Review: A Famous Dog's Life

When I took my copy of A Famous Dog’s Life into the exam room at my doctor’s in New Mexico, her nurse looked at the cover and asked: Is that the Taco Bell dog? Chihuahuas are everywhere in my neighborhood and I can’t tell one from the other.

I’m a little more in tune now, thanks to this book, by Sue Chipperton and Rennie Dyball, which was a good read and an education for me. Chipperton trains dogs—and other animals—for television commercials and movies and the Taco Bell dog, whose real name was Gidget, lived with Chipperton so the story is not only about Gidget’s role in commercials and movies, but their life together. Thus, we learn how and where they traveled, how they lived on the road and how Gidget—and other animals trained by Chipperton and friends—met a long list of movie stars, including my favorite Clint Eastwood.

As a freelance photographer, I learned a couple of things that might come in handy should someone ever ask me to shoot a portrait of her dog or cat. It all comes down to associating a desired behavior with a desired sound—and then a treat. That works on me, too.

Chipperton thanks Dyball for “suffering through my edits,” and I must commend Dyball, a former student of mine, for maintaining Chipperton’s voice throughout. It’s the mark of a good editor to let the right voice through, and in this book, the voice is true and consistent.

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