Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What's A Dog For?

When I go to the library with time on my hands, I tend to end up in one of two places: 636.7 (Dogs) or 746.1 (knitting).  This particular book caught my eye, because the pup on the front reminded me of a certain niece of mine, with crazy ears and a cute little face.  John Homans' dog, Stella, was the catalyst for this book, when his family adopted her from a rescue.  He wanted to know why she was the way she was.  Why does she like his company so much?  Why the elaborate greeting when he walks through the door?  Why does she look to him to solve her problems (like the fact that the leftover chicken is in the fridge, and she doesn't have thumbs)?

This book raises some really interesting questions, and provides some really thought-provoking answers.  He writes about the Canine Science Forum in Vienna, where scientists present experiments to prove that dogs understand human expressions of emotion, explained "dog guilt", and hypothesize about the ways that dogs differ from wolves and foxes.  He speaks with scientists who discovered that dogs are the only animal (the only animal) that understands the act of pointing at something, people who study how dogs are like human babies (hint: a lot), and whether dogs likes humans only because humans give them food, or if human interaction has been hard-wired in doggy brains after eons of breeding.   Homans presents his findings in a narrative voice, and loops everything back to his own beloved pup, which makes this a really informative but actually interesting read.

I'm pretty sure I have it figured out, though.  What's a dog for?


1 comment:

  1. Yet another dog book to add to my 'To Read' list! I'm with you, though, about the real reason for dogs (in my house, at least!).