Kenneth (kensmind) wrote in bookish,

Book Review: Inside of a Dog

Alexandra Horowitz' best-seller Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See Smell and Know can be a delight or a disappointment, depending on what the reader's expectations are prior to reading it. As a dog owner who loves my pet (a mixed breed "mutt" named Abby - see userpic), I approached this book expecting that the author would explain all the strange, weird and wonderful behaviour of my four-legged best friend. But as author Alexandra Horowitz points out, dogs are as individual as people are, and while we are capable of concluding sweeping generalities (such as how a dog's primary sense isn't sight, but smell), much depends on a dog's breed, life experience and environment to explain a lot of canine behaviour. Still, the author paints a picture of what a dog's eye view of the world looks like and instills in the reader a consciousness about what it must be like to be a dog: seeing the world from a lower vantage point, being led by one's nose. The author is a skilled observer of doggy-style behaviour, with good insight into their play, their interaction with other dogs and of their cognitive functioning. She explains how a dog sees the world, not in black and white as a popular misconception states, but through a different spectrum than humans. The reader will not come away with a complete understanding of why their dogs act the way they do, but he or she will learn things about dogs that he or she didn't know before.


The delight in this book comes from how the author's love of her subject is so apparent. She writes with a light-hearted passion for her subject matter. She gives some amusing yet practical advice about how to name one's dog, and makes a compelling argument in praise of mutts over purebreds. The last chapter about the author's relationship with her own dog (named Pumpernickel, or Pump for short) is especially touching and will probably cause most dog lovers to shed a tear. The author's love of her subjects comes through powerfully in this book.

The reader's enjoyment of this book will be affected by the reader's expectations. Those hoping that the book contains the hidden key to understanding their own pet will likely experience disappointment. But those looking for an enjoyable read about our canine companions, with a scientific bent but without all the answers about why their dog acts like it does, will be very satisfied.
Tags: author: h, genre: non-fiction, review

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