Tuesday, June 9, 2009

From My Reading List

Just finished the book One Nation Under Dog: Adventures in the New World of Prozac-Popping Puppies, Dog-Park Politics and Organic Pet Food, by Michael Schaffer (Henry Holt and Company, NY, 2009). Schaffer, a journalist and a dog-owner, strolls through the quirks and foibles of American pet-ownership, spending time at a pet-supplies trade show, unraveling the tangles of on-leash vs. off-leash park use in San Francisco, and participating in a pet-bereavement support group.

The result? An entertaining, factual, but not strident book that focuses on the changing role of dogs in American society. I’ve perused more in-depth books on various aspects that Shaffer covers, yet this book provides a brisk, timely read for those interested in animal-human relations. Shaffer is a journalist, but he has a folksy way of writing, and offers chatty footnotes detailing his investigations. Not bad for a tour of the various foibles and peculiarities of American dog-ownership.

Schaffer is democratic—writing thoughtfully, without painting an either-or picture about issues such as Cesar Milan-style “dominant” training vs. reward-training, traditional kibble foods (think Iams or Purina) vs. raw food diets, and the way veterinarian practices have become more sophisticated (and expensive) as people apply human standards to animal treatment protocol. Great for trip reading or as an introduction to major dog-related trends in America.


  1. Hmmm - that's going to have to go on the list! I am currently reading the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, you might like it.

    My blog address has changed to jellopeasandcarrots.blogspot.com

  2. What's your take on "Merle's Door"?

  3. GoLightly--I saw it at Barnes & Noble, but haven't read it yet. I need to call it up through the Library system.

    Another choice from my list: " Tell Me Where It Hurts" by Nick Trout, a British-born American veternarian. Light, funny and so true!

    Or, for a broader, but in-depth look at social and moral issues as they pertain to animals, try
    Dominon: The Power of Man, the Surrfering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy," by Matthew Scully, 2002.

  4. Oh, and I need to add this one, too:

    Death: A Life, with George Pendle.

    It has nothing to do with animals (except for the ever-so-true problems with puppies) but if you want a biting, funny, pun-ful summer choice, don't skip this memoir about the Grim Reaper!


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