Pup links!

This pittie makes a pretty good lion. Oh, the things our dogs put up with. Source: oddballdaily

Dog-related links from around the Web this week.

Pet Lovers, Pathologized. The New York Times ran an interesting article this week on the paradoxical cultural perspective of animal lovers: It’s OK to love hunting and eating animals for meat, but if you express emotional dependence on an animal, you are suddenly “crazy”–especially if you’re a woman. A very interesting article; recommended. (New York Times)

The Hounds of Hitchcock. Guion and I watched “Psycho” for the first time last night, in celebration of Halloween, and so I thought this was a seasonally appropriate collection of photos, showing the great Hitchcock himself with his Sealyham terriers. (Pawesome)

Photo Gallery: Animals That Saw Me. There are only a few dogs in here, but what a neat collection. Photographer Ed Panar explores the interaction between himself as the subject, the seen object, by the animals he encounters. This series especially makes me wonder what the animals are thinking as they look at us. Fear? Mild interest? Expectation? (Flavorwire)

What Would Patricia McConnell Do? Kristine is right: This is the question I always try to ask myself whenever I’m interacting with dogs. (Rescued Insanity)

Weak in the Face of Puppy Breath. The “Tales & Tails” family goes to visit a litter of German shepherd puppies. Heart is bursting! (Tales and Tails)

How to Pick a Shelter Dog. Reflections on picking out a dog to adopt from your local shelter. (Dog Training Secret)

Diary of the Coveteur. Christine collects a series of photos from the fashionistas from the Coveteur and their pampered pooches. (Miles to Style)

Pine Everything. An “unhappy hipster” shiba blends in with his surroundings. (Unhappy Hipsters)

Did you dress up your dogs for Halloween? If so, what did they go as? Did they put up with the costumes?

Pup links!

An Aussie and his castle. Source: blacksheepcardigans.com

A lot of great dog-related links from around the Web this week!

Dogs of Darjeeling. This is the best pup link I’ve seen yet: My sister’s amazing and beautiful photographs of the dogs she saw while she was living in and around Darjeeling, India. So striking! The photos make me remember that, regardless of where in the world you are, dogs are still dogs. It’s perhaps a silly thing to think, but I an enamored with this collection of her photography. Check it out. (Como Say What?)

Why You’re NOT Doing a Good Deed When You “Rescue” that Pet Store Puppy. This is an article I wish so many people would read. It’s such an ethically murky situation, I know, but this is a perspective that needs to be amplified. (Dogster)

Why Dog Women Get More Respect than Cat Ladies. An interesting article on Slate this week about why it’s easier to be taken seriously if you’re a crazy dog lady instead of a crazy cat lady. Not fair, of course, but a curious cultural phenomenon, perhaps. (Slate)

New York Times Goes Dog-Crazy. A brief look at the dog-centric memoirs that are cropping up in the pages of the Times. (Daily Intel)

How Much Money Should I Spend on My Dog’s Vet Care? And how much is too much? A well-expressed opinion from Lindsey Stordahl about how we navigate the difficult decisions between veterinary care, finances, and our dogs. (That Mutt)

26 Reasons Why Owning a Puppy Is the Same as Raising a Toddler. A funny list, but it certainly emphasizes what a serious commitment we undertake when we bring a puppy into our lives. (A Peek Inside the Fishbowl)

Diary by Kingsley: I Made a Video. One of the blogosphere’s most famous bulldogs, Kingsley, has a video playing with his new sister, human baby Eleanor. (Rockstar Diaries)

Hello, I Feel Like I Know You. Sweet and colorful portraits of dogs and their humans by artist Paule Trudel Bellmare. (Under the Blanket)

Don’t Like Your New Dog’s Name? Karen London gives some practical tips on changing your adopted dog’s name. I feel pretty sure that I will want to rename our future dog, and so this is a helpful thing to think about. What about you? Did you change your dog’s name? (The Bark)

Inspiring Photos of Pets with Disabilities. A charming collection of portraits of dogs with disabilities. There is joy and life in their eyes. (Flavorwire)

Review: Dog’s Best Friend

Dog's Best Friend, Mark Derr

Dog’s Best Friend is perhaps the first “academic” dog book I’ve read (it was actually published by the University of Chicago Press, first in 1997, with the second edition coming out in 2004). The book is a hefty survey of the historical relationship between dogs and humans, spanning from the dawn of time to the present day. I picked it up from the library, because I recognized the author’s name from a 2006 piece he published in the New York Times, lambasting Cesar Millan for the incredible damage he has done to Americans’ perceptions of dogs and dog training.

