarious chronicle of blow-dried poodles, diva trainers and egregious canine puns. Above all, though, this is an irresistible story about the wondrous bond between humans and animals.” (Mark Adams, author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu)

“Filled with heart and humor, bringing to life extravagant characters, pampered pooches, and over-the-top humans without falling prey to tired stereotypes. That’s because it’s not really about animal beauty pageants; it’s about the unyielding bond between people and dogs and what they’ll do to make each other happy.” (Jim Gorant, author of The Lost Dogs)

“As I was sucked into the story of Jack the show dog, I began to understand the subtleties of the sport, the amazing talents of these animals, and the affecting human-and canine- drama behind the show.” (John Hodgman, author of That is All)

“Fascinating and funny...as I was sucked into the story of Jack the show dog, I began to understand the subtleties of the sport, the amazing talents of these animals, and the affecting human-and canine-drama behind the show.” (John Hodgman, author of That is All)

“A well-written, entertaining and accurate look at our great sport of dog shows . . . Dean makes you feel like you are right there with a brush or a show lead in your handa . . . a great accessory for anyone who wants to know more.” (David Frei, Voice of The Westminster Kennel Club and The National Dog Show and author of Angel On A Leash)

“Terrific” (Colin McEnroe, WNPR)

“Superb” (Michael Solomon, The Guardian)

“Excellent” (Benoit Denizet-Lewis, Cesar Milan blog)

“If you don’t know your toy group from your terriers, pick up this beguiling nonfiction account that follows Jack, a lovable, handsome Australian shepherd and an aspiring Best in Show.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Show Dog is the real thing with focus, frustration, commitment, passion, ambition and a bit of celebration at times. In the process, it is remarkably informative while delivering vivid, priceless, behind-the-scenes snapshots and a few bizarre characters from small-town America to Manhattan.” (Ranny Green, Seattle Kennel Club)

“Fascinating and often very funny.” (Star magazine)

“Eccentric and really fascinating, sometimes treacherous, behind-the-grooming-stand look at the show circuit.” (Virginia Prescott, New Hampshire Public Radio)

“The literary answer to that laugh-out-loud movie Best in Show.” (Craig Wilson, USA Today)

“A spellbinding diary written by an outsider looking in, and it’s filled with intriguing observations and lessons learned. It’s also quite poignant at times. Think of the movie Best in Show and then dial it back just a hair.” (David Baker, Pet Adviser)

“Amazing, absolutely amazing. No matter how much you think you know about dog shows, this is the real deal. It’s not just the whole history, so beautifully interwoven - [Dean has] really delved in and shown this world from every possible angle, and remarkably uncritically.” (Tracie Hotchner, DogTalk Radio)

“Show Dog added greatly to my already over-the-top love for the subject.Josh has written an absorbing, intimate and good-natured journey into the making of a champion. If you’re like me, you’ll come for the dogs, but you’ll stay for the people.” (Mary Carillo, sportscaster, co-host 2012 Westminster Show)

“With Dean, curiosity reigns, making it possible to enter this subculture without the fanaticism of a disciple or the condescension of a cynic. He delivers an earnest, wry, and humorous look into what possesses people to spend nearly all their free time and money [showing dogs].” (Wendy Toth, Petside.com)

“A tale that represents the world of show dogs fairly and factually in a fashion that people outside our cloistered community will understand and appreciate. It may even persuade a few to join us.” (Billy Wheeler, Best in Show Daily)

From the Back Cover

Every weekend, for nearly fifty weeks each year, tens of thousands of Americans pack up their SUVs and minivans with crates and dryers and treats and shampoos and hairsprays and plush toys and fan out for some of the two-thousand-plus dog shows held annually across the United States. More than two million pedigreed dogs, and exponentially more humans who handle and care for them, will take part in these events—for the most part happily—and the world that has grown up to support them is massive and vibrant, and almost impossible to imagine unless you've seen it in person.

By spending a year alongside rising star Jack, a champion Australian shepherd, and his canine and human friends, magazine journalist Josh Dean yanks back the curtain on the dog show world, providing not just a hilarious and often touching portrait of a colorful subculture only slightly exaggerated in the film Best in Show, but also a revealing look at our love affair with the world's most doted-upon and tinkered-with animal species, examining the colossal array of dog types and humans who love them.

