An anthrozoologist dissects the history and behavior of man’s best friend.
How did the domesticated dog become domesticated? What makes our canine companions tick? Bradshaw (Waltham Director of the Anthrozoology Institute/Univ. of Bristol) draws upon two decades spent studying canine science to debunk the myths surrounding dog ownership. Readers who believe their puppies can exhibit guilt, for example, would be wise to shelve that kind of thinking, the author writes: “The evidence that dogs can experience any emotions more complex than jealousy…is flimsy.” He offers advice on how to build stronger human-dog relationships as well as a sharp-tongued critique of modern trends in dog breeding. According to Bradshaw, inhuman treatment of canines can often manifest itself in selective breeding for appearance and behavior, whether in creating a teacup-sized pooch, a goliath or an overly aggressive dog. For the non-dog lover, Bradshaw’s work may appear rife with esoteric ponderings, as illustrated in Chapter 6, “Does Your Dog Love You?” But for readers with well-loved pets who view their canines as family members, there’s much to digest as the author traces the dog’s cognitive growth process as he matures from a sensitive pup into adulthood. Above all, Bradshaw advocates for increased public awareness and education to create healthier relationships between people and their pets.
Enthusiasm for all things dog will help offset the sluggish pace of the author’s prose and dense scientific reasoning.