Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving

N.B. This review has been based of an uncorrected proof copy of the title the and content of the final publication may differ from the way mentioned in this article.

Being a person who love animals, and dogs above all, I found great pleasure in reading through Jeffrey Moussaieff   Mason's The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving, a scholarly composition putting the man-dog relationship in  a new light, a good proportion of it based on the authors observation of his own very special dog Benji.   

I've selected a small part of the author's introduction of the book which pretty well states the main hypotheses he tries to bring forward, and I'll quote it below.

"..........It struck me as extraordinary, and highly suggestive, that at the very moment when human were domesticating wolves into dogs, humans themselves were still in the throes of domestication, shedding their biological skins and being transformed by the the culture they were building around them. This raised the striking possibility that it was partly through our association with dogs that we went from primitive humans to Homo sapiens..........."

Why do you think  Jeffrey Moussaieff  has used his dog  Benji as a case study for this book? Obviously Benji was unique, but how so? Let's here it in his own words.
"....... there is one area where Benji excels: he can not stop loving. He loves all dogs, all humans, all cats, all rats, and all birds.He loves them all equally and  intensely. He has yet to meet a species he is not fond of. He is not extraordinary: he is a lab, after all. ................He has never been in a fight with another dog, although my three cats some times slap him in the face for the sheer pleasure of it, and he always looks completely mystified. He is a big(80lb),strong dog with huge teeth and an awesome jaw, but I have never seen him loose his temper, get angry or even testy......"

But don't get the impression that this book is all about this one particular dog. The author has included  a lot of information about other dogs, many theories and beliefs of other scholars, dog owners and dog trainers about dogs, related to them, and argued against them in his attempt to make his point.

I find the authors idea of dogs having played, or even still playing,  a significant role in humans having become who they are or becoming who they would be quite plausible, for he has pointed out some undeniable facts to support that, some of those facts about the how the relationship between man and dog differs greatly from  that of man and any other domesticated animal, some ting that we, well, I, have always taken for granted.  

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  1. This is fascinating- it is definitely a survival advantage for dogs to befriend humans...but why? They do seem to love everything (almost). Somehow, it may be that they helped to make us what we are. My dogs sure have done that! Thanks for the great review, Amila!

  2. Hi Diane, I'm glad that you found this review interesting. Being loved so unconditionally by a dog definitely changes a person. The humans are not that good at unconditional love, are they?

  3. Hi Amila,
    They do seem to have a special ability to look past our shortcomings.
    It may sound odd, but dogs are used here in prison programs. Prisoners learn to train and socialize rescued (abused) dogs, to help them (the dogs) get ready for a new home. Of course, both parties benefit greatly from this...
    Thanks again - I'll be on the lookout for this book.

  4. Yes Diane,the prison programs were mentioned in the book too.


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