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The Truth about Dogs: An Inquiry Into the Ancestory, Social Conventions, Mental Habits, and Moral Fiber of Canis Familiarisby Stephen Budiansky
"Dogs belong to an elite group of con artists at the peak of their profession, the ones who pick our pockets clean and leave us smiling about it," begins Budiansky's litany of introductory complaints in The Truth About Dogs. (Picture a schnauzer and a poodle seated attentively behind a table labeled "defendant.") "Dogs are sharpshooters," he adds without sympathy. "We are saps." Fortunately for dogs and their fans, Budiansky (The Nature of Horses, The Character of Cats) also steps in as crackerjack defense counsel and expert witness; using data gathered by behavioral scientists, veterinary clinics, geneticists, and journals, he thoroughly explores and explains dogs' physical characteristics, conditions, and behavior in entertaining, well-supported, straightforward terms. Budiansky doesn't attempt to solve every mystery, but the theories he offers help to expose the misunderstandings upon which we base our more subjective complaints. With compassion and humor, he encourages the understanding that dogs and humans, while entirely separate beings often inappropriately subjected to each other's social values, share an ever-evolving symbiotic relationship. "Lets face it," he sums. "If dogs were human, they would be jerks. As dogs, they are wonderful." Those who recognize the difference are sure to enjoy Budiansky's revealing discussion.
Synopses & Reviews
Dogs: Man's best friends-or canine con artists? For centuries dogs have stolen our hearts, our homes, and our wallets. Just how do dogs get otherwise reasonable adults to feed them sirloin, let them occupy easy chairs, and generally allow them to regulate our every waking hour? In this provocative, entertaining, and wholly admiring reappraisal of our canine companions, Stephen Budiansky calls upon the latest research on dog behavior, genes, and evolution to explain why dogs do what they do, think what they think, and feel what they feel-and how they have come to occupy such a remarkable place in our lives and affections. Challenging many of our accepted ideas about canine intelligence and emotions, Budiansky shows how the very strange things that dogs so often do-fiercely guarding pairs of shoes, barking incessantly at the UPS man, rolling in really foul-smelling things-are the product of a rich blending of their ancient wolf ancestry, their subsequent dramatic evolutionary changes in the company of man, and their ever-so-peculiar modern social environment, neither wolf nor human. This original and insightful reexamination of an animal at once so familiar and so mysterious tells us, for the first time ever, what it truly is to be a dog.
"[Budiansky] turns the old-fashioned idea of domestication on its head...extraordinarily entertaining." New York Times Book Review
"Budiansky...may be the best writer around on animal behavior...." American Scientist
"In this humorous but fact-based book, Budiansky, a scientist, author, and dog-lover, uses scientific and genetic research to explain why dogs do what they do and are the way they are. In a conversational and entertaining way, the author shows how dog behavior is much more complex and interesting than we have previously thought..." Booklist
"Anyone who owns or ever comes into contact with dogs, which is to say everyone, should read this scientifically grounded yet amusing compendium." Raymond Sokolov, Wall Street Journal
Book News Annotation:
Budiansky is a scientist (what kind is not stated); author of books about animals, nature, and science; and journalist (a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly. He covers a gamut of topics, primarily of interest to dog owners, trying to separate fact from sentiment and supporting his non-sentimental views with information about how dogs perceive the world, relate to one another, and interact with humans.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Scientist, author, and dog lover Budiansky draws on cutting-edge genetic research to reveal what really makes dogs tick, and why. Writing with an eye toward improving our relationships with our dogs, the author discusses how the dog found the perfect survival niche in a symbiotic bond with humans. Illustrations.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -255) and index.
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