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Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond (Merloyd Lawrence Books) Hardcover – February 3, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0306817366 ISBN-10: 0306817365

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Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond (Merloyd Lawrence Books) + Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship
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Product Details

  • Series: Merloyd Lawrence Books
  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306817365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306817366
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Many people will attest to the happiness pets bring, but few are aware of the neurochemical basis. In one of those delectably synergistic books that tie together threads of science, history, and everyday life, Olmert explains the evolutionary processes behind what E. O. Wilson calls biophilia, our love and need for animals. The complex story begins with the hormone oxytocin. First identified as the agent for labor contractions and breast-feeding, oxytocin is now recognized as the biological factor in social bonding. Olmert tracks the far-reaching power of oxytocin back to our Ice Age ancestors’ transformation into hunters, the forging of communities, and the welcoming of wolves around the hearth. As wolves evolved into dogs, it is oxytocin that turned them into “man’s best friend,” and the same mutually beneficial oxytocin-enhancing chemistry makes possible the close bonds between humans and horses, cattle, and cats. Studies proving the remarkable therapeutic effects of pets bolster Olmert’s mind-stretching assertion that our close relationships with other species are organically necessary for our well-being. More proof of the astonishing intricacy of life’s interconnectivity. --Donna Seaman

Review

Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation
“A fascinating exploration into the foundations of the human-animal bond and of our relationships with animals.

E. O. Wilson, Harvard University author of Biophilia
“An original, exceptionally interesting book. It is also a feel-good-about-ourselves book, and we surely need more of those in today’s strife-torn environment.”

Kirkus, 12/15/08
“A warm exploration of the bond that might just keep humans sane ‘until our own species can settle down again and act civilized.'"

Barbara Smuts, author of Sex and Friendship in Baboons and Primate Societies
“Wide-ranging, fascinating, poignant and clearly heartfelt….Timely because if connects the human-animal bond to the latest work in neuroscience, animal behavior, and the relationship between these fields.”

Scientific American Mind, 1/27/09
“[A] heartwarming and fascinating book…Olmert makes a convincing case that we are better off with [animals] in our lives.”

Booklist, 2/15/09
“More proof of the astonishing intricacy of life’s interconnectivity.”

Bookslut, 1/31/09
Made for Each Other turns a bright light on animal-human relationships, and raises provocative questions about the relationship of biology and behavior."

Sante Fe New Mexican, 2/8/09
“[Olmert] comes to some fascinating conclusions.”

Boston Globe, 2/15/09
“A nice companion volume to Grandin’s...Olmert weaves together the evolution of the bond between people and animals with the latest science.”

The Bark, March/April 2009
“Olmert creates a compelling case for our seemingly innate attraction to animals.”

New Scientist, 3/14/09
“A fascinating, wide-ranging and easy read about the biology of the human-animal bond.”

Bust, 3/19/09
“Meg Daley Olmert expertly sums up a slew of scientific studies that show oxytocin to have a hand in everything from the monogamous mating habits of prairies voles to the early relationship between a human mom and her newborn.”

Natural History, 4/09
“Meg Daley Olmert…has investigated the scientific and historical background of the bond between humans and their domestic animals, finding that it’s as socially complex and meditated as the love we humans have for each other.”

Orion, 6/09
“Olmert calls on a wealth of behavioral psychology, zoology, and anthropology to explain the neuroscience behind the evolution of domestication and the mutual benefits of human-animal bonding.”

Metapsychology.com, 8/25/09
“Wide-ranging and well-researched…An entertaining and insightful book crammed with interesting science presented in a thoroughly accessible way. Olmert convincingly shows that the urge to connect with animals is deep in our nature, and she livens up her writing with engaging stories and intriguing tidbits of information that make for fascinating reading.”

Choice, September 2009 issue
“Engagingly written…Recommended. This is a ‘feel-good’ book about human-animal relationships.”

A Humane Nation, blog of Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society, 12/14/09
Made for Each Other was for me the most stimulating book of the year…Olmert’s work associates her with the path-breaking thinking of E.O. Wilson.”


