Riding the wave generated by his bestselling When Elephants Weep (1995), Masson offers further clever musings on the emotional lives of animals, concentrating on that most fervent practitioner of interspecies devotion, Rover.
Again, as in his earlier book, Masson serves a bounty of curious animal stories designed to at least hint at a complex inner life, full of deep feelings, in dogs. He doesn't claim to be following any particular scientific method. In fact, one of the best parts of this book is a canny dissection of anthropomorphism: when it is egregiously applied and clouds our understanding; when it serves as a scientific gag order, a closing of the mind. And he reminds the reader more often than necessary that his suppostions are a far cry from proof. He is just following his instincts, backing them up when he can from the formidable amount of research done on animal behavior. What this boils down to is Masson the storyteller, reeling off tale after tale of dog behavior that cries out to be considered on the emotional level. Many of the stories are of the winning, feel-good variety, of forgiveness and courage and loyalty (including one in which a trained police dog disobeys an apparently unjust order to attack), of their bottomless capacity for love and fun. There are darker stories, too--fashioned to raise our ire--of dogs' humiliation and abuse and abandonment at the hands of humans. But Masson can be irritating, tendering opinions as facts: "No other animal (wild, tame, or domesticated) carries such meaning for humans as the dog,'' and "Dogs do not lie to you about how they feel,'' as if he knows that dogs are incapable of a put-on.
Masson may be an anecdotist, but he is also a graceful, powerful, informed writer. He knows how to keep our cogs turning.