Synopses & Reviews
Years back, Melissa Holbrook Pierson brought home a border collie named Mercy, without a clue on how to get her to behave. Amazed by a trainer whose immediate rapport with Mercy seemed magical, Pierson began delving into the techniques of positive reinforcement. She made her way to B. F. Skinner, the man who started it all, the man who could train a pigeon to dance in minutes and whose research on conditioning has ramifications for athletes, dancers, and, as he originally conceived, all of us. To learn more, Pierson met with a host of fascinating animal behaviorists, going behind the scenes to witness the relationships between trainers and animals at the National Zoo and to Clicker Expo where all the dogs but hers seemed to be learning new tricks. From language to economics to ethics, Pierson draws startling connections in her exploration of how kindness works to motivate all animals, including the human ones.
"This book reads fast, like a novel, but it is deep science, too. Pierson is a gifted and witty writer with a wonderfully original turn of phrase. She uses a reporter's eye to put in front of us a quiet, ever-spreading transformation in society, away from force to kindness. Besides herself and two dogs, Mercy and Nelly, other leading characters among the many in this adventure include a founding scientist, often disdained and even reviled in the past, Fred Skinner; a Navy dolphin trainer, Bob Bailey; a distinguished behavior analyst, Murray Sidman--and me. I've never met or spoken to the author, but I'm startled and honored to be in her book. And I'm VERY grateful to her for explaining how this works and how, like climate change, we'd better get used to it, because it's already out there and happening. Click, Melissa! Thanks!" Karen Pryor, founder of Karen Pryor Clicker Training
"This book reads like a novel, but it is deep science, too. A gifted and witty writer, Pierson uses a reporter's eye to inform us of a quiet, ever-spreading transformation in society, away from force to kindness. Among the characters in this adventure are her two dogs; a founding scientist named Fred Skinner; a Navy dolphin trainer, Bob Bailey; a distinguished behavior analyst, Murray Sidman--and me. I'm honored to be in her book and very grateful for her explanation of how this works. Click, Melissa!" Karen Pryor, author of Reaching the Animal Mind
"Scientifically, artfully, and with the bold premise that gently training a dog can set the animal's 'master' on the path to enlightenment in all areas of life, Melissa Holbrook Pierson's new book proves how 'intelligent' humans have more in common with the bestiary's 'dumb' creatures than some of us will care to admit. Are you man enough to follow a canine master? More to the point, are you beast enough? Reading is one sure way to find out." Julia Szabo, nationally recognized pet reporter, animal advocate, and author of Medicine Dog
"The best dog books enlighten us not just about animals, but also about ourselves and the world around us. Melissa Holbrook-Pierson's is that kind of book; it's among the best of the best." Ken Foster, New York Times bestselling author of The Dogs Who Found Me and I'm a Good Dog: Pit Bulls, America's Most Beautiful and Misunderstood Pet
"Explores the philosophical intricacies of animal behavior, training, and human perceptions of control and empathy, leading the reader to think carefully about what truly motivates companion animals to obey human commands." Publishers Weekly
An intimate, surprising look at man's best friend and what the leading philosophies of dog training teach us about ourselves.
About the Author
Melissa Holbrook Pierson is the author of The Perfect Vehicle, The Place You Love Is Gone, Dark Horses and Black Beauties, and The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing and The Secret History of Kindness. She lives in Shokan, New York.