Review Detail

Kids Nonfiction 117
Understanding your best friend
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)  
 
4.0
Learning Value 
 
5.0
Ms. Horowitz is a scientist who studies dogs and who has written several books about dogs and their behavior, including Inside of a Dog. This current volume is more concerned with the interactions we have with our dogs. This was quite interesting to me, since I read it during the stay-at-home portion of the pandemic, so my dog Sylvie and I had just spent just about every second of six weeks together, so the first chapter about the human-dog bond? It hit home.

The various chapters hit on high interest topics that should appeal to young readers. Starting with a chapter on dog names is perfect, since that is one of the first ways we interact with pets, even before we get them. I loved the overview of the history of dog names, and the array of names that Horowitz has seen in her work. It's also interesting when Horowitz mentions her own pets and their names. There are some chapters that address the ethics of pet owning in a way that will be accessible to younger readers; is a pet property or part of the family? What are humans' obligations to dogs? Most importantly, what is the correct way to breed dogs, adopt dogs, and deal with medical issues relating to them, such as spaying and neutering as well as breed specific surgeries?
Good Points
Lighter chapters include one on how people talk to their dogs, statistics about different observations Horowitz has had in her lab, pets as a force in consumerism, and the science behind the "guilty look" that dogs often exhibit, which I have long suspected is just a reaction to being reprimanded. Horowitz agrees.

I've read a number of books on the history of human/dog interactions, but I can't remember the titles because they were adult books and I didn't buy them for my library. It's a topic that I find fascinating, but haven't seen well represented in middle grade literature. There are some good historical overviews, like Sarah Albee's Dog Days, but this is the best book I've seen on every day interactions with dogs as pets. Or, as Horowitz points out, members of our families that just happen to have four legs.
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