Last Dog On The Hill by Steve Duno

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Last Dog On The Hill by Steve Duno

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Category: Pets
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: One of the best books about a dog I have ever read. When you've finished it the great difficulty is to stop yourself turning back to the beginning and starting again. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: August 2010
Publisher: Pan
ISBN: 978-0330520027

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Driving through northern California Steve Duno found a puppy by the side of the road. He was flea-bitten, tic infested, emaciated and suffering from an infection. His father was a Rottweiler and his mother a German Shepherd - both were guard dogs at the local marijuana farm. When Steve whistled the dog came to him and it's no exaggeration to say that in that moment his life changed. He'd always wanted a dog, but hadn't been able to have one as a child. There was a moment's indecision at the side of the road – and then Lou became Steve's dog.

The first vet to see Lou said that if he hadn't been rescued he probably wouldn't have lived another month. In the event he lived until he was sixteen and caused Steve to change from teaching children to becoming an animal behaviourist. Lou helped him to save hundreds of aggressive dogs who would otherwise have had to be put down. Oh – and he also foiled an armed robbery, fought kidnappers and comforted the elderly. He was, you might say, the all-American canine hero and Steve's best friend. He had a vocabulary of over two hundred words and responded to just about as many hand signals. Last Dog On The Hill is Lou and Steve's story.

If you think that this is going to be a slushy story of a pampered dog and his adoring owner, then forget it. I was in tears of laughter as Steve fought to cope with Lou's destructive tendencies (not least because I had a similar learning curve with a Rhodesian Ridgeback) and recognised his realisation that he would not only have to train Lou and exercise him physically, he would also have to exercise him mentally. The stories of how he did this are inspirational. It's a very positive book too – despite it being fairly obvious that a lot of the problems with the aggressive dogs were the fault of their owners there's no culture of blame. The emphasis is always on what can be done for the dogs and how the owners can be helped to achieve this.

Steve writes an honest story. He's open about mistakes he made and you never get a feeling that he's glossing over anything. It's emotional, but not needlessly so – there were times when I laughed and quite a few tears shed too – but it's a wonderful tribute to that one special dog that changed Steve's life. There is an added factor here: Steve Duno can write. He makes every word tell and the book has that 'just one more chapter' feeling which makes it a very quick and satisfying read. When I looked up some details before starting this review it was a real effort not to settle down and read the book again.

If you love dogs you will adore this book. Even if you're not dog-mad you will get a lot from the description of how the bond between man and dog was forged. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Much of Steve's success with Lou was based on the fact that he understood how Lou worked. For more information on this you might like to read Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz.

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Buy Last Dog On The Hill by Steve Duno at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Last Dog On The Hill by Steve Duno at


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