Monday, 22 February 2010

Dogs

I've reviewed an excellent book about dogs for the Guardian: Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz. The title comes from that old Groucho Marx joke: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

The book is definitely worth reading if you're a dog owner or dog lover. Here are the first couple of paragraphs of my review:

Even in the middle of a busy modern city, we're surrounded by all kinds of animals that share our space and our food, but only one of them bothers to study us. To rats, crows and cockroaches, we might be a source of tasty snacks, but we're mostly an irritation and sometimes a threat. Dogs are different. They inspect our actions, interpret our emotions and, over time, learn how to please us and control us, persuading us to provide them with food, shelter and a nice warm basket.

Alexandra Horowitz describes dogs as "anthropologists among us", and in this engaging book, her first, she studies them with the same intensity and affection that they devote to us. She has her own dogs – the pages are punctuated with little snippets of a ­diary from her 16 years shared with Pumpernickel – but she also watches dogs for a living: she's a psychologist who studies dog behaviour and was hired by Sony to make their Aibo dog-robot more cutely canine in its interactions.

Full review here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/inside-of-a-dog-review