BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Jon Katz's Going Home .
“Dogs are blameless, devoid of calculation, neither blessed nor cursed with human motives. They can’t really be held responsible for what they do. But we can.”
–from The Dogs of Bedlam Farm
When Jon Katz adopted a border collie named Orson, his whole world changed. Gone were the two yellow Labs he wrote about in A Dog Year, as was the mountaintop cabin they loved. Katz moved into an old farmhouse on forty-two acres of pasture and woods with a menagerie: a ram named Nesbitt, fifteen ewes, a lonely donkey named Carol, a baby donkey named Fanny, and three border collies.
Training Orson was a demanding project. But a perceptive dog trainer and friend told Katz: “If you want to have a better dog, you will just have to be a better goddamned human.” It was a lesson Katz took to heart. He now sees his dogs as a reflection of his willingness to improve, as well as a critical reminder of his shortcomings. Katz shows us that dogs are often what we make them: They may have their own traits and personalities, but in the end, they are mirrors of our own lives–living, breathing testaments to our strengths and frustrations, our families and our pasts.
The Dogs of Bedlam Farm recounts a harrowing winter Katz spent on a remote, windswept hillside in upstate New York with a few life-saving friends, ugly ghosts from the past, and more livestock than any novice should attempt to manage. Heartwarming, and full of drama, insight, and hard-won wisdom, it is the story of his several dogs forced Katz to confront his sense of humanity, and how he learned the places a dog could lead him and the ways a doge could change him.
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|Title of eBook: The Dogs of Bedlam Farm|
|Release Date: 10-05-2004|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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The Dogs of Bedlam Farm
CITY OF GOD
BEDLAM: a place, scene, or state of uproar and confusion
Far in the distance, as the morning mists began to clear, I could see a livestock trailer heading west on Route 30 from Salem toward the hamlet of West Hebron. From this hill behind my new house, I could spot visitors approaching from miles away.
There were plenty of farms around this quadrant of upstate New York, lots of places livestock haulers might be going, but my guess was that this was Wilbur Price of Bethel, Pennsylvania, delivering a ram named Nesbitt and the ladies, fifteen “dog-broke” ewes.
Which meant it was time to walk down the hill. Change was just around the corner, big change.
For three border collies, there could be no more meaningful event than the arrival of sheep in their backyard. For me, the change was more complex, but a big transition nonetheless, another midlife crapshoot. I was stepping out of one existence and into another, a shift inexorably linked to these three dogs.
We all clambered down the hill as the trailer descended into town. In a few minutes, this farm, known around the county as the old Keyes place—somehow I doubted it would ever be known as the old Katz place—with its listing and peeling dairy barn, an even more askew pig barn, an overgrown chicken pen, and several other outbuildings, would be home once again to livestock. Everyone in the tiny village could look up the hill and see animals grazing, as they had for generations.
I was no farmer, and this place wouldn’t really qualify as a working farm. I am a dog lover and writer,