This is probably the strangest book I have read so far in my year of dog book reading. Roger Caras, you were such a funny little man! I’m not even sure where to begin with a review. Caras, who passed away in 2001, was a president of the ASPCA and a long-time host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. His deep love for dogs is apparent in this odd little book.
First, A Dog Is Listening is quite short and readable. So, that’s nice. The book begins with short chapters on all of the senses a dog has (sight, smell, touch, taste, etc.). The chapters, though, don’t really stick to their headings, and Caras has a tendency to wander off on some goose chase, talking about his farm and his large pack of dogs, or about some news story he recently read, or about fanciful domestication legends. Sticking to the topic at hand is not a primary concern for him.
His writing tone is also somewhat bizarre; it almost sounds like he’s read too many mid-19th-century British novelists and is trying to imitate one. The language construction is very strange and stilted.
The book is also peppered with totally unrelated black-and-white photographs or paintings of dogs throughout history. I enjoyed looking at them, but they were never mentioned or referenced in the text; many of them didn’t even have captions.
Overall, I wouldn’t say that I disliked it; it was entertaining and interesting, for the most part, but I’m not sure if I really learned anything. Oh, well. I just like reading about people’s undying love of dogs.