Review: Inside of a Dog
That bark--that incessant, sharp, and, oh, so very loud bark--is a good thing. It is an invitation to play. Though to my ears it is rather like a drill sergeant's inviting me to drop and give him 50, it is a friendly appeal. Until I read Alexandra Horowitz's Inside of a Dog, What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, I was sure my daughter's dog, Clyde the dachshund mix from the shelter in Monroe, hated my living guts.
Having read this book, I feel better. And smarter.
The gentle, humble look--the look that says, 'Do with me what you will'?--when my daughter puts him in his winter coat is a look of submission, but this is not a good thing. The winter coat is like the blanket under which we used to insert him every night, thinking it was a good thing. When I told my daughter that in Clyde's mind this was a show of our dominance, the tucking-in came to an end. (The wearing of coats continues because he shivers when he should poop so she'll bring him inside, and she won't be played.)
Another detail I couldn't let my daughter read for herself but had to report across the living room: Those crazy kisses he gives you when we get home after a long day? He is trying to get you to regurgitate and share whatever you ate after a day of hunting.
Because dogs are dogs, not three-dimensional avatars of our wild selves. They are their own selves.
Horowitz's book describes the sensory and cognitive experiences of dogs and how we've come to know these things about them. The book is as readable as it is insightful and fun.
My favorite moment in the book comes when she describes how dogs use their best loved tool to achieve their desired results. The tool? Their humans. You want that treat you can't quite get to? Then get to the human whom you can get to in so many ways. The treat is yours.
Dogs are our connection to the wild. Having read this book, I have come to appreciate we are wild. We are connected. We change everything. To love your dog as a dog is to love all that is wild and to find our place in that landscape.