Book Review: Show Dog by Josh Dean

Hey, I haven't read a dog related book for a couple months now (I was getting into Stephen King) and am quite happy that I took that break so I could really appreciate this book. Show Dog follows the highs and lows of one Australian Shepherd's showing career over the span of a couple of years. This book delves deep into the American dog showing circuit, and as the writer Josh Dean is not a dog owner, or shower, it explains everything so that the most inexperienced person would understand. It gives you a rare look into the lives of people who base their whole existence around dog showing and breeding.

Josh Dean was on the lookout for a single dog to be the star of his book, and wanted to make sure he found the perfect dog that would show the many ups and downs of dog showing. In the end, he chose Jack, an Australian Shepherd owned by single mother, and until Jack, not a dog show attendee, Kimberley. He follows Jacks story, from the start of his showing days, until he semi-retires in 2011 and includes stories from all the people in Jacks life. Surprisingly, there is quite a team behind any good show dog, and this story features Jack's breeder, his handler, his owner, and a handful of other people that help bring out the best in him.

I found that the way Josh Dean's wrote was very captivating and kept my attention, this was definitely a book I had trouble putting down. I loved how he explained everything in detail, and added a variety of facts and history into the pages of this book. I learnt heaps on the history of the American Kennel Club, as well as the origins of the Australian Shepherd, which spoiler alert, does not come from Australia. This book was super insightful, but also humorously written, with little added jokes thrown amongst the stories. He explained everything in a clear manner, and didn't make any of the people in this book sound overly crazy (Which is easy to do with us animal lovers).

Before this book, I had been to one confirmation dog show, and didn't really understand why people felt the need to pursue this sport. Especially when there is a lot more active, and in my opinion more fun sports you can do with your dog. But after reading this book, I have felt the compelling need to attend a dog show, and to over-analyse every dog that is entered. This book has really made me understand how people can so easily love this activity, and made me want to get included in it. Although, frankly, I would never do dog showing myself. More of a spectator sport for me.

This book is definitely a great read, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I love the feeling of reading a book that not only tells a great story, but gives you knowledge on the chosen topic and this book was just that. I feel like I can now spit out a bunch of dog showing facts and figures and pretend I know what I am talking about when a dog gets awarded 'Best of Opposite'. I don't think you have to be on the dog showing scene to enjoy this, you can be just an average Joe and really gain a lot from this book. I do think that dog showers and breeders would also appreciate this book though.


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