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The Best & Brightest in the World of Dogs
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Donald McCaig would be notable enough as the author of beloved dog books like Nop’s Trials and Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men. We also celebrate him as an early activist against the homogenizing perils of inbreeding, on behalf of his beloved working sheepdogs. That tale, too, is skillfully rendered in his book, The Dog Wars. He writes with an insight and subtle humor that befits his own Virginia breeding. 

The first year that Caroline Knapp and I were friends, in 1996, we took the dogs on a beach run at Gay Head, on the southwestern tip of the island of Martha’s Vineyard. My Samoyed, Clementine, was not yet two, strong as an ox and full of fire. Caroline’s Shepherd-mix, Lucille, was smaller in stature and calmer in demeanor. We spent the afternoon watching them charge up and down the beach, until a series of sonic booms from a nearby naval airfield shattered our reverie. Clementine took off down the beach at a full run, as wild-eyed as a spooked horse. I got her back long enough to leash her, but she had the sled-dog ability to pull a small car, and I fell in the sand just trying to hang onto her.
“Let me have her,” said Caroline, and took hold of Clemmie’s leash and started running alongside her the half-mile to the car. Lucille, seeming to understand that I was the one with the bad leg, stayed by my side. The larger world knew Caroline Knapp through her narrative voice: the wry intelligence and emotional honesty she brought to all her books, but most belovedly to Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs—the story of the shelter dog named Lucille who changed Caroline’s life. Armed with 20/20 acuity, Pack of Two delivered a kaleidoscopic view of the place of dogs in contemporary America. But because Caroline brought her whole heart to her story, she gave us, as well, the essence of what it means to love a dog.
For the rest of her life—another six years—she was the one person I trusted utterly with my dog. In the real world, the world of pastoral beach walks and terrifying moments, she was as steadfast as any narrative persona could have hinted. And in my interior vision of heaven—wherever Caroline could possibly be, given that she isn’t here—she is surrounded by every dog who ever loved her, including Clementine and Lucille. All of them are trying to get in her lap. 
—Gail Caldwell

Poet Mary Oliver has graced the world with her meditative eye and exquisite language for nearly 50 years, bringing the physical world—dogs not least among it—into sharper focus for the rest of us. Using humor to reconcile the intellectual with the natural, she imparts wisdom through such gems as this line, written from her dog’s perspective: Books? says Percy./I ate one once. It was enough./Let’s go. 

Inspired by the late, great Earl, MUTTs creator and animal activist Patrick McDonnell is a cartoonist with a message, showing readers the world through the eyes of his animal characters. 

Stanley Coren takes the canine IQ seriously, and has covered the topic in numerous articles and books. His work has done much to popularize the subject of dogs’ intelligence as well as our bond with them. 

As the founding editor of the staunchly independent Whole Dog Journal, Nancy Kerns has been empowering dog owners with intel on dog-friendly training, holistic health care and practical nutrition—i.e., how to read a dog food label—for more than 10 years. 

When Harriet Ritvo, a noted professor at MIT, wrote The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age in 1987, she launched an innovative animal studies curriculum that has inspired similar programs at universities around the globe. 

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Submitted by AliKat | February 13 2010 |

Although I know the article wasn't about the dogs pictured on page 49, it was still a thrill to see the little round photo of our Chow Chow Rowdy in the picture(7th from left, down 3 spots), especially since The Bark has also just chosen him (puppy pic) and one of our other Chows(who passed 9/25/09) in the smiling dogs online for this past week. Rowdy was also in The Bark magazine as one of the smiling dogs in the Nov./Dec. 2008 issue. Naturally, we think he's a real handsome guy, but it's nice to know someone else thinks so too. Thanks Bark!

Submitted by Julie Hirt | March 12 2010 |

Hello The Bark!

I am surprised that Cesar Millan didn't make the list - of the top 100 or the honorable mention story above. I hear rumblings of him being a controversial figure in the dog world (not sure I understand why) but he has, at the very minimum taught thousands of dog guardians that a daily 20 minute walk a day is crucial to a dog's physical and mental well-being. Not to mention that he's been showing millions of viewers that it isn't the dog's fault - it is the human's.

I am trying to figure out why he would have been omitted. Maybe he is too commercial. I don't know. But isn't it important to note what he's been able to contribute to the overall collaborative work by the pet community as a whole?

Sincerely,

Julie Hirt

Submitted by Matthew | April 13 2010 |

Hi Julie,

Typical comments in our canine search and rescue group is that Cesar is 80% correct. Once you've advanced to the point that you understand which 20% is garbage, you don't need him anymore.

The nonsense is all that alpha-aggressive stuff. Granted I'm biased in that you can not teach wilderness Search and Rescue through discipline methods. No dog is going to go look for someone lost in the woods for 8 hours because of fear of reprisal. You MUST make them want to do the work more than anything else. There are zero obedience commands given during the actual search training. I know this colors my perspective on dog training. :)

For an alternative view, check out http://www.phoenixbooksandaudio.com/books/detail/the-behavior-savior/ .

Fair disclosure: Dina was a Mission Ready member of our search and rescue team before the tragic, untimely death of her partner. We've both trained dogs and taken classes together, and it my professional opinion that she is very good at what she does. This is my first working dog and I have certainly learned important lessons about my partner by applying her principles and methods. I'm also fortunate to be able to call her a friend. No, I don't get anything from mentioning her book.

Read Culture Clash; if you're in the area, work with Dina; and you'll have all the tools you need to develop a great relationship with your dog. After that it is up to you and your willingness to devote 1 hour a day to giving your dog exercise, obedience training, and affection. (That's a Dina saying. :)

Matthew

Submitted by Norma Freeman | September 14 2014 |

Because he constanty compares dogs to wolves, and talks about the leader of the pack. Wolves live in Families in the wild, not packs. They assemble in packs when in captivity as do Ceasar Milan's dogs in his compound.
In other words, though some of Ceasar's methods, etc. are sound, they have not been developed from sound knowledge.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 7 2010 |

I do not disagree with anyone on this list and what a wonderful list it is. There are some of the top people here and kudos to Bark for pointing them all out to the public. I am just wondering, where is Suzanne Clothier? She is one of the leading figures on canine assessments and relationship based training methods. Please consider her for next years list.

Submitted by pierre | August 19 2013 |

There are some of the top people here and kudos to Bark for pointing them all out to the public. I am just wondering, where is Suzanne Clothier? She is one of the leading figures on canine assessments and relationship based training methods. Please consider her for next years list.

http://binaereoptionen.webgarden.com/

Submitted by Laura | April 8 2010 |

But I have to agree...Where is Suzanne Clothier?? I hope she's considered next year!

I was relieved not to see Cesar Milan! Kudos to you for not including someone who uses a lot of controversial and harsh approaches.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 30 2010 |

Myrna Miliani is brilliant and it's about time we started to listen to what she has been writing (for years) about.

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