Book Review: Let’s Have a Dog Party

15 Oct

I was puzzled as to why Ingrid Newkirk, founder and president of PETA, would write a book about dog parties. After all, it’s well known that PETA’s president opposes pet ownership. As she told Newsday (Long Island’s newspaper), “In the end, I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether.”

So why write a book about dog parties? If it’s better for dogs to live without human intervention, why in the world would she promote parties? All you have to do to answer this question is to glance at a few pages. Ingrid Newkirk, who has described herself as a “publicity slut,” wrote a book designed to appeal to dog consumers, the type who dress our dogs in clothes, take them on vacations, and throw parties for them, in order to push her anti-pet agenda … on us of all people. I believe it’s her desire to chastise this type of fully involved ‘pet parent’ into shame by means of this book. The cute cover photo of a dog with some balloons and confetti, the pink and green design, and the celebrity endorsements have probably enticed a few dog owners to buy the book. But then you begin to read it, and you come across the activist language that reveals Newkirk’s real agenda.

The entire first chapter is about how to praise your dog verbally. I’m not sure what this has to do with a book on dog parties, but it’s rife with insults and harsh judgments against people who carry their dogs in carriers, English speakers who don’t speak another language, and people who try to mimic Newkirk’s English accent. At the end of the chapter is a list of words you can say to your dog to tell the dog you love him/her. It occurs to me that if Newkirk really understood the people she’s writing for, she would know this entire chapter is superfluous.

More evidence of this struck me as I read Newkirk’s account of how a fellow PETA staffer’s dog enjoyed rolling around in anything dead. (She’s a dog, Ingrid. They all do.) Newkirk advises that we give the dog what he or she wants (Newkirk claims that she herself goes to the beach and collects smelly things like “decomposing crab limbs and fish spines” and mails them to the dog’s owner, so she can let the dog roll around in them. Her point is to find out what your dog REALLY wants to do when deciding what sort of party to throw. As Newkirk puts it, “Is there some unfulfilled talent, wish or pleasure that it is your duty, as the controller of your dog’s almost criminally restricted life, to ferret out of her?” Among the things she suggests that your dog might like is “winking.” I’m not kidding. It’s on page 28.

Sprinkled throughout this book are shocking stories of animal abuse, which really put me in the mood for a party. Also curious was her advice to warn any human guests who suffer from migraines that a dog party is not “a peaceful and sedate affair that one might expect in a library,” (does anyone expect it to be?) and encouraging hosts to tell human guests to wear overalls (because jumping and slobbering are encouraged). She spends several pages raving about a couple of famous mechanics who do a radio show, because, among other things, they advise listeners to go buy another car if their dog exhibits fear of riding in the current one. The author proves, page after page, that she has no idea what people who throw dog parties are like, or what their relationships with their dogs is like.

There’s lots of circling away from the topic of the book – which is parties – with such diversions as recommended hotels, hiking tips, movies that dogs might like, what religion a dog might be, why the symbol for the heart doesn’t look like a human heart, what Christopher Columbus thought of Chihuahuas, and a 30-question quiz to find out if you’re the type of pet owner you “ought” to be. The list, predictably, reads like it’s speaking to an animal activist, not a real pet owner. It includes such statements as, I never leave my dog overnight at the veterinarian, I will not make noise when my dog is trying to sleep, I will never make my dog get off the furniture, and I have provided for my dogs in my will. Predictably, there is a plea to make a donation to PETA.

Newkirk’s obvious contempt for dog owers – even as she tries to write a book for them – is evident in such passages as these:

  • When talking to your dog, “sit on the floor so your dog doesn’t have to look up at you for once and suffer compressed dics in her neck.”
  • “Remember that nasty animal experimentor Pavlov?”
  • “Party hats should not be worn by adult humans or dogs of any age.”
  • “Be clear that at this party … there will be no reprimands, harsh words or other improprieties.” Evidently, if a dog fight breaks out, Newkirk would choose let the dogs kill each other naturally, rather than employing any of that icky human intervention.

She gives practical ideas for invitations, such as making dog bone invitations (she then provides instructions for buying construction paper and cutting it into bone shapes … does anyone really need instructions for this?).

In the Guest List section, Newkirk states that “a hound would be happiest if the rest of the world spontaneously combusted, leaving just the two of you alone together.” Okay, a) why is this statement in a book about parties, and b) wouldn’t you think Newkirk would refrain from using language that reminds anyone of her staffer, Bruce Friedrich’s famous quote, “I think it would be a great thing if, you know, all these fast food outlets and slaughterhouses and laboratories and the banks that fund them exploded tomorrow”?

The rest of the book is about the same: random ramblings about stupid dog owners, stupid humans in general, the horrible treatment of animals (by people and organizations other than PETA, of course), and tales the good deeds of PETA, an organization that financies terrorism and openly opposes animal ownership of any kind. At one point, she recommends gifts for dogs, including one – permancy – in which she chides us, “It is the look in the eyes of every dog and cat who has been dumped at a shelter, while they watch their person walk out the door. And not compe back. Ever.” This from an organization which euthanizes more than 90% of the pets it takes in.

