This book tells the story of Martin Kihn and his Bernese Mountain Dog, Hola. Martin (Marty) is an alcoholic who is on the verge of losing his job. Hola is out of control, having never been trained. Marty’s wife Gloria leaves him because she needs space away from both of them.
Marty decides to throw himself into obedience training of Hola to get Gloria back and to keep his mind from drinking. They go into training for the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test.
I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I expected a book that was very much a dog story and what I got was a man telling his survival story with a main character being his dog. I did enjoy how Marty hears Hola talking to him. When Hola speaks to him, her voice is in italics. For example, on the spur of the moment Marty decides to drive out and see his wife in the countryside where she is staying:
“Hola,” I say, as we drive the twisting half mile past the ice-cream-and-chicken stand to the house, “what if Mommy doesn’t want to see us.”
She’ll want to see me, she says. Everybody loves me.
“Don’t count on it, girlfriend.”
Do you think she made crab cakes?
The book also gives some good insights into the Canine Good Citizen test and mentions a number of training techniques.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand