Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: Follow My Lead, by Carol Quinn

More than a year ago, I read a book that resonated with me on so many levels. The author had a background in public relations, she was a single parent AND she had dogs. There were differences, of course. She ran agility. We don't (not sure my knees and ankle would hold up!). She has Rhodesian Ridgebacks, not terriers. She's a successful writer in California. I'm ... not. Nor have I had a live-in love interest (or any romantic relationships since my divorce).

I visited her website, "liked" her Facebook page and began following her on Twitter. I knew I liked her writing style and I felt she was saying some important things about deepening our relationships with the animals in our lives. Imagine my happy surprise when she followed me back on Twitter!

It was even more exciting last week when she sent me a Twitter message asking if I would consider writing a review for her book on Amazon. Okay, exciting and terrifying. Here was an author I admire, asking me to commit to (virtual) paper my thoughts about her book, thoughts that could potentially influences purchases. Yikes.

But I did it. I put my thoughts and my writing "out there" to a wider market than I have written to in years. And, since most of my years in p.r. were spent writing for someone else's byline, or anonymously, this was one of the first times my writing - with my own name - had the potential to reach so many.

I just got the loveliest note from Ms. Quinn, thanking me for the review and saying she was going to "share it around." How awesome is that?

Below is what I wrote for the book Follow My Lead: What Training My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Love and Happiness, by Carol Quinn (ISBN-13 978-1580053709, published by Seal Press, 2011). I highly recommend it for any and all the dog lovers in your life!

I read Carol Quinn's book after the bright cover and melting brown eyes of the dogs on the cover drew me in. And, from the first, I was nodding my head in agreement, highlighting passages, turning down pages and making notes in the margins. Quinn does an excellent job of looking beneath the surface, examining both humans and canines, their differences, their bonds, and her relationships with each.

I found myself looking at many of my own personal and professional challenges through her lens of life with her dogs - gorgeous Rhodesian Ridgebacks. I cringed at the often harsh tone and criticisms of their agility instructor while marveling at how she could relate canine behavior and reinforcement training to humans. I found myself hoping that screenplays and books would sell, that love would be forever and that - for one brief moment - the planets would align for both humans and dogs. And they do, but not always as was planned or expected.

In agility terminology, Carol Quinn hit all the contact points for me with her book. The messages, the lessons she learned from her dogs, she generously shares with the reader. And she reminds us that, for some of us, it is "dog wisdom we were seeking all along."

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