Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Books of the Month

I'm going to do a little something different than what I've been doing with my Book of the Month blog posts from here on out. My interest in great danes is more than just a passing fancy and more than one of just general adoration for the two wonderful animals that I live with. I consider myself a student of the breed, in whatever form the learning may take place. As the cliche goes, to understand where you are and where you're going, you must also understand where you've been. In order for me to fully understand the breed as it is today and where it's going, I must also understand where it came from and learn more about its past. This is something that I find absolutely fascinating! Therefore, in each of my monthly book review posts I will review one general dog related book and one great dane related book. I'm really excited about this and I hope that for those interested, it helps to give you some ideas for books to augment your library.:)

Before getting into the book reviews, Heffner had another chiro. adjustment today. We tried to make it work last week, but the chiropractor's schedule and mine just weren't syncing up. She was really pleased with how he's holding the adjustments and was also really pleased with where she got him to today. There were a few points that she's been slowly picking at to get them where she wants them and she made a lot of progress today! He still isn't allowed to go frolicking off leash as of yet, but his exercise will be getting bumped up and I can start getting that boy back into the kind of shape that I prefer him to be in! He's on the usual 24 hours of no activity and then we'll work our way back into an exercise routine! Now on to the books!
My pick for general interest Book of the Month for February is "Canine Terminology" by Harold R. Spira. This book is pretty much exactly what the title says it is. It reads like an dictionary of dog terminology. While you could most definitely read it cover to cover (which I did and came across a few words that I've never heard before), I believe it's intended use was as a reference text. There are a plethora of pictures and illustrations on each page to best illustrate some of the words. So much of the terminology used in the dog world is best defined when you have an example right in front of you. This book is great for anyone who sometimes feels a little in over their heads with the words that get tossed around at various dog events.
My pick for great dane Book of the Month for February is "This is the Great Dane" by Ernest H. Hart. I am a lot more appreciative of breed books that go beyond the very basics of what it is to own a dog. There are many out there that are so lightly sprinkled with specifics about the breed that they are almost useless for those wanting to really understand what it would be like to own a dog of a particular breed. This book thankfully goes beyond the basics of dog ownership and really delves into what it's like to own a great dane. Every aspect is covered from the general history of the breed, to purchasing a puppy, to raising the puppy, to a general description of the coat color genetics.

The book is copyrighted 1967, which makes it interesting to read just to see how things have or have not changed since then. It's also interesting to see what concepts were "common knowledge" at the time, but may have now fell out of favor due to advances in technology that are combined with ongoing research. Mostly I enjoyed reading how most people kept and raised their danes compared to what is viewed now as the ideal way to raise and care for a great dane.

There is one aspect of dane history that was lacking in this book, and that was the temperament of the original danes. There is discussion on what the temperament of today's dane should be, but no mention of where they've come from. I actually found this rather disappointing because it's something that I feel is very important to understand for someone who is looking to get into the breed. The early great dane (late 1800's and even early 1900's) had an AWFUL temperament. They were not the gentle giant that they are so often now touted to be. Their temperament was one of a ferocious hunter who was fully capable of also being an aggressive guard dog. It's what they were bred for, and the temperament was part of the package. Conscientious breeders did a lot for the breed to mellow that out, but it is an important part of the breed's history.

Overall I enjoyed reading this book and seeing the many pictures of danes past while hearing about the famous kennels that they came from. If the great dane is a breed that you have even a passing interest in, I would certainly recommend that you look into reading this book!

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