Thursday, December 5, 2013

REVIEW: Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and KnowInside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Format: Audio from Library
Narrated By: Karen White
Original Publication Year: 2009
Genre(s): Non-Fiction
Series: NA
Awards: NA

Musing about what is going on in a dog’s brain is pretty much a daily occurrence for me. I share my space with two of the hairy beasties and I’m always looking for that key piece of knowledge that will unlock the why of them and therefore enable me and the pups to live in perfect harmony. Don’t get me wrong, my dogs and I get on smashingly, but there are those moments of aggravation when they do something crazy at the worst moment and guilt that I am not providing them what they truly need to be as happy as they deserve. So I love books like Inside of a Dog which purport to tell me exactly what is going on in those floppy-eared heads of theirs.

My response to the book is a little ho-hum but it is not the author's or the book's fault really. The problem is that earlier this year I read The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Thinkand the two books cover A LOT of the same ground. Therefore, I encountered very little new material in Inside of a Dog and was getting frustrated that I wasn't learning anything new. However, though I read Genius of Dogs first it was actually published four years after this book so it’s not really fair to judge this book as lesser based on “no new information” when it actually covered the ground first. Upon further thought and examination, while the books are similar, they do complement each other. My recommendation would be to read both but not in a short time frame and I would read Inside of a Dog first.

So, I don’t want to reveal all the secrets of a dog’s psyche that are revealed in the book but suffice it to say that dogs see the world quite differently than we do. Horowitz spends a lot of time examining the five senses and how a dog uses those senses vs. how people use them. None of it was terribly earth shattering but each was covered in sufficient and organized detail. The chapters dealing with dog cognition were most overlappy with The Genius of Dogs and it does not cover that topic as well as that book. However it covers the information on the senses in much greater detail which is why I think the books are complementary.

Horowitz’s writing style is pretty engaging and easy to get into. She gets downright poetical and florid when describing little vignette’s of her and her dog Pumpernickel. And of course the inevitable description of that dog’s death had me in floods of tears. It comes out in the writing that Horowitz is obviously a kindred spirit to those of us who are fascinated by and feel blessed to share our lives with the amazing balls of fur called dogs.

In the end, I don’t feel like I learned much that will change my relationship with my dogs but I read a lot of books like this. I was never bored and enjoyed spending time with Horowitz and Pumpernickel.

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I know you're wondering. Why, yes I do crimp Jasper's ears every morning. He's a very 80's sort of dog and I want to keep him happy:)


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