‘Inside of a Dog’

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My friend Pete pointed me to the New York Times review of “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know.” It’s a nicely written piece, and a lot of it resonates with what we’ve seen in the nearly three and a half years since we became unintentional dog “owners.” I like this bit from the review, for instance:

“The idea that a dog owner must become the dominant member by using jerks or harsh words or other kinds of punishment, she writes, ‘is farther from what we know of the reality of wolf packs and closer to the timeworn fiction of the animal kingdom with humans at the pinnacle, exerting dominion over the rest. Wolves seem to learn from each other not by punishing each other but by observing each other. Dogs, too, are keen observers — of our reactions.’

“In one enormously important variation from wolf behavior, dogs will look into our eyes. ‘Though they have inherited some aversion to staring too long at eyes, dogs seem to be predisposed to inspect our faces for information, for reassurance, for guidance.’ They are staring, soulfully, into our umwelts. It seems only right that we try a little harder to reciprocate, and Horowitz’s book is a good step in that direction. “

Kate points out there’s a comic reference in the title, an old Grouch Marx line: “Outside of a dog, a book’s a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” Bravo, Kate!

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