The moving story of the author's adopted Rottweiler mix, Lou, a free-thinking heroic dog who changed his life forever
Born of guard dogs on a secret marijuana farm in Mendicino County, Lou truly was one dog in a million. On the winter day that the ailing, tick-infested feral pup was rescued by Steve Duno, neither dog nor man had a clue as to what they were getting into, or where the relationship would lead. Last Dog on the Hill tells the story of an indigent young Rottweiler mix who, after abandoning his pack and the hills of his birth, went on to change the lives of hundreds of people and dogs, including the author's, whose career as a behaviorist and writer was made possible through Lou's extraordinary intelligence and heart. Lou won the respect of gang members, foiled an armed robbery, caught a rapist, fought coyotes and kidnappers, comforted elderly war veterans and Alzheimer patients in their final days, taught ASL to kids, learned scores of unique behaviors and tricks, amassed a vocabulary of nearly 200 words, helped rehabilitate hundreds of aggressive dogs and saved them from euthanasia. He was also a clown, consummate performer and Steve's best friend for sixteen years. His story will make readers laugh and cry in equal measures.
Veteran pet behaviorist/author Steve Duno has to date authored eighteen books and scores of magazine and web articles. He has covered a wide variety of subject matter on both dogs and cats, including basic training, aggression, environmental enrichment, behavior modification, breed profiling, trick training, and pet health care. His career in dog training began in 1989 when he rescued Lou, a feral six month-old Rottweiler/shepherd. The offspring of guard dogs on a Mendocino marijuana grow, the sick and injured Lou was both smart and wild. In an effort to tame the intelligent pup, Duno inadvertantly began his twenty year career as a behaviorist and trainer. Together, Duno and Lou helped to save hundreds of dogs from euthanasia. Formerly a teacher in New York City and Los Angeles, he currently lives in Seattle with his family and an ever-changing assortment of rescued pets.
One of the best books about the love between a four-legged soul and human that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The bond between Lou and Steve is so beautiful and it's plainly obvious how much this man cherishes his dog Lou. As a massive canine lover this amazing story made me laugh and cry. Crying is probably not descriptive enough, I bawled for days over this book.. It's a story that will remain with me for the rest of my life. It's always good to know that there are others out there that cherish these beautiful souls as much as I do!
I am really surprised at all the negative comments about this book. I loved it. And I believe that Lou was quite an exceptional dog. My first dog was a collie who “put down“ any squabbles in the same method as Lou does. Lou seems like an extraordinary dog when it comes to learning. it is obvious that he totally bonded with Duno. We dog lovers know what lengths our dogs will go to to please us. The fact that Lou was just so savvy about other dogs; their attitudes, their fears and what to do in each case is remarkable. Maybe part of the comes from the fact that he was a semi-feral dog in his first months and let his intuition rain free of any human interference. The only problem (and it’s a huge problem.) I had with this book and this author, was that he let Lou Lou suffer not only pain but terrible indignation for far too long. It is so very selfish and such a horrible thing to sacrifice your wonderful dog’s attributes for your own selfish, unrealistic desires. No, we don’t put down humans for many of these problems, but when we have have to let a loved one suffer through months of debilitating pain and the loss of all dignity when there is no hope, because of the law, I believe it’s a terrible, terrible thing. How many of us humans pray to never have to die in such away? Now, for some come comments I made while reading the book. There are quite a few but you could always just stop. Page 56 … I let these night deposits lie, partially for the difficulty of fishing them out, but mostly because I knewthe rats were attracted to feces. No dog owner should ever ever let their dogs feces lie, let alone, to purposely attract rats. For one thing, a child or teen may step in it and you’ve made a future politician anti-dog. For another thing who wants more rats? Not right for any reason. Nasty!
Always beware, no matter where you are, people steal dogs and usually it’s for nefarious reasons. In this case, a big, husky dog could be turned in to a vicious killer by continued, extreme crurlity. There are many people who fight dogs out there. Horrible, horrible fate.
