Review: Citizen Canine

Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs

Citizen Canine, by David Grimm.

In the past few years, I have read at least 75 books about dogs, so when a new dog book comes out, I kind of assume that I’ve already read some iteration of it before. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

But this has proven to be a false assumption with David Grimm’s new book, Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs.

Grimm explores the fast-paced and monumental success of American pets to become the most legally protected animals in the country. Given Americans’ deep love of their dogs and cats, and the billions of dollars a year we shell out on them, it is no longer surprising to hear that we consider our pets to be valid members of our families. But what does this mean for us as a culture? And what does it mean for the dogs and cats?

The author talks with scientists, canine researchers, animal shelters, law enforcement, inmates, and everyday pet lovers as he unpacks this significant modern conundrum. He presents us with an array of ponderous questions: What kind of emotions do animals feel? Should the punishments for animal abuse be equal to those of child abuse? How far do we take the “personhood” movement for pets? And what about all of the other animals, who aren’t lucky enough to live in our homes and sleep in our beds? What kind of obligations do we owe them? It’s dizzying to even begin to think about, but it’s an important consideration for those of us who willingly share our lives — and our pocketbooks — with these beloved, domesticated creatures.

Some of the researchers (such as Marc Bekoff, Brian Hare, and Alexandra Horowitz) and their opinions recounted in the book are already very familiar to me — as they may be to many of you — but they provide important context to Grimm’s exploration of the topic. His chapter on pit bull hysteria is also particularly excellent, providing a great deal of historical and contemporary context. It’s a well-researched and well-documented book, and Grimm does a superb job balancing a variety of perspectives here.

I heartily recommend this book to any US-based intellectual pet owner who has ever thought about the philosophical, legal, and cultural implications of pets as members of a human family.

Disclosure: I was NOT provided with a review copy; I checked this book out for myself at my local public library.

Review: Dr. Tim’s freeze-dried turkey hearts

Our girls are always willing taste-testers, but they were especially excited to try these freeze-dried turkey hearts by Dr. Tim’s.

Doggerel | Dr. Tim's freeze-dried treats review

They went crazy for them!

Doggerel | Dr. Tim's freeze-dried treats review

The treats are single ingredient (we received the turkey hearts, which come in small discs), raw, freeze-dried meat that has been USDA inspected and sourced from Wisconsin. Really excellent. I know lots about the benefits of raw feeding, and although we don’t do it ourselves, I think about it a lot. These treats are a nice way to reap some small benefits of raw feeding — without the mess and squeamishness on my part.

Doggerel | Dr. Tim's freeze-dried treats review

We also took a handful of these treats on a walk to a park to work with Pyrrha on her reactivity toward other dogs. They make great training treats, because you can easily break them up, but they don’t disintegrate. Plus, Pyrrha is just WILD about them, so they serve as a really powerful reinforcer in our quest to classically condition her on walks.

Doggerel | Dr. Tim's freeze-dried treats review

Highly, highly recommend these treats! The price may seem a little steep, but the package is generously portioned, and the quality is significant. You get what you pay for here, which is a seriously high-quality snack. They are currently on sale at Chewy.com, so check them out.

Such adorable beggars.

Such adorable beggars.

Do you ever feed raw treats to your dogs? If so, what works best for you?

Disclosure: We were provided with a package of these treats from Chewy.com in exchange for our honest review.

Small Poem about the Hounds and the Hares

Release the hounds!

Photo I took of a local hunt in central North Carolina, November 2012.

Small Poem about the Hounds and the Hares

Lisel Mueller

After the kill, there is the feast.
And toward the end, when the dancing subsides
and the young have sneaked off somewhere,
the hounds, drunk on the blood of the hares,
begin to talk of how soft
were their pelts, how graceful their leaps,
how lovely their scared, gentle eyes.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Even though I am not a fan of hunting, I love this little poem, and the notion that the dogs could be having such dreamy thoughts about their prey. Most likely, they’re just like, “OMG HARE MUST EAT.” But still. It’s a nice idea, Lisel Mueller.

Has your dog ever killed a wild thing? What do you think was going through his or her mind?

(Oh, yeah, and happy Friday!)

Review: A Wolf Called Romeo

A Wolf Called Romeo

After reading that Patricia McConnell — my dog lady hero — loved this book, I knew I had to add it to my reading docket. I was pleased to discover that my local library had a copy, and I tore through this book as quickly as McConnell promised I would.

Nick Jans tells a riveting story of a friendship that developed between a community of dog-lovers and a lone wolf. In the early 2000s, the community of Juneau, Alaska, started to notice this gorgeous male black wolf stalking around near their neighborhoods. Was he a threat? Was he dangerous? Where was his pack? The wolf’s background remained largely a mystery, but his purposes soon became clear: this wolf just loved dogs.

Yes. This enormous wild wolf was crazy about dogs, and all he wanted to do was play with them. He started to sit outside Jans’s house, waiting for him to come out with his dogs — including his true love, Dakotah the lab, who is pictured in that unbelievable cover photo above — earning him the moniker “Romeo.”

What follows is a riveting, well-told account of a three-way inter-species friendship between a wolf, dogs, and humans. Naturally, complications arise when the humans get more involved in Romeo’s story, and so you’ll have to read the book yourself to learn more. (Full disclosure: This book made me cry three times, and I am not one for sappy animal stories, as much as I love animals in the flesh. Jans doesn’t unfairly toy with one’s emotions. This is just a real, heart-rending story.)

My sole complaint of the book is that I wish that the photos had been reproduced in color; they are really beautiful, even in grayscale. I was able to find this color reproduction of Romeo, presumably taken by Jans, which appears in the book:

Romeo. (c) Nick Jans.

Romeo. (c) Nick Jans.

He really sounded like a remarkable wolf, and he provided Jans with a remarkable story to tell. A highly recommended book to anyone who loves animals, especially wolves, and the mysteries of inter-species relationships.

Disclosure: I was NOT provided with a review copy or asked to write this review. I checked it out myself from the library.

 

Writing process of a lax dog blogger

With thanks to Rebekah at My Rotten Dogs for the nomination and kind words, here are some thoughts about the secondary, quiet life of this particular dog blogger.

Nothing P hates more than a selfie.
What am I working on?

Truthfully, not much, by way of dog blogging. I’ve been feeling somewhat bereft of good ideas lately, and I’m hoping this is just a season that will pass. I have three dog book reviews in the docket, however, which I am looking forward to. In my real life, I’m a voracious reader, and so I always enjoy the opportunity to combine dogs and books, my two chief interests.

Why do I write what I do?

I started this blog in May 2011, a year before we adopted Pyrrha, with a dual purpose: (1) to chronicle my journey in learning everything I could about dogs before we got one of our own, and (2) to save my marriage, because my husband was sick of me talking about dogs night and day. Ha! The blog has proven to be a fun, fruitful endeavor, and I’m thankful for all of you — the community of dog bloggers. You have been so consistently helpful, supportive, and encouraging. I continue to write because my enthusiasm for dogs has not dimmed — and because our girls provide plenty of challenges and blogging fodder.

How does my writing process work?

Ideas will often come to me throughout the week, and I’ll start a draft post with some notes. I love WordPress (and I find it far superior to Blogger, having used both platforms), and I find its functionality very helpful to my drafting and organizing process. Taking photos of particular dog events, outings, and play-dates often serve as motivation to create a post, too. I need to do a better job of using my DSLR; since I got an iPhone, I’ve become increasingly lazy about “real” photography and have tended to rely on my phone.

I’d love to hear from you, fellow dog bloggers: How do you stay inspired and motivated with your blog? How do you pull yourself out of the inevitable ruts?