A Dog Called Perth by Peter Martin

June 16, 2013

Summary (from the publisher): From the instant they spotted the forlorn puppy in the kennel, Cindy and Peter Martin knew she was the one for them. Refusing to remain a mere pet, Perth becomes an adored member of the household, and embodies the young couple’s dreams. The Martins swear to always let Perth run free, and she becomes an indefatigable explorer with an infallible compass. From her adoption in upstate New York and her incredible survival in the wilderness of Vermont to her later adventures in the English countryside, Perth rewards the Martins with unshakable trust and unstinting love. This is an entertaining, beautifully written homage to a very special dog.

Liked:

  • I’m a sucker for dog stories, so I liked the basic fact that Perth gave her owners pleasure for 21 years.

Disliked:

  • I was extremely put off by Martin’s habit of making excuses for Perth no matter what she did. Whenever the dog snapped at or bit people (drawing blood and requiring stitches in some cases), Martin refused to admit it was his fault for not training her properly. Instead, he blamed the victim, saying that they didn’t know the first thing about taking care of dogs. Ugh, I hate when dog owners act like that!
  • Although the Martins seemed to truly love Perth, some of the things they did were irresponsible at best and cruel at worst. For example, leaving her in a locked car just so they could take an 8-hour ferry ride was incredibly selfish and stupid on their part. Also, letting her run free wherever they were without regard for neighbors and other residents was very reckless. I’m surprised Perth was never injured far from home or that she never got stuck or trapped in a situation requiring human intervention.
  • I hated reading about how many times the Martins abandoned Perth to chase their own dreams. Granted, I’m not the kind of person who thinks your life should be put completely on hold because of pets, but come on. I could maybe understand leaving her behind for 3 months (the first time) to go to England to research a book; but that kind of thing happened again and again — even when the poor dog was 18 years old! And of course when some kind of problem inevitably arose with Perth’s temporary caretakers, Martin blamed THEM, not himself or his untrained dog.
  • I can’t believe that the Martins’ selfishness extended so far that they wanted to put Perth to sleep at 18 years old despite the fact that her health was good for that age. They were headed overseas (yet again) for 9 months and didn’t know what to do with the dog, so they left her with a neighbor — with instructions to take the dog to the vet to be put down after they departed!!! The whole family then spent their time in America under the impression that Perth was dead. Fortunately, the neighbor didn’t listen to them, choosing instead to play it by ear and only take Perth to the vet if she showed signs of frailty. As it turned out, Perth lived on for three more years — time she wouldn’t have had if Peter Martin’s initial wishes had been followed.
  • The dialogue in this book was incredibly clunky. I had a hard time believing it was written by an English literature professor with numerous other publishing credits to his name. Wow.

Rating:

I wanted to love A Dog Called Perth because I adore dogs and have always had a soft spot in my heart for beagles in particular. But there was very little to like here, from the way the Martins actually treated the dog to the writing itself. I give the book just 2 stars out of 5 (and that’s being generous because of the picture on the cover).

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