“He’d protected me and shown what he is capable off…“ I will never forget many years ago my large, sweet, love-everybody collie reared up, when my brother-in-law, as a silly kid, jumped out from between trees to scare us. Satin laid his paws on the chest of nearly 6 foot Lars and stopped with just 6 inches between soft neck and flashing teeth. Thank goodness for that courage and judgment.
“To this day I regret not going...” Is is something we all should remember. Of course, we don’t want to put ourselves or others in harms way but so often we regret the things we didn’t do. The “chances of a lifetime“ that we passed on. Those are the ones we remember, with regret.
“When Colleen looked at you she looked right at you, unblinking, taking in what you had to say, analyzing it, then answering without facade …”. Other than the unblinking stare, I’m really going to try to listen to people this way.
“When the old marine broke down, Lou went to him, rested his head in the man’s lap, and looked up at him with compassion. “Oh Shep, Shep,“he sobbed rubbing lose head over and over, where are you‘s faces from long ago now sharp and clear,...” I experienced this miracle between our elder citizens and my dog, Katy, when I worked as a volunteer for a hospice, Vitas. It is a miracle. And beyond rewarding for the dog owner.
Yes, a dog like Lou should definitely have been bred, but if he wasn’t going to be bred they should have neutered him much earlier. Neutering prevents a lot of cancers. Lou’s a lucky dog.
Yes. Pure breeds are not necessarily better and often worse in temperament & health issues than our lovable mutts. The fact that these dog shows applaud the cutting off of tails and the docking of ears for no purpose other than tradition, sullies them in my eyes. Dog shows have turned into nothing but another way for elitists to strut their stuff.
I know over-doing some situations make the story better, but just to set things straight… In Pittsburgh we have fairly decent winter weather. A lot of the big snows are funneled around us because of the Allegheny Mountains. We may get one or two a year that necessitate the high boots but last time The snowfall came to my waist I was three. The problem is the East Coast. Bigger snow, more ice… Danger!
Sometimes hard to know what to rate a book. In this case between a 4 and a 5. I am going to give it a 5 for the amazing dog Lou is and the amazing stuff he did. What I don’t like is that, while I am not quite as bad as people who don’t like it when the dog dies in the end of the book, I am not a fan when the last two chapters are related to health problems ending in the dog’s death. There were some other little things that rubbed me a little wrong, but there is so much good I will keep it as a 5 but not add it to my category for favorite dog books.
Love how he found the dog on the side of the road as described in this paragraph that is obviously where he came up for the title for the book: “Following their skittish mother up into the tree line, the pups were nearly out of sight. I gave a quick whistle just to see what would happen; all but one scampered off. But the last dog on the hill stopped, gazed down at the road, then made a mad downhill dash toward us, as if recognizing someone.
So he has a choice to take the dog home (after taking him to the vet as he was wounded and covered in ticks and fleas). He author writes what he is thinking:
I had imagined it this way: find a caring breeder, choose the perfect, healthy pup, frame the pedigree, and live happily ever after. I hadn’t planned on making a snap decision beside the road with giant dogs and dead deer and caffeinated truckers and ganja fields and boyish rangers and sweet gypsy eyes looking up at me, wondering when we’d be going home.
So early in the book he talks about two trainers he tried out that lead him to become his own trainer. The first: “…showed up an hour late in a primer-gray Ford pickup with three enraged pit bulls in the canopied back, desperate to break out and devour something. A better advertisement a dog trainer could not have. A muscle-bound bald man in a striped T-shirt and jeans stepped out of the truck, which had Uri’s Obedience Training stenciled onto the door in red paint. A winged pit bull tattooed on his neck had a bloody goat in its mouth, an arrow-tipped tail, and devil’s horns.”
The second trainer is described as a lady ‘at least six, six, 250 pounds.’ When he asks for help with Lou’s destructive habits, the trainer dismissive the concepts of his ‘possessions.’ While she only proposed positive training methods, she says that ‘Dogs are natural communists.’ “Lou will sense you letting go of your possessive nature, which will in turn cause him to value the things less and lost interest. Combine that with some distraction training and the behavior will be extinguished.”
I felt these two trainers were embellished.
