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How to Raise a Jewish Dog    by Ellis Weiner & Barbara Davilman order for
How to Raise a Jewish Dog
by Ellis Weiner
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2007 (2007)

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

Authors Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman have created the fictional organization, Rabbis of the Boca Raton Theological Seminary, to write a how-to manual of dog ownership using Jewish principles. The book is funny with numerous references to stereotypical Jewish aspects of child-rearing and ways to live life - which are also applied to raising a pooch.

Getting in touch with your dog's inner self, spoiling him rotten and guilting him into doing things your way are the central themes. The book includes chapters on training and obedience (guilt), the relationship between you and your dog (guilt), and diet and exercise (lots of guilt). 

In the chapter on basic equipment for your dog, the authors had this to say about dog tags: 'When it comes to raising a Jewish dog, remember that it is always better to imagine the worse, and then panic, and then realize you're being silly, and then plan for the worst, than to do nothing, or, indeed, anything else.'

A particularly funny part of the book toward the end is about an older dog. The authors have concluded that an older dog needs to know only four commands: So, What, Nu, and Okay. There is a table combining all of the aforementioned commands (such as, So, Nu and What, Okay? and all of the translations. For example, Okay! So! actually means, 'No begging in the dining room. How many times have we talked about this?'

Since the book focuses on one main joke throughout, it was a little overkill, but still enjoyable. Even though the authors state otherwise, I am not convinced the book would appeal to those who were not raised Jewish because there is an abundance of inside humor. 

I admit it took me a while to figure out if the authors meant this book to be helpful to dog owners. While there is some useful information, I think it is not intended to be a primer on raising a dog but really a lighthearted look at Jewish culture and its application to living with (and loving) dogs.

The photography of dogs inside How to Raise a Jewish Dog enhances it, and the cute cover of a dog wearing a Star of David and holding a bagel in his mouth is charming.

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