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Dog's Best Friend: Annals of the Dog-Human Relationship Paperback – April 1, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0226142807 ISBN-10: 0226142809 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 401 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226142809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226142807
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,741,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Journalist Derr, whose March 1996 Atlantic Monthly article, "The Politics of Dogs," was the basis of this book, traces the history of the dog-human relationship. Describing the breeding/development of dogs from wild wolves to domestics of all sizes, shapes, and functions, he outlines dogs' natural instincts for herding, guarding, drug searching, etc., as well as the physical and mental characteristics required for each kind of activity. Derr's interviews with breeders, blind persons, and others who work with dogs provide firsthand examples of dogs at work and play. The author is quick to point out that dogs are individuals and that being of a specific breed does not guarantee personality or performance; he suggests careful selection before training. Derr's informal narrative style makes for easy reading of a complex subject. For popular pet collections.?A. Louis Shor, DVM, Veterinary Consultant, Mt. Laurel, N.J.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Popular as Thomas' Hidden Life of Dogs (1993) was, readers debated her allowing her husky to wander Cambridge on his own and the book's conclusion: "what dogs want" is interaction with each other. Derr's "Politics of Dogs" in the March 1990 Atlantic Monthly produced controversy, too: it urged the American Kennel Club and similar groups to impose tougher controls on appearance-only breeding and puppy mills. Derr's book grew from that article; it sketches the evolution of "the dog-human relationship," examines types of dogs and the genetic and cultural roots of specific dog behaviors, and offers dozens of anecdotes on dogs in nonpet situations (on the Iditarod sled dog race, herding sheep on a Navajo reservation, training for dog shows or Frisbee contests, serving as guides and service dogs, etc.). Show-oriented dog fanciers won't agree with Derr; neither will some People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals members, as the author approves using dogs to perform various functions. But average dog lovers will find much to relish here. Mary Carroll --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 7, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book is certain to raise howls from the members of the AKC! It is scathing in its discussion of breed registration and the responsibility of the AKC in the production of unfit animals. Any person looking for a pure bred pet must read this first. The book brings to mainline dog lovers the knowledge serious dog trainers have been saying to each other for some time- breeding "for Pretty" damages the animals.

There is room for debate on several of Mr. Derr's contentions, but by and large he has brought important information to light that anyone loving dogs should be concerned about. He has also done it in a compelling fashion without pedantics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amanda on April 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Very easy to understand and the author presents such brilliant theories. I have read other books about dogs and found them boring and so much less interesting. I would recommend this to anyone doing research or anyone who wants some information about dogs.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This is another book review by Wolfie and Kansas, the boonie dogs from Toto, Guam. When we saw the fetching picture on the cover of "Dog's Best Friend", we thought the book would be primarily about dogs. Actually, the book is more about the humans who breed, train and work and play with dogs. While we think a concentration on dogs would have been more interesting, the sections on these humans are generally pretty good. The book also contains some fascinating history of the dog-human relationship, and even a couple mentions of our island.
While the individual humans profiled in this book almost all qualify as dogs' best friends, the theme running through this book is that many humans and human organizations have been harming dogs. This harm is done in two ways. First, humans have a negative effect on dog behavior through misguided and cruel training. Author Mark Derr comes close to agreeing with our position that there is no such thing as a bad dog. There are only good dogs trained by bad humans. We do have some reservations about Derr's opinions as to what constitutes "good" or "bad" dog behavior. For example, Derr agrees with our noncanine animal companions of primate derivation that chasing cars is "bad".
Author Derr also asserts that humans harm dogs genetically by inbreeding purebreds. Derr praises the hybrid vigor of mixed-breed dogs, i.e.--us! Indeed, the physical description of "the perfect dog" in the final chapter of "Dog's Best Friend" is very close to a description of Wolfie.
We have seen Derr's theories about the genetic superiority of boonie dogs confirmed here in Toto.
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