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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 ...
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.
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.
"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
Posted January 6, 2012
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.
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Posted March 7, 2012
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.
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Posted February 27, 2013