Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Book 23 of 2014: Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

I think I acquired this book back when we first got Tara. My Mum-in-Law picked it up somewhere and let me have it to read. I stuck it on my bookshelf and never quite got around to reading it until in the summer when I’d finished my course and all the required reading I’d had over the last couple of years.

This is a book which looks at the way that dogs see the world. It covers everything from how they interact physically with the world around them, what might be going on in their heads as well as how they view their relationships with humans. It’s written by someone who has studied dogs for years and includes lovely little examples of interactions between dogs and humans which she has witnessed or recorded, many of these feature her own dog, Pumpkin.

I found this book really, really interesting. It was fascinating. I especially enjoyed the bits that looked at how dogs have changed from the animals that we started to invite into our homes to the animals we view as pets now. It looked at how that happened and why it progressed as it did, as well as how their interaction with us changed the sort of animal that they are.

It also made me look at Tara differently. As I was reading about how dogs use their senses I felt that I understood more about what Tara was doing. Like when we go for a walk and she sniffs everything little thing, she’s building up information about all the people and animals that have passed through an area. Likewise, when I come home from the end of the day and receive a good sniff, Tara’s finding out all about what I’ve been up to during the way. That sniff is the doggy equivalent of asking how my day’s been. I found I was looking at Tara through new eyes almost from the first page.

At the back are a whole bunch of suggested activities that you can try with your canine friend. There are tips for when you’re playing with your dog, based on the way that dogs play with each other which I’ve tried. I also loved the idea of going for a ‘smell walk’ this is where you go for a walk and let your dog lead the way. People don’t go for walks in the same way as dogs and I’m very aware of the fact that my way of walking often means leaving some of the most interesting areas in favour of the more practical ones which aren’t really where Tara wants to go.

You do feel a little bit self-conscious going for a walk when you let your dog choose the route, this is mainly because you end up walking round in circles or doubling back on yourself. It’s not really practical if you’ve got somewhere to be or are in the middle of town. But out on the estate or on the beach it’s a great exercise. It’s interesting to see how ingrained my routes are for Tara now because she’d pick the routes we usually go on with only slight deviations and long pauses for sniffing.

My one issue with the book was the fact that it basically deals with dogs from cradle to grave and so I knew it was going to be sad when it started talking about dogs in old age. I was not prepared for just how sad it was going to be. I cried my eyes out when she described the passing of her dog, Pump.

This is a fantastic book for anyone with a dog, or any one who has owned a dog, or anyone who might own a dog in the future. It’s really interesting and I love it for the activity suggestions at the end alone, but the insight it gives you into your furry friend is brilliant.

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