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Customer Reviews

A wise, wise book.
Maynard Mack Jr.
I was unfamiliar with oxytocin until I read this well researched, informative and interesting book.
Patricia R. Clark
We love how Meg Olmert de-mystifies the mysterious!
Joseph J. Peters

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Tom Dykstra on October 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The evidence and arguments presented in places in this book are definitely worth being aware of, but there is a great deal of rambling and repetition. The book jacket mentions the author's "lack of formal scientific training," and the book is not really the work of a scholar. It reads much like a long newspaper or magazine article that throws together data from somewhat related scientific studies. The author does not spend much time acknowledging alternative explanations for complex phenomena, and the attribution of virtually all human mental well-being to oxytocin may be overdone. Nevertheless, the book is worth looking through, especially for anyone who does not have a pet and might be considering getting one. If you don't have a pet, the information here may be sufficient to convince you to get one, and if you have one you'll find here biological data confirming what you already know about how good your pet is for your mental health.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Sy Montgomery on March 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
MADE FOR EACH OTHER is the most fascinating and important book I've read in a long time. Meg Olmert's thesis--that our natural bond with our fellow animals has a basis in our brain chemistry--explains a great deal, not only about our relationship with pets, livestock and wildlife but also about human evolution.
The book is a fun, fast read, too, studded with gems of facts: the Egyptians seem to have tamed hyenas and giraffes. Plants recognize other plants that are related to them, and refrain from competing with relatives. When foxes are bred for docility of temperament, within a few generations their markings begin to look like those of border collies. Wow!
I learned a great deal from this book, and much of it was very good news indeed: that our very biochemistry weds us, and our happiness, to the rest of animate creation.
--Sy Montgomery
author of The Good Good Pig
and other books
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joseph J. Peters on October 12, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
My wife and absolutely loved reading it and couldn't put it down. Best thing we've read since Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire! (a paradigm changing book about how plants have used US in their successful evolution). We zipped through Made for each other Sunday and Monday and were sorry at the end of it that there wasn't more to read. We tried to even read the footnotes. We're afraid we had to settle for your cover's quotes plus the acknowledgements and about the writer sections.

We found it very easy to read, enlightening, scholarly but not pedantic, believable but not full of excessive hype. We wish that more scientific theory and data were so readable. It's way better than those academic articles and scientific descriptions we usually plod through to find out what we want to know. Those articles reward us, but we wish they didn't make obfuscating the goal.

When my wife worked on Wall St, everyone tried to make financial data seem obtuse too. They like those smoke and mirror effects. It hides the very scant amount of clothes the emperor is wearing.

We love how Meg Olmert de-mystifies the mysterious!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By oldetimeybookworm on June 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read a number of books on human/animal relationships, none of them match the scope and clarity of Olmert's MADE FOR EACHOTHER. The book's lighthearted cover art betrays it's vast contents. This is not a cutesy,nostalgic tribute to pets; this is a serious scholarly inquiry that breaks down the human/animal bond on a molecular level. This book also presents a fascinating history of the domestication of mammals. What you are in for is a engaging history that shows how oxytocin has shaped interspecies relationships. If you like science writers like E.O. Wilson, then you will be sure to appreciate Olmert's MADE FOR EACHOTHER.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nan Gold on April 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am an animal lover, have been around them most of my life -- cats, dogs, horses --and have found, during the rare periods when I didn't have at least one of the above, that my life was curiously empty and sort of gray. And now, I understand why. This is a compelling account of the history of animal/human interdependence, gracefully written, with lots of insights into both sides of the equation. Olmert writes very clearly, with plenty of detail, but is not forbiddingly technical. Lots and lots of insights, great stories -- just a wonderful book! It's a keeper!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rachel on July 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is not a touchy-feely story of how much humans love their pets. No anecdotes about how Spot saved my life. Instead, this is a thoroughly researched, readable explanation of how humans evolved alongside of animals...watching them, then catching and using them, domesticating them. How our evolution was impacted by them. And how our biological systems are effected by them and vice versa. Completely compelling. I've given it as a gift to several friends with dogs.Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond (Merloyd Lawrence Books)
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lev Raphael on April 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Meg Daley Olmert's book is by turns fascinating, funny, dazzling, thought-provoking. She's a wizard at combining scientific information with personal anecdotes with speculative history, and the book not only makes you feel smarter when you're done, but more human and more appreciative of the animal beings in your life. I've been touting this book to everyone I know who's a dog lover and who loves to read intelligent prose aimed at an intelligent audience. If you loved The Hidden Life of Dogs this is a must, taking that book's observations into new, exciting realms.
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