Wow! What a wonderful review! Thank you so much to Peter Dillon for taking the time to offer his well considered thoughts. It is much appreciated, and I will make use of his ideas if and when we go to a second edition. I’ve added my responses in bracketed italics.
Where to start!
Well, one thing to bear in mind, the comments are coming from one who really has not enough experience to direct towards somebody who has (and having re-read my missive, should know better and keep quiet!).
The outward appearance and feel of the book is of high quality. The perfect binding and paper quality (weight and coating) allied with the ink density – most pleasing. Very clean cut.
Font – clean, white space – works well.
Number of pages – not disappointing.
Vocabulary – well chosen, tightly constructed sentences.
Whilst reading the book from front to back – I realised quite early on that I was starting via. comparison to relate too critically towards my GSD. It generated an unpleasant feeling inside.
I stopped – considered and then concluded the book’s aim was not to engender such feelings. I stopped ticking off the good and bad points as if needing to gain a final score. I will not ever have “the” perfect dog – be content with what I have. Learn to appraise the breed in general.
Her pasterns still irritate me though!
Comments found on page six – are to my mind, a critical series of points that should be in big red letters with the rest of the book being locked until:
- Have you read this section?
- Do you understand this section?
- Do you agree with the points in the section?
Any person answering “NO” or suggestions of waivering mental debate to any of the above – is not given access to the rest of the book.
Images of notable dogs – understanding the difficulties in digitising paper sources, quality is variable (pages 78 / 88) but when linking to the feature they are typifying they are relevant. I think that it would have been useful to have a date associated with the photo when possible.
(Sadly, for many of the dogs pictured, the images were as good as it got. It sometimes came down to a choice of using a poor image of Cathwar’s Lisa v Rob or Hessians’ Vogue, or nothing at all. These were two of the most beautiful females ever produced, and I very much wanted to include them.)
GSD trotting: Image 3 and image 4 (page 160 – 161) – back far side limb in image three suggests placement inside the front far side limb whereas in image four it is actually passing on the outside of the front far limb. In the video on the web – Dingo shows inside through reach on the limbs nearest the camera and outside through reach on the limbs furthest from the camera.
(The image on page 160 looks like a toenail got in the way! It will be getting a clip. But the others are accurate to the video sequence that I have. The challenge was selecting images that coincided as closely as possible to the same stride phase as those of the wolf. It was amazing how each and every stride changed in timing and positioning, even though on the normal video each stride looks pretty much the same as the last.)
Would have been useful to have diagrammatic representation of the paw sequence allied to the track pattern for the different gaits and trots.
(Time! Frankly, after a year of full time work on the book I was running out of gas! I focused on what I thought were the most important issues of gait, and did include a track pattern for the trot).
The diagrammatic representations of the GSD with standard or “idealised” structure / conformation do not stand out from the many examples of the deviations from standard. Therefore, they don’t become fixtures in the mind’s eye. Would be useful to have those with distinctive starting focal point (hey – look at me attitude!) from which to develop and indicate the examples that are mentioned as problematic.
The vast majority of drawings are clean, highly individualistic in style and convey the message intended.
Do not like the spine representation as found on pages 62 – 63. Looks like a misplaced tube. This point was solidified in my mind having seen / read:
(I used detailed, vertebrae by vertebra illustrations for the normal spine, and one detailing the roached spine. Doing detailed images for every image would have added another month of work, and on the smaller scale I thought these images could have become very “busy”. I felt the silhouettes of the various spines communicated the points I was making about their curvature and other issues. But maybe not. Next time I might try to detail more of the thoracic and lumbar dorsal spines and make them look more like backbones.)
The lower skeletal representation is far more pleasing and informative for me. (are you placing the individual bones separately to create the positioning? I have inklings of a personal project that would no doubt totally confirm to my wife that “I’ve lost it”).
(Partly to indicate positioning, and partly to focus on the elements of the anatomy under discussion.)
So, having been picky, is the book a success?
For myself – most certainly.
I presume that there will be many who will not be swayed by your reasoning regarding structure in relation to working prowess – that I am sure you realize.
(Oh yes! I have even received hate mail!)
Your evidence via. diagrams and supporting textual comment hopefully will engender debate and put those who infer present show GSD evolution as still driving towards a structurally sound creature are on a wobbly footing (pun intended).
There must be many like myself who relish the beauty of the W. German showline but do not want to be hobbled with a dog that is unable to perform such activities as demanded by UK Working trials (and the like).
Some purists may state that if I do not want a civil dog then the GSD is not for me. I understand the point but consider it elitist. To my way of thinking – the original herding requirement did / does not recognise such a temperament as being a benefit. Both extremes (crippled showlines and prey monsters to steal the common parlance of descriptive language used by partisan fanatics) should be avoided.
To cover all the features and parts that bring it to a package that results in a 9.5/10 review would generate pages of un-necessary hyperbole. Simply put:
Your efforts have a good chance of being considered a classic production. One that hopefully stands the test of time. The difference between creating a pamphlet and a text is enormous.
Your dedication to the breed is portrayed visually in a most demonstrative manner. I shall take this opportunity to stop before digging myself into a bigger hole.
Thank you so much.
PS: If needed, re-read my first sentence!
THE ILLUSTRATED STANDARD FOR THE GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG
Written and Illustrated by Linda J Shaw.
This book is proving to be probably the fastest selling book on the breed ever published. It is certainly the most comprehensive, with 200 pages and nearly 500 of my drawings illustrating the structure, anatomy and gaits of the German Shepherd Dog. It is absolutely the most detailed and accurate source of information available anywhere. I have put particular focus on the two issues that have most plagued the breed in America and Germany: excess rear angulation and the roach back. No one who studies the material in this book will be in any doubt about what is and isn’t normal structure and gait in a working dog. I have also included about 90 photographs of really beautifully structured dogs, of many different bloodlines, past and present.
For more pictures, click on the Illustrated Standard tab above.
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