Seems like he worked at his prose. Sometimes I think he went a little too far, but most of the time worked for me. I liked this little bit:
Dogs and owners flew by us like drunken Iditarod entrants. Like mimes in a tempest, the owners could barely stand, and were clues as to where their dogs would drag them that morning.
In the book he works according to him on hundreds of dogs to help them cure behavior issues, but very little is told of what he did. Wish there would be more to learn from, but perhaps he is saving them for another book, or just holding on to trade secrets. One bit:
The first thing I often did with fearful dogs like Solo drew laughs from the other trainers. I’d walk into the dog’s kennel with a book, sit down, and read aloud.
Another involved a Mastiff that was biting the Hispanic gardeners. He ‘fixes’ the dog, but when he takes him back to his owner, it will be up to the owner to keep control. Made me laugh the discussion with the gardeners:
“When you go, he will treat him like a baby again,” said the driver. “And we will all be killed.” “I want to live,” said the stout gardener.
Having Lou as a calming and controlling force is what really helps a lot of dogs calm down and behave. And it was something he describes Lou loving to do:
He couldn’t wait to run a mad dog tired, then lick his face, or doge a killing bite, then teach a foolish young dog how to look forward to things. Lou was brave and sure and he didn’t care if some tormented meathead of a dog tried to rip out his throat because he knew he was too fast, too smart, too linked in to wilder sympathies. Lou knew that sooner or later he’d find a dog’s button, discover what it needed in order to feel that it was part of something, part of the world again instead of that friendless, dogless pace where it couldn’t help but feel afraid or angry or lost.
There was a lot of good in the book, but if you don’t like kleenix at the end of dog book, stop before the last two chapters.
First off, this is a true story and the "dog dies at the end", but this should not keep one from reading a truly marvelous book. Yhere are just too many good things in this book that will awe any animal lover.
Steve Duno and his girl friend were on a short trip in California when they pulled over to the side of the road when they spotted a German Shepherd and her brood. They quickly ran into the woods. Steve whistled and a lone pup came out and went to their side. It was then that they saw the father, a Rottweiler that was feeding on a deer carcass.
The pup was flea infested and had a nasty cut from barb wire on its neck. Steve was convinced by his girl friend to take the dog.
The dog, now named "Lou", had some learning to do. The first time that Steve left the house, for only five minutes, Lou proceeded to rip the entire rug up from the living room floor, destroy a door, and a window.
Through a lot of trial and error a dog emerged that was not only faithful, loyal, and loving, but one who seemed to have some exceptional qualities.
Lou during his long life, was able to foil a convenience store robbery, attack a rapist, and fought off coyotes, and kidnappers.
His grestest achievements though may well have come in the area of working with children, the elderly, and dogs, especially dogs that may have been destined for euthanasia. Lou helped children overcome their fear of dogs, gave the elderly comfort, and brought unruly dogs back under control.
Steve and Lou became inseparable friends over their 16 years together and in the heart wrenching ending Steve looks over their life together and is faced with the dilemma of living withour this marvelous dog.
Sad? Yes, but there is so much good in this book that it is worth the two boxes of Kleenex.
When I picked up Last Dog on the Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou I only meant to have a quick look at the pictures and was sidetracked by Steve Duno's charming writing style and his uncommonly sharp perceptive of what it means to genuinely love a dog.
In just a few pages, Steve Duno and Lou surprised a laugh so sudden and sincere that I involuntarily spit all over the pages. My DNA was now blotting the beginning of this book and I had no choice but to buy it- for hygiene's sake.
I was not disappointed by my purchase.
This is truly a delightful book for anyone who has ever loved a dog—and experienced the wonder of being loved back.
