How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends

( 3 )

Overview

That the dog evolved from the wolf is an accepted fact of evolution and history, but the question of how wolf became dog has remained a mystery, obscured by myth and legend. How the Dog Became the Dog posits that dog was an evolutionary inevitability in the nature of the wolf and its human soul mate.

The natural temperament and social structure of humans and wolves are so similar that as soon as they met on the trail they recognized themselves in each other. Both are highly ...

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How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends

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Overview

That the dog evolved from the wolf is an accepted fact of evolution and history, but the question of how wolf became dog has remained a mystery, obscured by myth and legend. How the Dog Became the Dog posits that dog was an evolutionary inevitability in the nature of the wolf and its human soul mate.

The natural temperament and social structure of humans and wolves are so similar that as soon as they met on the trail they recognized themselves in each other. Both are highly social, accomplished generalists, and creatures of habit capable of adapting—homebodies who like to wander.

How the Dog Became the Dog presents "domestication" of the dog as a biological and cultural process that began in mutual cooperation and has taken a number of radical turns. At the end of the last Ice Age, the first dogs emerged with their humans from refuges against the cold. In the eighteenth century, humans began the drive to exercise full control of dog reproduction, life, and death to complete the domestication of the wolf begun so long ago.

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Editorial Reviews

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"Intriguing . . . Derr's book seeks to get at the existential mystery of that ancient link between people and dogs." --Los Angeles Times

"Derr's richly detailed, well-sourced research, however, offers a full plate of choices and razor-sharp analysis to help you connect the dots while not undermining the authenticity of the big picture." --Seattle Kennel Club

"An accessible and informative history that's sympathetic and illuminating." --Salon.com

Publishers Weekly
Reaching back into murky prehistory to determine just when, where, and how the wolf joined forces with early man to become the domesticated dog we know today has long proven difficult. With this informative account, Derr (Dog's Best Friend) takes on the challenge of untangling the limited, often contradictory findings available from archeological digs and genetic studies to seek the dog's origins. Rejecting the argument once prevalent among biologists, that dogs evolved from wolves that hung around prehistoric villages to scavenge, Derr delineates instead a past in which wolves and humans teamed up to bring down more game and to reap other advantages from each other's company, in a process made inevitable by the similarity of their social natures and pack hunting techniques. Sadly, Derr's envisioning of this ancient friendship falls prey to sentimentality: "I can almost see through the occluded lens of time three wolves lazing outside the cave mouth," begins one hazy scene. And the book's catalogue of prehistory and Neanderthal stomping grounds could do with a bit more focus: some chapters jump around desultorily or lose focus. Still, Derr's real affinity for canines comes through strongly, and the book should appeal to dog lovers with a curiosity about the origins of their favorite companion. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"A transporting slice of dog/wolf thinking that will pique the interest of anyone with a dog in their orbit." —-Kirkus
Kirkus Reviews

Derr (A Dog's History of America,2004, etc.) explores various scenarios on the road to the long, fruitful relationship between dogs and humans.

"Among the broader population of Pleistocene wolves and human were individuals who by virtue of extreme sociability and curiosity, or both, became best friends and compatriots after encountering each other on the trail," writes the author in this rangy, critically stimulating and warm book. Derr begins with an overview of behavioral and biological experiments and models and theories, which becomes a dirge-like march, perhaps because readers know that he is going to pick many of them apart. So much new information comes in daily regarding dog studies that the ground is always shaky. But there are a number of ideas, backed by research and evidence, which Derr unfolds in a quietly stirring manner. The first is that wolves and humans were drawn together by their mutual sociability and curiosity, and that they stayed together thanks to mutual utility. All evidence places the first dogs at the camps of hunters, so the old notion that humans and dogwolves first made acquaintance around the local dumpster can be laid to rest. "Rather it was an animal capable of forming an active friendship with a creature from another species," and, absent proof otherwise, likely consensual, in response to the needs and desires of both. Indeed, being able to manage anger and fear, control assertiveness and restraint and moderate one's appetite is more wolf than primate behavior. Derr also provides a striking geographical analysis of mixing grounds ("a biological and a cultural process involving two highly mobile species") and enjoyable illustrative scenarios as he imagines specific events taking place.

A transporting slice of dog/wolf thinking that will pique the interest of anyone with a dog in their orbit.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781468302691
  • Publisher: Overlook TP
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 941,201
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author


Mark Derr is an expert on the subject of dogs and the author of Dog's Best Friend and A Dog's History of America.

David Colacci has worked as a narrator for over fifteen years, during which time he has won AudioFile Earphones Awards, earned Audie nominations, and been included on Best of Year lists by such publications as Publishers Weekly, AudioFile magazine, and Library Journal.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 6, 2012

    Horribly inaccurate

    This book is without a doubt the worst science book I've read. It is pseudoscience from cover to cover and nearly all the key points made within the text are complete conjecture based on the faulty logic of the author. The simple fact that you can read page after page of supposed facts with very few references should be enough to dismiss this book as nothing more than a layperson's beliefs about what he would like to be true of a juvenile and Walt Disney-ish notion of modern canines. It is also poorly organized, contains multiple grammatical errors, is incredibly redundant, and uses circular arguments. As if this were not enough, the author's understanding of the mechanics of evolution are on par with a middle school child's. Not only are his hypotheses impossible from an evolutionary standpoint, but they are deeply set in the vein of Lamarck.
    I would not recommend this book under any circumstances to anyone.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Overall, very disappointing. This book is a very difficult rea


    Overall, very disappointing. This book is a very difficult read.
    The first eleven chapters are strangely written - disjointed, combining a few facts with much speculation, skipping rapidly from one geologic location to another. The facts presented are scattered and not developed. It is impossible to draw any conclusions about how dogs evolved from wolves.
    Beginning with chapter 12 the book becomes somewhat more coherent and readable.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2013

    Whipering Waterz

    Whipering Waters are a shallow pound that has a river conuvked to it. Its peaceful

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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