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Dog Book Review: Pure Gold

Fellow Coloradoan (by way of California) Holli Pfau co-founded a nationally recognized program for animal-assisted therapy in hospitals. She shares her adventures, starting with Golden Retriever #1 Nikki in her new book Pure Gold.

best dog blog, champion of my heart, pure gold book coverWith little reading leisure in my schedule, Pure Gold rumbled around with me for a few weeks. I managed to read a chapter here, a few pages there. Then, a couple of Saturdays ago, I had to work anyway.

After wrapping up whatever drafts I needed to extricate from my noodle, I hunkered down to make a real dent in Pfau’s book — Pure Gold: Adventures with Six Rescued Golden Retrievers.

Book Review Pure Gold: Adventures with Six Rescued Golden Retrievers

I mentally stood shoulder to shoulder as Pfau:

  • Changed careers and co-founded the hospital program where dogs comforted people in situations eerily similar to what I’ve experienced these last three years
  • Added dogs to her family, including one not-quite-rescue dog who surely needed to be saved from the breeder’s kennel
  • Dealt with skittish new dogs
  • Suffered through a rattlesnake bite emergency (Our Lilly has survived 2 such bites to the face, if you’re new to our ongoing stories.)
  • Transitioned her life to Colorado mountain living
  • Waited for news of her house during a terrible wildfire

All that … in the first 125 pages. Whew!

And, then as has become so common that I intend to institute a new book review policy in 2012, I came across a dog “dominance” reference that broke my heart.

Tucker, the dog who delivered a measured and appropriate rebuke to a rambunctious puppy, wasn’t exerting dominance. He was merely showing and sharing solid dog-dog skills. Nothing more, nothing less. He simply gave the equivalent of a “Cut it out!”

That’s where I stopped reading.

Pfaus writing is clear and engaging. Her vignettes rung all too familiar to a girl like me, including rattlesnake encounters, wildfire fears, and revelations about the importance of witnessing sad things.

In real life, I’m confident we would be friends. I applaud her work, her spirit, and the goal of raising money for rescue organizations.

I recommend the book.

Those of you who know me at all know how I feel about scientifically false, entirely debunked alpha / dominance / pack leader baloney that often leads people to treat dogs poorly.

Coming across references that appear to give legitimacy to such old-fashioned ideas about dog behavior and motivation … even in books I like very much … ruins the experience for me.

As my writer friends like to say, “Your mileage may vary.”

Pure Gold: Adventures with Six Rescued Golden Retrievers Giveaway

Goodness knows we have local friends and neighbors who are huge fans of the golden retriever breed, and I considered giving the book away as a personal gift.

BUT, with the holiday season looming, I thought perhaps one of you might like to give it away as a gift. So, as usual, please post a comment below to enter the book giveaway. The deadline to comment on this blog post is midnight (mountain time) Sunday, November 27, 2011. I’ll draw a random winner on Monday, November 28, 2011.



Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Living Large - November 22, 2011

I, too, appreciate your honesty and thoughts about the old fashioned way to think about dogs. I also appreciate your taking a stand and instituting your new policy.

Dorothy Baxter - November 21, 2011

As always, I enjoy your honest opinion and agree with you that too many books are ruined by old fashioned ideas about dog behavior. With that in mind, I would still very much enjoy reading this book as one of my goals in my quickly approaching retirement is to get at least one of my fur babies (in my case cocker spaniels) certified as a therapy dog. I have 4 cockers and a border collie/mix – all rescues – and hope to also be able to contribute time to local rescues with a view to eventually forming my own. Even if I don’t win this book, I am putting it on my must read list as it seems the positives surely outweigh the negatives in this case. Have a great holiday season!

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