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Dogs Never Lie About Love : Reflections on the Emotional World of Dogs Paperback – September 8, 1998
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Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson was, oddly enough, pet-free when he decided to write about their key role in his life. Not to worry, though. In a trice he acquired a troika of pups (a purebred and two mongrels) and a couple of kittens. (The pussycats, alas, play only cameo roles.) In Dogs Never Lie About Love, Masson finds plenty of new things to say about canines--not that there hasn't been a plenitude of pupper reportage in the '90s. Or at least he easily articulates what some of us might already think: "Dogs feel more than I do (I am not prepared to speak for other people)," Masson asserts. "They feel more, and they feel more purely and more intensely." Often, however, he seems to be writing less about animals than humans: "In searching for why we are so inhibited compared with dogs, perhaps we can learn to be as direct, as honest, as straightforward, and especially as intense in our feelings as dogs are." But this book is not just a cozy mix of navel gazing (bestial and human) and long, leash-filled walks. Masson offers several proofs that dogs do take the high moral road--one police pooch, for instance, refused to acknowledge his handler's attack command. A good thing, too, since Masson himself would have been the victim! In more ways than one, Dogs Never Lie About Love is a Milk-Bone masterpiece.--Kerry Fried
From the Inside Flap
Dogs fill our hearts with love and our minds with wonder, but their emotional lives have remained unexplored since Darwin 125 years ago. Now in Dogs Never Lie About Love, controversial psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson brilliantly navigates the rich inner landscape of "our best friends."
As he guides readers through the surprising depth of canine emotional complexity, Jeffrey Masson draws from myth and literature, from scientific studies, and from the stories and observations of dog trainers and dog lovers around the world. But the stars of the book are the author's own three dogs whose delightful and mysterious behavior provides the way to exploring a wide range of subjects--from emotions like gratitude, compassion, loneliness, and disappointment to speculating what dogs dream of and how their powerful sense of smell shapes their perception of reality. As he sweeps aside old prejudices on animal behavior, Masson reaches into a rich universe of dog feeling to its essential core, their "master emotion": love.
Like the dogs he loves, Masson's writing will capture the reader with its playful, mysterious, and serious sides. Its surprising insights provide a new dimension of understanding for dog owners everywhere.
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Jeffery Writes Of his own experiences which my writing classes taught me to do. You cannot write about a subject unless you yourself have that knowledge which this man proves he has!...I have five four leged "people" (two independent cats) and they are allot like what this book talks about. My little girl dog has cried with me when I am not well. Not in voice, but she shows how she feels with large sad eyes and pinned back ears and when she is happy her eyes gleam excitment and she literaly dances her joy... He says dogs smell what we cannot see. Well, every time I ask my dogs who is there they all respond not only with ears but the twitching of noses. They are trying to smell what they hear!
He is right on about the great fear of a dog, loneliness and abandoment. My dogs all look at me with "why must we stay behind" and I can clearly see Disapointment on all three faces when I have to leave. It is then I have heard barks and howls when I leave and a neighbor ( who has critters too) told me this will go on for about 20 mins after I am gone. And when I return they are right there barking and sometims howling at my return with big smiles.
I have seen then show embarrassment many times. One dog had thought I threw a ball for him whereas I hid it behind me. He looked everywhere and would not stop looking untill I showed it to him..he then looked very surprised and his ears went down and looked at the other dogs in turn as if loking to see if they saw what happened then sat right where he was looking away till I actually threw the ball. He got a big grin on his face and took of after it. At LEast give this book a chance before condeming it.
species and it is the human world that has a long road to catching up with canines. Proof all canines go to heaven,
It is the humans that need to work to get there.
While reading, you can't help but feel like you (and the author) are merely observing (superficially) the reaction of his dogs to different stimuli, which is preemptively, albeit loosely, supported by some quote from a truly great thinker (among which the author is not). In fact, the reason I gave this book two stars is because I think the quote collection is quite nice. Unfortunately, while making the argument that dogs experience deep emotions, he ironically portrays them as shallow simpletons, showing nothing but pure love for everyone and everything that they meet like a junkie loves smack, without regard for their own canine life experiences. Worse, the things he portrays as "deep emotions" are most likely totally misinterpreted (I say most likely because no one really knows what is going on inside a dog's mind), and his lack of true empathy for his companions is completely apparent to anyone who has really bonded with an animal. For example, he supports his "dogs love everything" argument by describing his dog running up to people, dancing around, "squealing with delight," jumping up, and licking faces. That doesn't sound like love to me. It sounds like canine excitement mixed with poor impulse control. It doesn't prove that his dog loves everyone. It proves that his dog needs training on how to exercise patience and greet people politely.
Having been a foster parent of both humans and canines, I can say with certainty that dogs are emotionally complex, with dogs coming from backgrounds of abuse and neglect showing many of the very same behaviors as children from similar circumstances. When I think of love and dogs, I certainly don't think about my dogs being rude to house guests. I think of my oldest Australian Shepherd on the day he left this world laying and watching the door all day, too weak to stand, gathering all his strength and willing himself to his feet, legs shaking, to greet me and nuzzle my hand, stumpy tail wiggling, when I came home from work. Pure love was never more obvious and touching, no gift so altruistic, than the moment I realized he was no longer living for himself, but for me alone. Having done everything I could, I released him from the world that evening, and the last thing he did before his breathing stopped was lay his chin in my cupped hand as if to say, "It's OK. I trust you." The author clearly has never had this type of experience or he would not so trivialize a dog's love. Dogs are wonderful creatures who can be happy over nearly anything, but happiness is not the same thing as earning their full trust and devotion.
I find the author's observations to be inaccurate at best and insulting to both dogs and those who truly love animals at worst. It is true (as the author states emphatically early in the book) that animal emotions cannot be measured by a scientific instruments, but they also can't be understood through casual observation during some fantasy life where they go on five walks every single day. His dogs are merely lab animals, with him jotting notes each time they hit the feeder bar for another pellet. To know what is happening in your dog's heart is to open your own heart to them, teach them and help them develop as a parent would a child, share your joys and your struggles with them, and experience the unassuaged grief of their loss. If your reason for getting dogs is to write a book about them, you've already failed, and will always be on the outside of something you'll never quite experience, making observations, but completely missing the essence of what it is feel what they feel, and to realize that without the emotional contagion that seems to accompany them, your life is somehow more empty.