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If Only They Could Speak

Understanding the Powerful Bond Between Dogs and Their Owners


Nicholas H. Dodman, D.V.M. (View Bio)
Hardcover: W. W. Norton & Co., 2002; Paperback: W. W. Norton & Co., 2003.

If Only They Could Speak

"Nicholas Dodman has written several excellent books about pets with problems (DOGS BEHAVING BADLY, THE CAT WHO CRIED FOR HELP), but this may be the best of all. It is a collection of stories about dogs (and some cats) that were treated at the animal behavior clinic Dodman founded at Tufts University. He depicts familiar pet problems (dominance, separation anxiety, aggression) but also documents their effects on the human-canine bond. In the chapter "The Two Dogs of Mrs. Spinelli," a dog owner's favoritism toward her poodle has provoked her German shepherd to viciously attack the other dog. Dodman convinces Mrs. Spinelli that peace will not reign until the shepherd is acknowledged as top dog (a little Prozac—for the shepherd—helps, too). Although not every case ends happily, all are instructive."—Stanley Coren, The Wall Street Journal's "Five Best Books" column on "Man's Best Friend"

"This fascinating book reads like a set of medical and psychological detective stories. In it Dr. Dodman deals with problem pets and the people who may be the cause of these problems, or who may be the pet's last hope. As he describes the events involving both the two-footed and four-footed actors in these real-life dramas, the reader will not only be captivated, but will also learn some valuable lessons about how to deal with and to understand their own pets. This is a 'must-read' book for anyone interested in the behavior of dogs and cats — and people too!" — Stanley Coren, author of HOW TO SPEAK DOG and THE INTELLIGENCE OF DOGS

"The images Dodman vividfly paints of dogs, cats, and people are often unforgettable. While the book may be tragic in places, it tells stories that are true to life and an accurate account of the 'life behind closed doors' of some pet owners who have experienced profound difficulties.... I give this book an enthusiastic two thumbs and two paws up rating!" — Scranton Times

"Noted veterinarian and behaviorist Dodman presents 13 true tales from his own practice, stories about animals with habits so bizarre that they require the skill of trained experts.... The stories will entertain and fascinate readers." — Petlife

"Nicholas Dodman may very well be the best thing that ever happened to domestic pets. As he has pointed out, the leading cause of death in dogs is euthanasia for behavioral problems. He is trying successfully to counter that, by providing ways to modify the behavior of even the most difficult dogs and also cats. This book is a collection of stories that describe his efforts and should be required reading for anyone who even thinks about getting an animal. What's more, the book is skillfully written, very exciting, and highly entertaining to read, even for people whose pets do not have problems." — Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of THE HIDDEN LIFE OF DOGS

"It is Dodman's chief virtue that as a veterinarian he sees the connections between owner and owned, master/mistress and pet.... Dodman can be eloquent on the joy a healthy relationship with a pet can bring to both sides of the equation." — Los Angeles Times

"Dr. Dodman is a master storyteller and a wry observer of both human and animal behavior. The dogs, cats, and people who leap off these pages are unforgettable." — Franklin M. Leow, D.V.M., Ph.D., Former Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts and Cornell Universities, President of Becker College

"Dodman...is arguably the most successful pet book author in recent years.... Can dogs actually become jealous? He's a scientist, so he's not supposed to think so, but Dodman has the courage to say yes, animals do have feelings. Most important, he explains through real-life examples what to do when your pet is stricken with the green-eyed monster." — Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"But they do speak! The problem is few people truly know the language. Dr. Nicholas Dodman understands what dogs and cats are trying to tell us. In IF ONLY THEY COULD SPEAK, he translates what animals actually say. Dodman opens the door to canine and feline minds using real life examples and humor. This book is nearly as fun to read as a game of fetch — except you do come back knowing a whole lot more about hwy our pets do the things they do." — Steve Dale, syndicated newspaper columnist, My Pet World; syndicated radio host, Pet Central, Animal Planet Radio, and The Pet News; senior columnist, Pet Life magazine and special correspondent/columnist, Dog World magazine

"A realistic look at the ups and downs of the human-animal bond.... Unlike other authors of animal books, who tend to approach their subject clinically, Dodman, 56, writes a compelling narrative.... Fascinating — and sometimes heartrending." — Worcester Telegram

"A compelling journey exploring the minds and hearts of [Dodman's] animal patients.... Intimate, lively, amusing.... Science has paid scant attention to understanding the dog's mind — so it is refreshing to hear Dodman's voice with its insistence on the integrity of the cognitive and emotional life of our dogs. He has done much to advance the field of animal behavioral science, and in this book covers the subject in a manner that makes it approachable, absorbing, and entertaining." — Bark Magazine

"Forget the Dog and Cat Whisperer. In a truly landmark book, IF ONLY THEY COULD SPEAK, Dr. Dodman shouts from the rooftops in an educated, eloquent, evangelical voice about the myriad emotional problems pets face, and in most cases triumph over given the proper examinations, treatments, dedication, and perhaps most importantly, an excess of love. Laden not just with stirring stories but with practical solutions, every pet and pet loving family will benefit from its wit and wisdom. Dr. Dodman had me hook, line, and sinker from the first paragraph. Not only is IF ONLY THEY COULD SPEAK an immensely pleasureable read, it's chock full of valuable lessons that will help every pet, and pet parent, share a more intimate, lasting bond.... IF ONLY THEY COULD SPEAK took me on a roller coaster of emotions. One minute I was choking back tears, the next minute I was cheering out loud for an underdog pet who triumped, and other times I reflected in quiet thought about personal pets these stirring stories reminded me of. If you're a pet lover and you want to be entertained and need to be educated, buy this book!" — Marty Becker, DVM, Good Morning America veterinarian and author of THE HEALING POWER OF PETS

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