To this season of the dog book, add this sprightly celebration of canine anecdotes. Wishing to get to the heart of what makes a dog a dog, the Hausmans, both mythologists, poured over sacred oral narratives, conjectures as to our prehistorical relationships with various mutts, and contemporary dog stories. What they deliver here is a compendium of these findings, laid out alphabetically by breed: 50 backgrounds of purebreds, 40 additional dog tales, drawn from global sources, explicating and dramatizing our fascination with Bowser (they also provide what appear to be American Kennel Club specs on established purebreds). Dog lovers will doubtless be captivated, but so too will the casual browser of this collection of arcana and mythological baggage, savoring the odd tidbits: the quirky Airedale hailing a cab, the pit bull's ability to sniff out ""evil intent from the slack manner of any man,"" how the African basenji lost its bark, and why one should never try to displace a coonhound from the porch swing. Other tales relate how the whistled tune of a stranger turned the bulldog from a bully to an upstanding citizen, why the springer spaniel bit the pope's toe and thus ushered in the Church of England, and the curious tale of the weimaraner that liked to talk on the phone. And what is one to make of the story that the urinating ghost of a dingo created the Magellanic Clouds? Well, probably little other than to marvel at the sheer inventiveness of it all, for one of the great pleasures of this book is to see the art of myth-making laid as bare as possible. Good stuff entertainingly told, and a gold mine for dog fanciers.