The title seems to be a bit of a joke, for if anything, this book highlights how poorly we often treat dogs. Although humans are responsible for the incredible evolutionary success of the dog as a species, modern people have not done very well by the domestic dog.

As an example of humankind’s mistreatment of the dog, Derr devotes an entire chapter to the atrocities of the AKC and purebred breeders. He explores the genetic and behavioral problems we have introduced to dogs through vigorous inbreeding, purely for the sake of creating an animal that pleases the eye or tickles our fancy. Derr also writes extensively about the shady and often elitist practices of the AKC and other breed registry clubs, who are inclined to consider dog shows a “sport” for the wealthy to create dogs with no regard for the dog’s physical or mental well being.

Derr himself has two Catahoula leopard dogs and his preference for “primitive” or unregistered dog breeds is apparent throughout the book. I enjoyed reading about his adventures in the American wilderness–often in the South–with people who still bred and raised dogs for distinct purposes, but did so without any regard for bloodline or breed purity. If the dog can hunt, it is a hunting dog, regardless of its parentage, and so forth. It’s a world that seems very far removed from my own, and yet I often see many of these types of dogs (often indistinguishable hound crosses) at our local SPCA.

I liked the book and yet it was very unsettling to me. I found myself very swayed by Derr’s arguments about the absurdity of the AKC and the ridiculous promulgation of breeds who would, if left to nature, quickly die out (for example, bulldogs, other brachycephalic breeds, and most toy dogs, who would not last if not artificially sustained by humans). The main point that I got from this book was that we should not seek dogs who are on either extreme of the size spectrum. Both Great Danes and chihuahuas are bred to an unhealthy extreme of size. Dogs should not only be able to live six or seven years, because their hearts cannot sustain their enormous size. Likewise, dogs should not be bred so small that they develop severe anxiety issues and cannot protect themselves from the weather.

Derr’s point, again and again, is that we need to be called to a higher standard with how we raise and breed dogs. Have some respect for the dog’s well being, lifespan, and genetic soundness. Don’t breed dogs just because you think they look funny or pretty if that breeding makes them unable to live a long and healthy life. This argument is why Derr himself has repeatedly turned to “unregistered” and largely unrecognizable local dog breeds; the dogs are purportedly healthier and saved from the reaches of the breed enthusiasts. Essentially, Dog’s Best Friend raises a lot of the difficult ethical questions that we must face if we are people who, like myself, are inclined to desire purebreds.

Review: Inside of a Dog

Inside of a Dog, by Alexandra Horowitz

I’m an avid reader of book reviews, and I first heard of this wonderful book in the New York Times Book Review. Critic Cathleen Schine gives a fair and warm review of the book, writing that author Alexandra Horowitz is keen on dropping “some lovely observation, some unlikely study, some odd detail that causes one’s dog-loving heart to flutter with astonishment and gratitude.” You could hardly find a more fitting description of what this book did to me.

Alexandra Horowitz is a psychology professor at Barnard College, Columbia University, and an increasingly renowned animal cognitive scientist, now specializing in the minds and lives of dogs.

Inside of a Dog is almost like a book-length version of Temple Grandin’s chapter on dogs in Animals Make Us Human. It’s a thoughtfully presented review of the behavior and body of a dog, without muddling the information with overly cutesy asides or peremptory training tips. It’s just straight science, simplified for your average dog owner.

Appropriately, I learned a lot about dogs from this book. By this stage in my dog reading, I feel like I’ve already learned most of what I could learn about canine psychology and behavior. It’s not a very old science and most of the reputable research has been widely disseminated throughout the seminal training texts. But Horowitz drops a lot of knowledge on you in this hefty book. And I enjoyed every second of it. For instance, you know why dogs are so good at catching Frisbees? Horowitz explains, in more scientific terms than I am capable of, that it’s because dogs see things about a millisecond faster than we do. Because of this ability and motion sensitivity, dogs are much better at predicting the path of a flying disc than mere humans.

Little facts like this are a large part of the appeal of this book, but I liked it more for Horowitz’s detail-oriented and almost narrative style. She gives you the scientific evidence that you crave, but she also gives you the gentle lightheartedness of a fellow dog lover. Her anecdotes about her beloved mixed breed Pumpernickel are heartwarming without being overly saccharine.

Horowitz is clearly a great researcher, but she’s also a great writer. She has written previously for the New Yorker and it shows. Girl knows what she’s doing. I appreciated this book that much more because of her skill with a pen. Dog people are not necessarily also word people (and often for good reason), and so it’s a special bonus when you find someone who is both, like Horowitz (and like Patricia McConnell, I’d wager).

All that to say, I highly recommend this book. I’m inclined to give a copy to the other dog owners in my life, because there’s no doubt in my mind that they’d enjoy this book as much as I did.