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Canine Perspectives by David Cavill

David Cavill has spent much of his adult life around dogs, with the Finnish Spitz holding a special place in his heart. Amongst other things - he was founder of the Animal Care College, worked as a senior manager at Battersea Dogs' Home, judging and advising on the selection, care and training of pedigree and mongrel dogs - he wrote a regular column for Our Dogs newspaper and Dogs Monthly. It's these and other articles which are reproduced here and as there's a time span of fifteen years they allow the reader to see what has changed and - probably more importantly - what hasn't.

Canine Perspectives by David Cavill

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Category: Pets
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A selection of articles previously published in Our Dogs and elsewhere. If you're really into dogs you'll find a lot of them thought-provoking although it's propbably not the book for the casual dog owner.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 120 Date: January 2012
Publisher: Createspace
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1468104783

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If you're hoping for articles about the best food or toys that don't disintegrate on contact with teeth - or anything along those lines then this is not the book for you. A wide range of subjects are covered but if I had to give an umbrella description I'd say that it's about the politics of the canine world. That might sound rather dry, but if you're interested in why certain people seem to judge every dog show going, or wondered why dog conformations subtly change over time and not always to the benefit of the dog then this is a very good starting point. Cavill has inside knowledge, long experience and the ability to place what he writes about in context. The articles are also of an excellent length to read and think about - it's a book you can happily dip into and return to later.

He's a man of firm opinions, even when he takes a middle ground. I found him particularly interesting on the subject of dog training. For those who don't know this is a subject which divides the dog world just about as effectively as any religion, with some believing that the human has to establish themselves as pack leader and be firm with a dog and others taking the approach that dogs should be rewarded for good behaviour. Personally I'm very much in the latter camp having reared two Rhodesian Ridgebacks using this method but I did modify my view after reading what he has to say. The method I used suited my dogs and they responded well but I'm prepared to accept that other dogs might not. Finally I concluded that the training should suit the dog rather than the owner.

Some points touch a raw nerve and Cavill returns on several occasions to the subject of the BBC1 documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed and is at great pains to debunk many of the points made in the programme. I never had any difficulty is disbelieving most of what was said: at the point when it was explained that healthy Rhodesian Ridgebacks without proper ridges are routinely culled at birth, a large Ridgeback with a poor ridge was leaning heavily against my thigh. Cavill has more scientific evidence to disprove other points made but it's easy to sense his annoyance that it's necessary. (For the record he doesn't deny that there are problems in some breeds any more than I would deny that healthy Ridgebacks are culled by certain breeders: what both of us deny is that the problems are anything like as extensive as the programme suggested.)

It's a thought-provoking and interesting book but I do have a couple of problems with it. The first is relatively minor: Cavill assumes that you'll be familiar to some extent with how the dog world works. If you're not then you'll struggle to understand some of the articles. The other point is more serious. The book has not been properly proofread and I lost count of the number of occasions on which I was pulled out of the flow of a piece and had to reread - finally coming to the conclusion that there was a typo, a misused word or a grammatical error. If these points don't worry you then you can increase the rating by half or one star.

I'd Like to thank the author for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

I think any dog lover will appreciate Old Dogs by Gene Weingarten and Michael S Williamson (Photographer) - it's a book I return to regularly. You might also appreciate Goodnight Buffy: Loving a Lakeland Terrier by Thomasina Price.

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