What do I think? I think I should have reviewed this right away upon finishing instead of waiting until I read another three books. I think Duno should have ditched the 'extraordinary' angle. It's almost offensive. Lou isn't unique in the sense Duno describes. There are plenty, plenty, plenty, plenty of dogs (and other animals) in this world that, given the right chance, will do just the same thing(s) Lou here did. Now, I'm not trying to take away from Lou in any way. Lou was indeed a fantastic dog it seems. But he was not extraordinary. I think Duno's love for him got in the way here. I didn't get the whole 'going to a breeder to buy a dog' thing after rescuing Lou. Did he not understand about other dogs in need of rescuing? I'm not saying anyone who goes to a breeder is a bad person but really? I went to a breeder. Before I knew about rescuing, when I was younger. Every animal we've owned since then, besides two turtles, has been rescued. (No, I don't think I'm better than anyone else but I do think that breeding is borderline - maybe not borderline - irresponsible with all of the strays and adoptable animals in this country and the world.) Anyway, unless I'm remembering wrong, Duno didn't know for sure that Lou came from "guard dogs on a hidden marijuana patch". Hearing this from someone standing on the side of the road isn't really the making of facts most times. But whatever. It lends to the 'extraordinary' angle. Duno says in the book that he "regrets" not freezing Lou's sperm. (I'm serious, deadly serious.) So, because Lou was just so gosh darn extraordinary let's forget all about the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of other awesome and fantastic dogs and let's breed some more. Yes. Definitely an awesome way to honor Lou's memory. Now, it may sound like I didn't enjoy this book. I did. I just knocked out the extraordinary bit. I think Duno thought another dog book about a regular old dog wouldn't sell so he came up with this. (Just about anyone can make their dog look the same. My Lab knows, by estimation, right around the same amount of words Lou knew and if Duno can take a rumor and sell it as fact as to where Lou came from I can turn my story into something extraordinary also.) What Duno forgot though, it seems, is that a dog lover will love a good dog story (if it's well written) about ANY dog. He doesn't have to be extraordinary. Hence the genre selling so well. I was pleased to read about the publisher for the book Duno was writing because apparently Duno and a friend were going to put Lou and a wolf on the cover of the book. Not a bad idea right? Pretty cool even. But the publisher was scared it would promote wolf owning. I hadn't thought of that (in my defense this was only a few paragraphs at best) but it is true. It would promote owning a wolf in some dumb idiot out there. It was so nice to hear of a publisher (or anyone) taking the reins there even though the cover would have made a great marketing tool. The best part of the book for me, besides the "regular old Lou" parts was when Lou went to the nursing home and bonded with the veteran. I'll even admit that I almost cried when he called Lou 'Shep'. I don't know for sure but I think that this man's Shep was, possibly, the same Shep written about in Always Faithful: A Memoir of the Marine Dogs of WWII by William W. Putney. That Shep, if I remember correctly and I hope I do, was buried in Guam in the Marine cemetery for war dogs. I wish I still had Always Faithful although unless I'm just forgetting I don't think the veteran's name was mentioned in this book and Shep's owner in Always Faithful could have also not been mentioned. Interesting nonetheless, I think. I'd have liked this more but for the few things I mentioned and this has a lot of great reviews. (Not that it's any indicator. I can link a few freaking horrible books with great reviews.) Cut out the extraordinary and enjoy the book the usual way.
Terrific book about a one-in-a-million dog and his relationship to Steve, who found him as a flee- and tick- infested puppy at the side of a road, and spent 16 remarkable years with him. Ignore the (few) negative reviews, written, I'm sure, by joyless misanthropes and whatever the word is for folks who can't abide stories about amazing animals and the people who love them. This book is filled with the adventures of Lou (the dog) and Steve, and how, together, they train countless dogs who had been given up as hopeless... A lovely relationship, a lovely story, which, you will know, ends with Lou's death, but, although it might make you cry like a baby (if you're like me), know that Lou lived a wonderful, FULL 16 years, and brought joy to many folks...
Lou is a gorgeous Rottweiler cross dog who is much smarter than the average dog. He knew over 100 words and commands through sign language. Steve Duno is a pet behaviorist, whom along with Lou helped hundreds of dogs be rehabilitated back into society, be it from naughty behaviour or just needed some confidence and stop being shy. I will say right off the bat, that this isn't a happy ending book, but Lou lived to be a very good age of 16. The whole book revolves around Steve and Lou's life together, the work they did with children and other dogs. You can tell through out the book that Steve truly loved Lou with all of his heart, and Lou looked up to Steve like an idol. I do think that the book lacked somewhat, since the WHOLE book was about how he trained Lou, so I think that maybe the book could have been shortened down a little, but overall it was still a pretty good read. The ending really had me tearing up at the end, and this is the only book that I have read that has made me tear up. https://lovebookreviewsblog.wordpress...
