Our Dogs, Ourselves
We keep dogs and are kept by them. We love dogs and (we assume) we are loved by them. Even while we see ourselves in dogs, we also treat them in surprising ways. On the one hand, we let them into our beds, we give them meaningful names, make them members of our family, and buy them the best food, toys, accessories, clothes, and more. But we also shape our dogs into something they aren’t meant to be. Purebreeding dogs has led to many unhealthy pups. Many dogs have no homes, or live out their life in shelters. How is it possible we can treat the same species in these two totally different ways?
In Our Dogs, Ourselves Young Readers Edition, bestselling author of Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz reveals the odd, surprising, and contradictory ways we live with dogs.
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?
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.