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.
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