Amy Sutherland Shamus Verbotomy

Amy Sutherland is the author of a great new book titled “What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage“. In it she tells of her experience using exotic animal training techniques on her husband. After all, if they can train a seal to balance a ball on its nose, surely she could train her husband to pick up his socks. Well guess what? It worked! And hence the verb “shamu” was born. It means to “use animal training techniques on humans”, which exactly what Amy is going to do this week at Verbotomy.

Amy Sutherland (, has offered a treat, or should I say a reward, for most creative player of week: A signed copy of her latest book: “What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage”. We will be offering this prize the top player of week during our “Shamu Week”, which runs from May 19 – May 25, 2008.

Amy Sutherland author of \

About What Shamu Taught Me

While observing exotic animal trainers for her acclaimed book Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched, journalist Amy Sutherland had an epiphany: What if she used these training techniques with the human animals in her own life–namely her dear husband, Scott?

The next time her forgetful husband stomped through the house in search of his mislaid car keys, she asked herself, “What would a dolphin trainer do?” The answer was: nothing. Trainers reward the behavior they want and, just as important, ignore the behavior they don’t. Rather than appease her mate’s rising temper by joining in the search, or fuel his temper by nagging him to keep better track of his things in the first place, Sutherland kept her mouth shut and her eyes on the dishes she was washing. In short order, Scott found his keys and regained his cool. “I felt like I should throw him a mackerel,” she writes. In time, as she put more training principles into action, she noticed that she became more optimistic and less judgmental, and their twelve-year marriage was better than ever.

What started as a goofy experiment had such good results that Sutherland began using the training techniques with all the people in her life, including her mother, her friends, her students, even the clerk at the post office. In the end, the biggest lesson she learned is that the only animal you can truly change is yourself.

Full of fun facts, fascinating insights, hilarious anecdotes, and practical tips, What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage describes Sutherland’s Alice-in-Wonderland experience of stumbling into a world where cheetahs walk nicely on leashes and elephants paint with watercolors, and of leaving a new, improved Homo sapiens.

About Amy Sutherland

Amy Sutherland is the author of Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched and Cookoff. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Her feature piece “What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage,” on which this book is based, was the most viewed and most e-mailed article of The New York Times online in 2006. Sutherland divides her time between Boston and Portland, Maine.

The winner will be chosen based on the final stats on the Verbotomy Weekly Author Ranking for the week starting on Monday May 19, 2008.

Official Stuff:

Prize: What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers (Hardcover) by Amy Sutherland (Author). (Approximate Retail Value $18.00 US.)
Contest Start Date: May 19, 2008 at 12:01:00 am EDT
Contest End Date: May 25, 2008 at 11:59:00 pm EDT

For The Shamu Weekly Author Ranking see:

For complete contest rules and regulations please see our Verbotomy Contest Rules and Regulations.

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