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See Spot Sit: 101 Illustrated Tips for Training the Dog You Love
Skyhorse Publishing, 120 pp., 2008; $12.95
See Spot Sit

Since Carol Lea Benjamin and I share the (unofficial) world’s record for “Most Border Collies tucked under a café table in Greenwich Village,” I am not an impartial reviewer. But I know Carol’s dogs, and dogs are the test of any dog trainer.More on her dogs later.

Carol Lea Benjamin’s Mother Knows Best derived from her brilliant intuition that we should train our puppies as their dam trains them. Mother Knows Best is one of the two or three best-selling training books ever written—and has helped owners train hundreds of thousands of dogs.

Mystery fans will also be familiar with Carol Lea Benjamin’s Shamus award– winning series starring detective Rachel Alexander and her dog Dash.

She’s an International Association of Canine Professionals Hall of Famer, and has won countless honors from the Dog Writers Association of America.

See Spot Sit is a dramatic evolution from Mother Knows Best. It’s the first dog training book which instructs with cartoons. Carol’s charming, funny cartoons illustrate, amplify and comment upon her simple, practical training advice.

Tip #59: “Teach your dog to walk at your side.…Walking on a leash shouldn’t be a tug of war. If your dog pulls ahead, turn and walk in the opposite direction. If he lags behind, crouch and call him to you, arms held open for him.”

Tip #85: “Hang out with your puppy. The time you spend with him early on —training, playing, watching and learning— will pay you back more than you might imagine.” Trainers often suggest you play with your dog. Carol tells you how to play with your dog.

Tip #91: “Throw the ball far but not high. Dogs can get injured if they jump too high.”

Tip #93: “Play dead. Choose games and tricks that your dog does or can do naturally.Watch your dog at play. Does he love to bark? Teach him ‘speak,’ ‘count,’ ‘add.’…Is he light on his feet? Born to jump? Teach him to jump over your leg, over a stick or through a hoop.”

Carol lives a human/dog intimacy most dog owners (and many dog trainers) can scarcely imagine. Carol spends every minute of every day with her service dogs, Dexter, Flash and Sky (in training).When Carol’s swimming at the gym, Flash lies quietly at poolside. In restaurants, hotels or flying to Paris, he’s at her feet.

Carol Lea Benjamin explores her unique experience with simple and—I repeat—practical tips to enrich your dog bond. She’s no ideologue, and never badmouths trainers with different methods. Carol Lea Benjamin is only concerned about you and your dog.

Now, about that shared world record: Carol; her husband, Steve Lennart; and I had dinner outdoors at Pastis. Like most Greenwich Village cafés, the tables are jammed together and are so minuscule we scarcely had room for three plates up top and three sets of feet underneath. When we finished and rose to go, our three Border Collies emerged. The waitress was startled. “I didn’t know there were dogs under there,” she said.

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 50: Sept/Oct 2008
Donald McCaig is a novelist, essayist, poet and sheep farmer who gained recognition with his classic man-and-dog tale, Nop's Trials, which was followed by numerous other bestsellers, including Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men and, most recently, Rhett Butler's People.
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