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.