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The Hidden Life Of Dogs Paperback – July 1, 1996

3.2 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thomas's multifaceted discussion of canine life was a 28-week PW bestseller.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Novelist/ethologist Thomas may be well known to readers for her novels Reindeer Moon (LJ 1/87) and The Animal Wife ( LJ 7/90). This work, however, takes a much different tack in that it provides a readable account of how, over a a span of years, her family dogs were transformed into a family unit not unlike a wolf pack. Thomas is a firm believer that animals think and express emotion and is not ashamed to be "anthropomorphic" in her particular analysis of dog behavior. Her intention is to find out, by observing her own animals, what it is that dogs "want." The dogs were free to make their own decisions; Thomas fed them, sheltered them, and provided medical care but otherwise didn't train them or direct their activities. The observations she makes are entertaining and amusing to anyone who has owned a dog. Her conclusion is that dogs want each other, and people are merely substitutes for other canines. Although Thomas draws on her knowledge of philosophy and the theory of animal consciousness, this book never bogs down in theory and remains very readable. A title worth considering for libraries where there is client interest.
- Edell Marie Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., Wis.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery (July 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671517007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671517007
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,363,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When I read this book 12 years ago I was fascinated by the story. I was also very intrigued with her observations about her dogs and the emotional journey she took with them. I even found myself weeping when one of her dogs had passed and how the other dog mourned for it's dead companion. I was excited about leaving a review for this book, but after reading all the negative reviews... it's easy to now look back on this book in a negative light. It was a different time/era when she wrote this book. It was published in mid 90's meaning she observed the dogs in late 70's and 80's. That was a time when in small neighborhoods dogs did roam a little more free and not everyone spayed their dogs. It was also a time when my parents would tell me to "go outside and play, but make sure your back by dark." As a parent now, I'd never do that, just like I'd never not get my dog spayed -- but back then it was quite normal. I guess what I'm saying is that we may need a little perspective when reading this book and realizing, as said... it was a different time. If you take that into consideration -- and put down your present-good-dog-owner cap -- this is quite and enjoyable, emotional read.
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Format: Paperback
I have to say this is the first book review I've writen, I just haven't been compelled to write any reviews. After reading this book I changed my mind. I was so utterly DISGUSTED by this author's total irresponsible treatment of her dogs. I have read many books about dog behavior and I thought I would get a little more insight from this book. How wrong was I? I finished the book out of sheer determination. I read all the reviews written for this book and all of the negative ones are true. She let her dogs run wild through busy streets, she did not spay or neuter any of her dogs, had many unwanted puppies (which she allowed her dogs to kill), and the list goes on. This was not a scientific experiment it was neglect and abuse. If you would like an insightful/refreshing book about dog behavior that does not involve irresponsible ownership/guardianship buy Patricia McConnell's "The Other End of the Leash."
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was flabbergasted when I read this book. Bluntly put, the author is an idiot, and should not own dogs at all. The first part of her book describes how she is taking care of a friend's dog, and lets it wander all over town. Instead of making sure he can't escape from the yard, she makes a habit of following him... that is, unless he CROSSES THE HIGHWAY, in which case she turns back. Personally, I'd want anyone watching my pet to have at least a small amount of responsibility and common sense. She describes problems she has with the police and her neighbors because of her 5 (sometimes more) dogs; she describes how she lets her un-spayed/neutered dogs breed out-of-control. The travesty just goes on and on. The part that made me laugh is that, at the end, she seems to be impressed that the dogs don't seem to pay any attention to her anymore; she seems to have missed the point of having pets. Her conclusion that dogs primarially want the company of other dogs should include the caveat "in the absence of any human attention."
The author does not appear to be an expert on dogs, dog behavior, dog training, or dog care. She does, however, have some good tips on being a public nuisance. I'm amazed that anyone would write such an account of irresponsible behavior.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pity her poor dogs. What example is she setting? The reason for Ms. Thomas' 'dogological studies' is flawed. She wishes to study how dogs conduct themselves if left undisturbed in normal circumstances. Yet she dismisses the studies of feral, abandoned, or homeless dogs, stating that these free-ranging dogs lived under terrible stress in a hostile dangerous environment and thus were not living normal lives. Yet according to Ms. Thomas dogs roaming suburban Boston with traffic, dogcatchers, dognappers, etc. live a 'normal' life in a non-hostile environment. Ms Thomas' negligence and irresponsibility is almost unbelievable if I hadn't read her book myself. For the sake of her 'dogological' studies she: 1. Let someone else's dog roam Boston while under her care violating laws unconcerned about complaints of neighbors. 2. Let conditions exist where her dogs attacked another dog under her care. 3. Bemoans the fact that there are no legal or moral responsibility attached to motorists hitting dogs, yet "flouts", her words, the leash law. She mentioned that her free ranging dogs had made her known in police stations throughout the Greater Boston area. 4. Routinely let were dogs run loose for days and they returned with evidence that they had chased and killed deer. Let four-month-old puppy roam. 5. Did not spay and neuter her dogs and they produced at least four litters one of which was killed by dogs she owns. 6. Let an old infirm dog roam during a New Hampshire winter.
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Format: Paperback
Recipe for Disaster:

Get a dog for every member of the family.

Don't spay or neuter any of them.

Allow them all to run free for a year while you follow along, observing them as they run through traffic, fight, and place themselves in danger of death or injury with regularity.

Don't establish a relationship with any of them, work with them, and train them in any way.

Watch and take copious notes as they withdraw from the family and revert to survival behavior.

Write a book about the experience and make a lot of money. Fool the masses into thinking that this was a fascinating experiment and therefore any irresponsible behvior on the part of the author was somehow justified.

I threw this book in the garbage, where it belongs.
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