The bottom line is that like everything PETA touches, this book is filled with concepts of a loving pet/owner relationship that Newkirk herself does not believe in, and is designed to lecture, shame, self-aggrandize and most of all, separate you from your money. My advice? Take a long walk with your dog and keep your $12.95.


Posted by on October 15, 2008 in Dog Product Reviews, In the News


22 responses to “Book Review: Let’s Have a Dog Party

  1. Dog Clothes World

    February 2, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Isn’t it better off by spending the extra time on playing with our dogs than to read the book? I would rather have more memories with my dogs =)

  2. Dog Hair Dog Hair

    February 16, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing this book review. 🙂

  3. Black Labradors

    March 22, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Thanks for the awesome article.. I am actually going to link back to this article from my blog.


  4. Dog Bedding

    April 30, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    It is people like Newkirk that upset me so much. PETA goes over the edge on a lot of things. Their basis for existence is respectful. They want to protect animals from undue harm and torture by human hands. I get that, but they go too far with political agendas. Animals love safe, caring human interaction. She obviously can’t see that since she probably has never given love to an animal like the rest of us do.

  5. Baby Pushchairs

    May 8, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Thanks for this review. Although I love pets, I’m always interested in other peoples points of view and was considering reading Ingrid’s book. Now I don’t think I’ll bother.

  6. Baby Pushchairs

    July 9, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    I am a great lover of animals and I have grown up with pets of all kinds. As a kid, I was not allowed to keep dogs in the house by my family and so I used to build shelters for them outside the house. From my experience, I am sure that dogs love the company of human beings as much as a human being loves the dog’s company. A dog can truly become a human’s best friend. Though PETA is showing another point of view, it is going overboard in doing so. The bond of love that is shared by the dog with a human has not been understood by Ingrid Newkirk. I have read only the reviews of the book and don’t intend to read it as I am sure to get upset.

  7. Any Dog Breed

    August 5, 2009 at 12:07 am

    I was thinking about reading this too. Now I’m not so sure I will.

  8. Tabitha

    August 13, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    I can’t understand why the president of PETA would be against dog ownership. I really think most dog owners treat their dogs very well.

    Dog Clothing Central

  9. German Rottweiler breeders

    August 18, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I agree with the first post, I’d rather kinda spend the time with my dog than the book. 🙂

    Vom Bullenfeld German Rottweilers

  10. Dee

    August 24, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    PETA is a huge problem for animal rights. I place bets that if my dog had been taken to them he would have been put down. He had a few issues when I got him, but with a little “kindness” he is a very different dog. All he needed was love and excercise.

  11. JD

    September 4, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I may be on the slow boat but I just heard that PETA is advocates for the extinction of perceived “fighting breeds” like Pits, Rotties, and German Shepards. How is this advocating respect for animal treatment? Also, how can having a “party” for a dog not be a lame attempt at anthropomorphizing them. They are dogs, they want our time and love and to play with us, and other dogs. If they want to wear party hats, that’s really up to them.

  12. Small Dog Training

    October 9, 2009 at 3:58 am

    I’d rather spend the time with my puppy to tell you the truth

  13. Randolph

    October 20, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Thank you for this post and bringing PETA’s positions and this book on “dog parties” to my attention. As a Labrador retriever based in New York and one who is more than adequately cared for by a human (and, in fact, is often the more than adequate carer for this very same human), I think the PETA philosophy (particularly this dog party nonsense) strikes me as human-centric. Dog parties are not for the animal’s good, let me assure you having witnessed many unpleasantries at our famous Manhattan dog runs. The PETA position seems more for the satisfaction of some pleasure certain humans get for pursuing their ideologies put into action no matter what other humans, dogs and, yes, cats think about it. This is a weakness in humans. Dogs, on the other hand, while having other weaknesses, instinctually understand that their relationships with humans while sometimes challenging are well worth it. Long live the bond between man and canine.

  14. alldogsbigandsmall

    January 2, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Well at this time I remain undecided as to read this book or not, it sounds as though I may become upset, on the other paw, being the curious canine that I am, I may have to read for myself this book that inspired such controversy amongst fellow dogs and their people.
    Tay Czar

  15. Maclaren triumph

    January 6, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I am with the majority here in that I would rather spend the time with my lovely to dogs than read the book

  16. Dino Dogan

    April 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    I think you are right on the money (no pun intended). Principles go out the window when the advance comes in. I dont agree with the notion of dogs and humans ignoring each other (i thinks its biologically impossible) but if thats what you believe in then stick to your guns.

  17. KozyDogs

    September 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Me too I’d rather spend my spare time with my pup!


    January 26, 2011 at 6:02 am

    haha… thanks for the advice. I think your post simply did the book justice.

  19. Ria

    May 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Why was that book published at all? Hmmm..doesnt makes sense at all..Thanks for this article, made me aware that such book exists and that I should watch out for it! haha

  20. Noah's Ark Custom Pet Photography

    June 29, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Wow – what a waste of money and time. If the author truly cared so stinkin’ much about animals and their welfare, she’d put her money where her mouth is, and furthermore she should go out in the real world and see what animals actually need from humans. What a joke.

  21. dogloverofmax

    February 1, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Great article!


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