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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/09/2005 Archived Entry: "Book review: Star Pet"

Star Pet
By Bash Dibra with Kitty Brown
Publisher: Pocket Books

Review by Betsy Phillips

When it comes to training dogs, I subscribe to the PBJ method -- Persistence, Bribery, and Jocularity -- the basic philosophy of which is that you might as well learn to laugh at yourself and your dog because it's going to take you a lot of repetition and handing out of treats to teach your dog anything, and it'll go better if you find a way to enjoy the time in which the dog cannot understand what you want her to do.

Unfortunately for Bash Dibra, the author of Star Pet, and Pocket Books, the publisher, few people will pay for the wisdom I've just imparted. So, if you're going to sell a book about pet training, you've got to have something more to offer.

If you know anything about the publishing industry, you will appreciate this train-wreck of a book, because the various attempts at solving this conundrum -- how to get people to pay money for common-sense advice -- inadvertently makes this book extremely funny.

As I was reading through it, I tried to guess who was responsible for which odd or stupid thing. Let's start with the concept: training your dog (or cat, but mostly dog) to be in show business. I'm guessing that the agent saw an episode of Showdogs Moms & Dads on Bravo and thought that she could pitch a book along those lines.

Fair enough, but why does a book about how to make your pet famous need 150 pages of pseudo-history on dogs? I suspect because Bash Dibra thinks he's just a little more important and interesting than he actually is. Don't worry if you skip this part, he repeats all of the interesting stories at least twice more throughout the course of the book.

But who's to blame for the cheesy cover, with the cat with the Photoshopped hat? Well, who would think that the phrase "celebrity clients ranging from Sarah Jessica Parker to Henry Kissinger" is a good selling point? (Is there really someone somewhere who wishes he had access to Henry Kissinger's dog trainer?! If so, I'm torn between being frightened and needing to meet that person.) Marketing, of course.

Eventually, I started to wonder if I was the first person who'd read the book all the way through, a clear indication that the acquiring editor was sold on the concept, not the manuscript.

Anyway, I think the dog training advice is solid, but there are much better books out there that will teach you how to get your dog to sit. I have no idea if his advice about breaking into show business is any good. It's hard for me to believe that anyone has a pet so special that entertainment-industry types would be willing to work with an unknown trainer just to have access to that pet, but you never know. After reading the book, I'm not anxious to find out for myself.

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