The book follows Jack as he matures over the course of a year, from still-improving adolescent to seasoned adult show dog. We get to know him and the people around him—his owner, his handler, his breeder—to experience what it's like to own a show dog and to train one. And we come to appreciate him for what he is, a lovable and intelligent house pet—albeit one with a highly unusual occupation.

Along the way, Dean takes a close look at the eccentric and fascinating world of breeders and dog show fanciers—exploring the history and science of purebred dog breeding and the evolution of canine perfection via dog show culture, with that pursuit's many related peculiarities: judging, training, naming, promoting, hairstyling, kennel-owning, RV-driving, hotel-finding, treat-selecting, and more.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read! July 1 2013
By Pi-Quin
Format:Paperback
Show Dog is an candid, truthful and enlightened glance into the world of showing dogs. The author and the main players are so real, I couldn't put this book down. The author drew me in and I cared about the outcome of all the cast of colourful characters that peopled this book.

If you have any interest in, or curiosity about dog shows, are a part of the show world or looking in from the outside, this book is worth every moment spent reading it.

Awesome!! Thanks Josh!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  86 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book for dog lovers Feb. 9 2012
By Slakkie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I show dogs, specifically Australian Shepherds and this book is spot on - funny and pretty honest about the world of dog shows. For someone not in the world of dogs it is really well written and explains a lot of the dog world in a way that the reader can understand.

Since I know many of the cast of characters I can say he was pretty spot on - I am recommending this book to anyone who likes a good read, is interested in dog shows or is a dog lover. Me and my Aussies give it Five paws up!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Show Dog" Feb. 10 2012
By Sue Forrest - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I ordered "Show Dog" after reading about it in "USA Today". I am finding it to be a delight and I hate to put it down. I have four Basset Hounds and am absolutely fascinated by the dog show world. So, "Show Dog" is both interesting and extremely informative!
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jack wins first prize Feb. 7 2012
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Using Jack Australian shepherd and his retinue as a fascinating entrance into the dog show world, Josh Dean writes a delightful look into why so many people invest so much money, emotion and time on these events. His career starts with Jack appearing to be a future superstar. Over the year we get to know him and his human team up close and personal as Jack is the ticket to help us on the outside understand what motivates so many people to participate. This includes the support elements like training, breeding, hairstyling, etc.; as Mr. Dean states that these shows keep some purebred breeds alive. Occasionally attendees like me see chaos when watching a dog show, but Mr. Dean explains it is very structured and how the lay person can better observe what is going on. Jack wins first prize as he turns Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred into an enjoyable romp.

Harriet Klausner
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down! Breeders-include a copy in your adoption package! Feb. 18 2012
By Scott C McEwen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
We have been Australian Shepherd owners for 5 years and semi-diligent watchers of the broadcasted dog shows for many more. When I saw "Dog Show" by Josh Dean on my local bookstore shelf with Jack the Aussie's adorable picture on the cover, I was sucked in. After reading the first couple of pages, my husband and children only heard laugh out louds and quoted dog breed/dog show tidbits from me until I had finished reading the entire book-just in time to tune into the Westminster Dog Show and finally understand exactly what dog shows are all about. I wish this book had been around years ago when we were trying to decide on the best dog breed fit for our family. Josh Dean provides extensive and ACCURATE info on all purebreds that is unparalleled to whatever google search you may log on to. We adopted a mix breed pup in Sept-uncertain of his true heritage at the time-we now know that he is part Rhodesian Ridgeback, Beagle and Chesapeake Bay Retriever, due to "Show Dog's" one-stop shop wealth of breed info. When you get to the last page, you will want to kiss your dog, unless it has already plastered you with multiple smooches during the read!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book! March 4 2012
By Yuzawa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a relatively new person to the show world, I haven't been able to put in words the why or how of campaigning a dog to my family or friends in any way that can make the non-dog show person understand. This book does it beautifully and succinctly. Not only does it explain the complicated dog show to the non-exhibitor, but it also details so many parts of the dog show world that are not in the ring, especially the amount of care and effort that goes into making these dogs the best they can be. A mandatory read for any dog show person and a great entertaining read for those with even just a mild curiosity in what goes on at these fairgrounds and convention centers across the country and how these dogs get there in the first place.
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