Reading anything by Vicki Hearne is a daunting experience; surely not for the faint hearted.
There is an intellectual rigor to her writing that brings all of her gifts and talents to bear.
She was not just an animal trainer who drew high praise from her peers – Carol Lea Benjamin, Donald Craig and Elizabeth Marshall, to name a few.
Hearne was also a poet and a philosopher. She had STRONG opinions about all kinds of controversial subjects and she wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade as she saw it.
If part of that calling was a “Fuck you,” dismissal, that was a part of her too.
I suspect, and all that I have to go on are the words themselves, which is truly as it should be, that Vicki Hearne didn’t suffer fools gladly.
Human fools, that is.
She believed that “…pets possess courage, wisdom and intellect … In her writing she used real animals she had encountered to show that pets have not only an intellect, but also a desire to achieve and be challenged and a capacity for moral understanding.” (NY Times, obituary; Aug. 27, 2001. Helen Verongos)
Pretty heady stuff.
She wrote with a verbal sword. And, she was smart about it. Which means that when you read her books, you have to be smart too. Which means that you have to pay close attention.
Which means that you may need to read her books more than once.
Some of what she wrote is dated material. As one example, at the time that Bandit was published (2007), the state of Ohio had a breed ban on pit bull terriers.
That ban was recently over-turned. Too late for Vicki Hearne to rejoice. She died in 2001. But, what she knew and wrote about dogs: how she observed them, how she worked with them, how she interpreted them in addition to all of the Things That Pissed Her Off, are still as valuable today as they were when her books first came into print.
I’m slowly making my way through Bandit and when I’m done with this one, I have Animal Happiness and Adam’s Task waiting in the wings. I have a feeling that I’ll reference some of what she writes about here. In future posts. Because I believe that what Hearne wrote about is still important, and because I might be able to better wrap my brain around it when I can hash it out in my own words.
Dog training with a PhD. – as only Vicki Hearne could write it.