After reading Bash Dibra’s latest book, I remain unconvinced that everyone’s pet dog or cat longs (or needs) to be a star. However, almost any animal- loving person should enjoy much of StarPet, written by Dibra, an award-winning animal trainer, with the help of Kitty Brown.
Two of the most enjoyable parts of the book are Dibra’s history, especially with the guard dogs in the internment camp in Yugoslavia (after World War II) who became his childhood friends and his first link to his life’s work (“my refuge in that dismal refugee camp”), and the story of the gray wolf, Mariah, who Dibra raised along with his dogs. Mariah enjoyed a long span of movie and commercial engagements, including a role in the film, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and work as a “cover girl” for Revlon’s Gypsy Gold ad campaign.
The training segments are useful and well-illustrated, ostensibly provided in order to prepare your dog or cat to attend auditions for commercials, TV soap operas or movies. Yes, Dibra assures his readers, you can train a cat. The three characteristics most important for personal training of your pet, according to the author , are “the three P’s, Patience, Persistence, and Praise.” More will be expected of a dog or cat in show business than at home, keep in mind. However, these tips are excellent for everyday manners training, as well.
The tone of the book is friendly and knowledgeable, but perhaps overly enthusiastic. Dibra uses far too many exclamation points, long out of favor with most serious writers, and quite off-putting. However, to the author’s credit, his love and reverence for animals shines through clearly.
If, in fact, a reader does wish to train his/her dog or cat for show biz, the steps are all here. Dibra also offers live workshops on just this topic; more information can be found on his websites, www.bashdibra.com or www.pawsacrossamerica.com.
Apparently, this is quite a lucrative pursuit should your dog or cat be especially cute and adaptable. Animals in “…the circle of high performers” make anywhere from $500 to $1,500 a day, and superstars like Lassie and Benji can make from $5,000 to $10,000 a day. Our dog would do it for marrowbones and Frisbees.