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auspex

Novel Tease

Random meanderings about the books I love—or don't. 

Interspersed with observations about my hobbies: Beer & Wine, Bridge, Bikes and Bow-wows.

Currently reading

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak
Pontypool Changes Everything
Tony Burgess
Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know - Alexandra Horowitz My dog is broken.

Now, I'm not surprised by that. She's a rescued dog, who was clearly never socialized with other dogs, poorly socialized with people, and spent at least six months living off the land before she was caught and finally ended up in my care. But I was a bit surprised by how much the examples in this book were underlined by how different my dog is from the ones Horowitz has observed.

My Bella doesn't play. She doesn't know how to react among other dogs (and yet she has little trouble with our cat, who is mean to her). She clearly connects with my wife and me, yet I can't quite feel she's "bonded".

I've had many dogs - over thirty+ years of dog ownership (with as many as three dogs at a time during), and behaviours described by Horowitz were obvious in almost all of them, and it's quite clear from her descriptions of the causes of these behaviours in what way my poor Bella was broken.

What disappointed me in this book was the lack of depth in most of her analysis. Early on she claims that dogs, unlike wolves, don't form packs to hunt cooperatively. I'm not going to try to argue that dog packs are the same, or even very similar, to wolf packs, but anybody who's lived in a small northern town should be familiar with free-running dog packs (frequently house dogs who go home for breakfast) that cooperatively hunt game as large as deer.

Much later, she introduces Thomas Nagel who asked "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?", shortly after it became apparent that bats "see" via echolocation. Horowitz makes a big deal about how important that is - that we really can't ever understand another species - and yet, in recent years, we dohave people who "see" via echolocation: see Daniel Kish; and we have cameras that convert video to audio-scans where the user eventually learns to see - the brain even converts the signals to images! So, are we so different from bats? I'd love to know what Nagel thinks about that - and if something as different as seeing via echolocation is not enough to differentiate us from another species, maybe dogs are pretty similar to us after all.