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March 15, 2010 | Comments: 0 | Views: 101

Horowitz, Alexandra. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. New York: Scribner. 2009. 368 pages.

Psychologist and self-proclaimed dog lover, Alexandra Horowitz turned the research world inside out when she suggested to her PhD adviser a study of the ordinary dog. In academia the baboon was a worthier research subject. Determined Horowitz pursued an eight year study of man's best friend. Although a plethora of breed and training books are marketed yearly, there is little serious research on our canine companion. This book fills in some of the gaps. The author challenges the reader to view the world from the canine's point of view or umwelt. The result is an enjoyable and informative read for a general audience.

The book blends anecdotal and scientific material as it meanders to closure. Editing some of the research material on other animals may pick up the pace. Objective points in each chapter are illustrated by linkage to memories of her beloved dog, Pump. Horowitz validates her well documented research by making it personally relevant.

Some of the following points are particularly interesting. Although Horowitz acknowledges a DNA link, less than one percent, between dog and wolf in the distant past(145,000 years ago), she does not subscribe to current view of dogs as pack animals. She devotes a significant part of the book exploring physical, developmental and social differences between the dog and its progenitor the wolf. Her conclusion is no canids are as fully domesticated as the dog.

This year's Westminster show recognized 2,500 breeds. According to the author, classifications of AKC breeds are genetically inaccurate. Cairin terriers share much of their genomes with hounds, shepherds and mastiffs.

Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not color blind although their vision is somewhat muted. They see objects at a distance better than close-up, but sight is not a dog's primary sense. Humans have six million olfactory receptors. Depending on the breed, dogs can have over three hundred million. Two other misconceptions are clarified. Dogs do not urinate to mark territory but to pass on important information. Posture rather than size determines dominance.

Alexandra Horowitz has written a solid book that demands readers to view the world through the dog's senses. Greater understanding strengthens the bond between man and his best friend.

By Rosemary Biggio

Dr. Rosemary Biggio 1817 Forest Drive Williamstown, N.J. 08094 856-740-4889 856-740-0329(fax)

Born in NY, Retired teacher, Writer of fiction and nonfiction

Source: EzineArticles
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