Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

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The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

A Novel

by David Wroblewski

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2008, 576 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2009, 480 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

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Beyond the Book

Dog Training Methods & The Seeing Eye
Edgar Sawtelle would not have much to say—or sign—to the Dog Whisperer. Cesar Millan, the star of "The Dog Whisperer" on the National Geographic Channel, is known for his "pack-oriented" philosophy, which traces canine behavior back to their survival instinct for living in highly organized packs led by a single, strong leader. As Millan's website states, "[I]n order to properly fulfill both our dogs and ourselves, we each need to become our canine's calm-assertive pack leader." And so Millan teaches dog owners to exert dominance over their dogs—a practice found in many dog behavior books. His work has drawn criticism from other trainers who believe that countering canine aggression with human aggression is a dangerous tactic.

By contrast, the Sawtelles view their dogs as equals. In one achingly beautiful scene, Edgar's mother Trudy teaches Edgar how to train his dog Finch. She asks Edgar to command Finch to...

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