Review: Laura Greaves – Extraordinary Old Dogs

Extraordinary Old Dogs
Laura Greaves

“Puppies are wonderful, but there is something truly special about an old dog. It’s the grey muzzle and salt-and-pepper eyebrows; the face that says ‘been there, sniffed that’. More than anything, it’s the lifetime of love, laughter and licks.”

This non-fiction book about senior dogs was quite an interesting read, but also a disappointing one. I had previously enjoyed Greaves’ Miracle Mutts and was keen to give this one a read. However, this book didn’t live up to the promise of its title. Yes, it certainly discussed old dogs, but I don’t think they were actually ‘extraordinary’.

To give some context, I grew up in a household where dogs were working dogs on a farm. We never kept a dog that was unsuitable for the (hard) farm life, but we weren’t cruel either. Dogs lived out their time on the farm – they weren’t surrendered or slaughtered for being old. Other dogs I’ve met all have lived out their lives at home – even those in the care of complete strangers! So to me, it was a bit of a surprise that there was even a bias against old dogs.

These dogs were all old, but I don’t think their stories were particularly unique for being old. It was more that the majority of these dogs were rescued – adopted in their old age after someone had surrendered them to the Pound. Thus I felt cheated that these dogs were old, but they were more interesting for the fact that they had entertaining personality types, or fascinating back stories prior to adoption. To be fair, some dogs were with their humans for their whole lives, and those dogs were themselves interesting on how long a dog can live under the most optimum conditions.

I did learn some interesting facts, such as that the old adage that “one human year = seven dog years” is really incorrect (different breeds age differently), and that it is possible to train a dog to find koalas. At times, the author seemed to rely on old news articles for details rather than information presumably straight from the owners’ mouths. Perhaps these stories are less about the dogs, and more about the social media accounts that their owners set up for them!

I’m honestly not sure this book is worth the price tag. It’s not something I would have a compulsion to read more than once, and I’m not sure who I would buy it for. Perhaps if you have someone who had truly cared for their old dog, or are thinking about getting a new pet, this would be an appropriate gift.

Penguin Random House | 1st December 2020 | AU$34.99 | paperback

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