Just when I think I have heard all of the dog stories there are to tell along comes a gem like this one. The writer lives this story day-to-day and sometimes minute-to-minute.
When I wake up in the morning I never know where my day will take me beyond the required tasks at hand but along comes life and it shakes up your well planned day. This is how this story begins - a chance encounter when Steve Duno happened to be at the right time and the right place when he found Lou. Or is it that Lou was at the right time and the right place when he found Steve? I guess I will never know the answer to this one but it doesn't matter because the substance in this story is pure joy and amazement.
Who would have thought that a stray dog had the gifts that Lou did and who knew that Steve could train a dog with such patience and insight and be so successful with what he accomplished with his dog Lou?
I would never have thought that you could train a dog so well that you could use this same dog to be a mentor to other dogs who seemed to have gotten lost along the way. And I had no idea that one dog could be so many things at once. I didn't know that dogs could be so multidimensional but Lou was. He had layer upon layer of personality and intelligence so that when I got to the end of the book I cried my eyes out because I felt like I had just lost a wonderful friend.
I hope you will take a chance on this book. I am so very glad that I did.
There's not a whole lot to this book. 250 pages that could have been summarized as, "Who's a good dog? YOU'RE a good dog!" Lou was a good dog, no doubt about it. And it was a nice little story, but not a whole lot to get worked up about. The author's obvious enthusiasm for his subject is infectious, though, and was just enough to carry me through to the end. If you've read the author's other books (I'm not familiar with them), you might find this more interesting, as Lou is the reason he became an animal-training expert, apparently. But for me, it just barely held my interest.
If you love dogs, if you rescue dogs, read this book! You will laugh, you will cry, you will be amazed. This was a feral pup of six months who came out of the hills of California and adopted a man who happened to be passing by. His girlfriend talked him into adopting the flea ridden, tick infested guy, (the dog, not the man) and it changed his life in just about everyway possible. You will not be disappointed.
When I say “I wish I had known Lou,” I really mean it. The way Steve Duno describes his friendship with the adventurous Lou, many people have said the same thing. The intelligence, character, wisdom, and humor of his dog, Lou, really shine in this tribute, “The Last Dog on the Hill.” How he found Lou, their adventures and the lives they touched, make up the story. If you don't currently have a dog - you'll start wishing for one like this in your life. -Margaret Abbott-
I can never go too long without getting my fix of heart-warming animal books. Things I particularly liked about this book were its inside look at serious dog-training and the fact that Lou was like Rin-Tin-Tin -- only better! He chased down REAL bad guys! The inevitable end was heart-wrenching (no one stops Father Time) but a fitting tribute to the depth of the human-animal bond.
I really had to push myself to finish this book, and while I wish I could be one of those people who just leaves a book halfway through to move on to another one, I am not. I have a grotesque compulsion to read each and every book, otherwise I feel I'm cheating myself. I'm absolutely a sucker for books about the relationships between dogs and their humans, and though I am about as obsessed with my dog as they come, even I found this book to be a tad heavy-handed. I get the man loved his dog, but every damn paragraph was about how his dog was the fastest, how his dog was the smartest, how his dog was beloved by all. From the photos the dog looks like he was a nice dog, but sheesh, from the way he was described I would have thought he'd have been Adonis incarnate. It was definitely not my favorite read, but I will say that Duno's saving grace was the poignant epilogue he wrote to Lou. It was really heart-felt and I think I connected more to Duno and Lou in THOSE few paragraphs than in the whole book.
O my! What a story...and what makes it doubly wonderful is the fact that it is a true story.
Written with a sense of humor and great heart, you get to really "know" Lou in this book. You grow to understand that Lou was no ordinary dog, but one of those rare animals that are more like a human in an animal coat. And you grow to love this dog as if he were in your very own home.
Kleenix warning: keep a box close at hand when you come to the end of the book.
