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Training Sammy

A Memoir

by Linda Farris Kurtz

Pages: 176
ISBN: 978-145751-183-7
List Price: 15.00
Category: Nonfiction
Available: July 2012
Edition: Perfectbound paperback and E-book

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When I retired, training a dog was the last thing on my mind, but a shaggy, black scamp called Sammy entered my life  and my world turned inside out. My story tells how I civilized his behavior through training at a local dog club. His aptitude for rally obedience enticed me to continue. Sammy was a pretty good competitor, except for his barking; it was me who had difficulty learning the sport. We spent an agonizing year attending one trial after another, while I gave unclear cues, got lost in the show ring, missed stations, and almost was tossed out of the sport altogether, until I finally got the hang of it.  We earned a fine collection of ribbons. An introverted academic,I never quite fit in with the social world of dog people. But, in the end,we triumphed. The book covers our first three years together.


  • A delightful story about how an unruly mixed breed dog became a rally obedience champion. But it is also a story about how Sammy trained Prof. Linda Kurtz and her husband Ernie. Imagine Ernie in virtual chauffeur’s cap driving Sammy and Prof. Kurtz comfortably ensconced in the rear on a scenic back-country tour. You’ll be moved by how Linda (along with her vets and help via the Internet) pulled Sammy through near lethal bouts of pancreatitis and epilepsy.
  • Training Sammy takes readers inside the hearts of a homeless dog and the just-retired professor who rescues him. Those looking for insight on dog training will find much more in these pages. There are the high dramas of Sammy’s survival from unexpected and life-threatening health crises, the increasingly endearing relationship between Sammy and Professor Kurtz and their entry into the unique cultures of dog clubs, dog shows and competitive sport rallies. Readers will be inspired by the shared courage and tenaciousness that will take Sammy from a rescue shelter to a nationally-ranked rally champion. In this heart-warming story, Professor Kurtz discovers that in training Sammy she must also face and accept her own limitations.
  • Highly recommended!!! Congratulations to Linda and Ernie for raising and training Sammy.
  • This is a delightful, warm story about a professor in retirement who meets her match – and he has four legs and a tail!! Going through the obedience dog rallies step by step, the author takes you to the unexpected outcome of this lovable mutt going from a rescue shelter dog to a champion with national rankings. This story shows there are probably many “gems in the rough” among rescue dogs who are about to be killed.
  • I enjoyed reading Linda and Sammy’s story – I felt her stress when she realized her new dog was not the dog of her dreams and her determination to overcome Sam’s issues and reveal the good dog she knew he could be; I cried when Sammy was sick with pancreatitis and found myself holding my breath with every seizure.  The story is about training Sammy, but it’s also about Linda and how she gained confidence in herself in and out of the ring.  I recommend this book for anyone who has ever adopted an adult dog and discovered behavioral issues, anyone who has trained a dog and thought about trying competition obedience, and anyone who has ever considered stepping outside his/her comfort level and trying something completely different.  Linda and Sammy’s story is a testament to what can be achieved when you don’t give up or get distracted by things you can’t control.

Book Signing Party September 29, 2012

About 30 people attended a book signing party at Earhart Village Clubhouse in Ann Arbor.  Funds raised by selling books went to the Animal Rescue Connection, the group that saved Sammy’s life in 2004.  Sammy performed for the audience and I read sections of the book.  See Sammy performing below.

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