Email this review


 The cat publishing craze may be going to the dogs: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's The Hidden Life of Dogs is a bestseller, while a grinning canine recently graced the cover of Newsweek. And now here comes a rewarding, if scattered, potpourri of essays, columns, and miscellany--mostly dog-related--from the writer who may know more than any other about dogs and their desires, resonances, and destinies. As in her earlier books (Bandit, 1991, etc.), Hearne again blends philosophical expertise (she's a fellow at Yale's Institution for Social and Policy Studies) with the vast knowledge she's earned during more than 25 years as an animal trainer. The material ranges widely--beginning with slight but well-turned columns that first appeared in the Los Angeles Times, covering matters from a ``therapy dog'' who works with the sick to the banes and delights of tortoise-owning; moving on to slightly longer, chewier pieces that celebrate Airedales and, in ``Beware of the Dog!'' James Thurber's relish for dogs and dog-writing; skirting silliness with snappish advice columns (``Dear Josephine Trainer'') originally published in a Pit Bull Terrier newsletter; and flowering into profundity in a final section, ``Possibilities,'' comprised of four essays that explore the nature of animal happiness. One of these pieces, ``Wittgenstein's Lion,'' offers a meditation on human-animal communication; the others--through looking at the work of an orangutan trainer, the ethics of pet ownership, and animals' divorce from human values as exemplified in the Book of Job--elaborate Hearne's opposition to the animal-rights movement (``an owner is the only rights granter a dog can know....the owner that belongs to him'') and laud ``the wonders of animal-human work'' (``knowledge of knowledge of the divine''). ``All happiness is animal happiness,'' says Hearne--including, then, the reader happiness produced by this smart, passionate, and challenging work.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-019016-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1993


NonfictionOINK by Matt Whyman
by Matt Whyman