As I read I was thinking of all the people I know who would equally enjoy this book, trying to decide who I might pass it on to. But by the end, I decided I can't part with the book just yet. I want to live with it on my sheves for awhile...you know...just in case I may want to revisit it in the near future.
I've read many books about dogs both fiction and nonfiction. This is one that I will always remember. From page one, you know Lou will pass on, but throughout the book, this wonderful being makes you want to beg God to make him immortal. Steve Duno lays his heart and soul, along with Lou's, on every page. I pondered, laughed, cried, I put off finishing the book for a day as if I could keep Lou alive. Mostly, I thought about my Lou. His name was Kalay. We had to help him leave the pain behind after a tumor ruptured on his spleen in October of 2008 at the age of 13. I held him while his soul crossed over the rainbow bridge. I collected some of his fur and put it in a bag. I miss him every day. I will see him again one day, and I will be ecstatic.
What can I say I am a sucker for real-life animal stories and this one really kept me interested.
Steve is fresh out of college and moving down to Los Angeles. The one thing he has wanted all his life is a dog and during the drive to LA his girlfriend spots some stray dogs by the side of the road on a hill. Steve stops and the one dog who stays becomes Steve's new best friend Lou. After a good cleaning Lou becomes the talk of West Hollywood, befriending even the likes of Jonathan Harris (TV's Lost In Space's Dr. Smith) who always stops to talk with Lou after visiting the local gym.
If you love animals and animal stories, then this is a book for you!
I loved this story of the connection between a man and a dog. Yes, I knew it would end with the dog's passing, but it was such a beautiful love story that I could not stop reading. Steve Duno definitely wrote from his heart. Thank you Steve for sharing a wonderful experience with an amazing dog. I can dare say this tops my list of great reads and I will never forget the love you and Lou felt for one another. I did not cry at the end because your words described such a wonderful bond that goes beyond this realm of existence. Lou, wherever you are, you made a good choice in your human, but you knew that didn't you. ❤️❤️❤️
I think this is the first book, ever, that had me not only in tears, but actually sobbing. I feel privileged to have known Lou, even if it was only through someone else's words. Anyone seeking proof positive that animals have souls need only read it. I wasn't crazy about bits of the writing style, and the endless, endless foreshadowing, but these are kind of just nitpicks, in the end. Rest in peace, Lou, beautiful soul.
I really wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I found the author going to great lenghts at times to describe the methods he used to train Lou. This was interesting to a point but I felt he really dragged it out. Skimming ahead to the actual stories of Lou's adventures was much better reading.
I loved this book. Pretty much any book about a dog is high on my list, but this was a particularly good one. Lou, the pup of a couple of wild dogs, came off a hill to inspect the young man who stopped to watch the litter playing. Lou went home with Steve, which undoubtedly saved Lou's life, and brought him and Steve a life of unusual experiences and love. highly recommended.
Duno stops by the side of the road when he spots a feral dog family. He whistles and off they all run, but one puppy- a tick and flea infested boy with an infected cut comes running. An improbably start to a beautiful friendship, Lou's adventures are chronicled in this delightful story. Five hanky ending but if you're a dog lover, you know how that happens.
Lou, the wonderful dog is a gentleman when going to kindergarten classes; an inspiration to those learning sign language- as Steve, the owner/pal/writer gave non verbal commands. Lou defends Steve when gang members come nearby, when encountering crooks robbing a store with guns, when a neighbor is attacked in her own apartment, or when a coyote comes into his neighborhood. At those times Lou becomes a wild animal and seems almost ferocious. Other times he seems like a model dog, helping to train other dogs with attitude problems to listen and respond to human commands. There is so much to say about theois dog that the writer almost cannot go wrong, i found the writing interesting but not great.
Dang these lovely books about amazing dogs. Almost all of them end with the dog, who has led an amazing life, taking his last trip to the vet. I don't know how else you'd end the book. These charming magical dogs who give so much.....ah, just kind of makes you blubber a little bit. You just never know what "Superman" personality is hiding in a "Clark Kent"dog suit. If you like dog books, you'll love this one. Sniff.