Aug 27, 2014

The Modern Dog

by Stanley Coren

This was a lot easier read than the last book. It covers some similar ground but is not so philosophical and doesn't delve so far into the past- instead its concern is more the present relationship that dogs have with humans. In a friendly, lighthearted manner, the book explores such topics as why dogs bond so closely to people, why so many dogs look like their owners, their significance in some religions, their canine behavior, their extraordinary sense of smell, their means of communication, the benefits of raising kids with a dog in the home and much much more. It's a nice combination of anecdotal evidence and scientific fact that makes for easy, interesting reading. Things like how bereft owners have tried to clone their dogs, how dog breeds evolved as hunting methods and equipment changed, how rabies probably led to the idea of vampires, the loyalty of dogs that travel long distances to find their owners again, and why cats and dogs often misread each other's body language. I liked the inclusion of many folkloric stories such as why dogs sniff each other's tails, and the origins of the Chinese "lion dog" - the pekingese- being a love affair between a lion and a marmot (sanctioned by the Buddha who changed the lion's size). One of the most interesting chapters was about how law enforcement and courts use dogs as witnesses- with their powers of identifying scents. The methods are different from what I expected, and convincing. Also eye-opening was a personal account the author shared about an incident where he bathed his dog in tomato juice in the yard to get rid of skunk smell, with local kids looking on. One of them took photos which later got posted online with false information- as being evidence of animal cruelty! Makes you realize how easily stories can get twisted and people end up misinformed. I looked up more facts on a lot of stuff from this book- just because I'm curious to know more- and found that in at least one case, the book isn't accurate. Makes me wonder about the rest, and realize you have to read it all with some skepticism in mind.

I borrowed this one from the public library

Rating: 3/5       274 pages, 2008

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