The Puppy Diaries

Author:  Jill Abramson

Published By: Times Books

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

           When I saw this book in Barnes & Noble featuring the cutest Golden Retriever puppy on the cover, I had to check it out.  As I read what the book was about, I knew I had to own this book and check out just what it was about a Golden Retriever puppy that turned the executive editor of The New York Times into such a mush.  And so, I picked up a copy of The Puppy Diaries.

When Jill Abramson's husband suggested that they go to a breeder to get a Golden Retriever puppy, Jill was apprehensive.  Sure, her children were grown up and on their own, giving the Abramson's more time to spend raising a puppy, but Jill had personal issues of her own.  She had just finished rehabilitating after a particularly bad accident and she was still dealing with the loss of her beloved Westie.  Perhaps it was too soon for another puppy in her life...and one from an extremely active breed at that.

Misgivings noted, Abramson's husband managed to persuade her to apply for a puppy from Donna Cutler, a breeder of English Golden Retrievers.  They were given the smallest female from the litter, a small ball of fur named Cindy Lou after the tiny Who in Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Upon taking Cindy Lou home and renaming her Scout after the tough and inquisitive main character in To Kill A Mocking Bird, the Abramsons' finally realized exactly what they were getting into.

Jill Abramson began a column on the New York Times' website discussing the ups and downs of life with a rambunctious Golden Retriever puppy.  The column became extremely popular, hence the eventual compilation and adding on resulting in The Puppy Diaries book.

I enjoyed reading the hilarious antics of Scout as she grew from puppy to adolescent to full-grown dog.  I could relate to Abramson's apprehension regarding getting a new animal so soon after losing one.  I also could understand the guilt involved.  But I could also relate to (and thoroughly enjoy) watching a baby animal discover the world around her.  Everything is new and deserving of exploration, sniffing...tasting.  All of which is quite hysterical to watch and even more so to read about through the eyes of the author.

I found the discussion of training methods to be extremely interesting.  I have watched shows like Divine Canine, It's Me or the Dog and The Dog Whisperer and have been intrigued by the various techniques used to train dogs.  Being a writer, Abramson did a great deal of research regarding how to train Scout and relayed it all to the readers, explaining the controversial issues regarding pack leader training versus positive reinforcement training.  I could relate to the fact that, with Scout, no one training method worked perfectly.  I have been there and found that a mix of methods works best depending on the animal.

The book is filled with adorable photos of Scout in the various phases of her growth and I found myself exclaiming, "Awww!" with each one.  I also enjoyed the flow of the writing which made this an amazingly fast read - I read The Puppy Diaries in one day.  The author has added a helpful reference page for puppy owners who want to delve more into the books Jill Abramson used to research dogs in general, food, behavior, training, etc.  All-in-all, I found The Puppy Diaries to be a humorous read with many helpful tips for new puppy owners. 


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