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Published January 12th 2019
The love and life of a dog trainer
Book cover Photo courtesy Allen and Unwin
The soft mint green cover with an animated photo of a woman walking what appeared to be a miniature schnauzer was a sure-fire giveaway. As an unashamed puppy pawrent, there was no way that Life on the Leash was going to stay get on the shelf for long after I saw it. I simply had to bring it home and dive into its inviting pages. And I wasn't disappointed.
Life on the Leash is a feel-good story set in Washington about dogs and their owners. The lead character, Cora Bellamy, has traded in her corporate heels for comfy sneakers and taken up her ideal job as a dedicated dog trainer. Cora works with her ensemble of eccentric, well-meaning and very often time poor clients to help them instil good behaviours in their furry friends.
The boundary between professional and personal begins to blur when she agrees to take on the handsome new client, Charlie Gill, and his naughty boxer pup Oliver and agrees to show them the ropes to breaking in his mischievous pup to the household. While the fact the Charlie is unmistakably handsome is not enough, he is also General Counsel for the Animal Legal Protection Authority, making him all that more attractive and admirable to Cora. Could he be more perfect? But his status as a client and already in a relationship make him doubly off limits.
Perhaps her perfect match is closer than she thinks in the form of reliable, dog caring but slightly goofy Eli Crawford - a fellow dog foster parent.
If all of this is not enough excitement, Cora's friends encourage her to apply as host of a new television show about dog training which seems to have been made for her. Will Cora back herself, apply and get the job? Will she provide an alternative on-air trainer to the harsh and dangerous nemesis Boris? Will she let her insecurities take over and give up what could be the chance of a lifetime?
Against the backdrop of the story, author Victoria Schade offers subtle educational tips about animal and human behaviour and building productive, healthy partnerships between them. Advice about first grooms, walking on a lead, basic commands and house rules for new guests are all gently provided making it more than just a novel.
While it has friendship, fun, laughter and a hint of romance, at its very core, however, this book is about giving dogs big lives. We experience stories of neglected dogs (nothing too distressing) who are then fostered and given a second chance. We see the joy and companionship they bring to their owners' lives and it's hard not to smile.
So, even if you are a cat person, you are bound to enjoy this book. Give it a go.
Dog ownership statistics in Australia
We Aussies love our dogs. The Australian Veterinary Association estimate that in Australia dogs are the most popular type of pet with almost two in five households (3.6 million) owning a dog. There was an estimated dog population of 4.8 million in 2016; 20 dogs for every 100 people.
About the Author Victoria Schade is an author, speaker, and dog trainer. Victoria has worked on Animal Planet's annual Puppy Bowl special for the past twelve years. She has served as a pet expert for Petside, Pet360, petMD and PawCulture, writing training and behaviour content and appearing in educational videos. Life on the Leash is her first novel.