Alexandra Horowitz, the author of the lively, highly informative New York Times best-selling blockbuster Inside of a Dog, explains how dogs perceive the world through their most spectacular organ - the nose - and how we humans can put our underused sense of smell to work in surprising ways.
What the dog sees and knows comes mostly through his nose, and the information that every dog takes in about the world just based on smell is unthinkably rich. To a dog there is no such thing as "fresh air". Every gulp of air is full of information.
In Being a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz, an eminent research scientist in the field of dog cognition, explores what the nose knows by taking an imaginative leap into what it is like to be a dog. Inspired by her own family dogs, Finnegan and Upton, Horowitz sets off on a quest to make sense of scents. In addition to speaking to experts across the country, Horowitz visits the California Narcotic Canine Association Training Institute and the Stapleton Group's Vapor Wake explosives dog training team; she meets vets and researchers working with dogs to detect cancerous cells and anticipate epileptic seizures or diabetic shock; and she travels with Finnegan to the West Coast, where he learns how to find truffles. Horowitz even attempts to smell-train her own nose.
Being a Dog is a scientifically rigorous book that presents cutting-edge research with literary flair. Revealing such surprising facts as panting dogs cannot smell to explaining how dogs tell time by detecting lingering smells, Horowitz covers the topic of noses - both canine and human - from curious and always fascinating angles. As we come to understand how rich, complex, and exciting the world around us appears to a dog's sense of smell, we can begin to better appreciate it through our own.
©2016 Alexandra Horowitz. All rights reserved. (P)2016 Simon & Schuster
This book is pure poetry. The science is certainly there and very accessible but the book is a love poem to dogs. The fact that Dr. Horowitz reads the work herself makes the poetic nature of the prose hit even harder. I've had dogs all my life, I'm 53, and this book has opened my eyes to the world of my current dog in ways that I never expected. I thought I was buying a dog psychology book, and that's what I got, but I got so much more. As I listen to the descriptions of how dogs experience the world, I'm often moved to tears by the beauty of the words. Because of this book, the daily walks with my dog are a bit longer, a bit slower, and I'm less likely to pull him away from something I'd find revolting.
If you have a dog, you should buy this book.
If you're thinking of getting one, you NEED to buy this book.
As a dog trainer and lover I was curious about the book. Once began to listen I enjoyed the book more than any other I have read or heard about dogs and their abilities before. So now I am off to go read her other book. Thank you Alexandra Horowitz's for your extensive research and personal experiences. I have and will continue to recommend this book to both my clients and friends.
I enjoyed Ms Horowitz's first book enough to buy copies for my dog owning friends. This time I'm extending my recommendations to friends who are doctor's, people with exploring curiosity and those who enjoy examining the world around them. The joy Ms Horowitz takes in exploring the worlds of noses, both of dogs and humans, is too exciting to be missed.
I learned that I should pay more attention to smell. The book is a little wordy but an interesting listen. If you're a Dog person or you're crazy about dogs, I'd recommend it.
It's literally changed the world for me! I now know I have a nose and my dog has "superpowers". It's amazing I've never thought about smelling the world around, I now do (!). It's the best book ever!!
I loved the sections of the book where the author focused on the dogs and their abilities to sense and interpret the world through odor. We are fostering our 11th (Military Working Dog) MWD puppy from the Breeding Program at Lackland. These dogs are all Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherds from European working dog stock, and they are bred to have excesses of courage, persistence, strength, and drive for bite work and detection. We have 4 adopted adult Malinois who live with us, and they all do Nose Work, very much as Alexandra Horowitz described in the last section. We also have some familiarity with the training the military does with the young dogs before they leave us and after they are returned for military training at 7 months.
Therefore my interest is on the dogs, and I care much less about the experience and ability of humans to perceive the world through odor. For comparison, some of the information was valuable, but I found many sections in this book with too much detail of her own personal development of ability to discern the meanings of odor. I would have preferred that more of the book be devoted to what we have learned about the dogs' abilities. Often I was merely tantalized on a subject such as dogs' ability to sense disease in humans and wanted more research detail than was offered. Instead of giving me more about the dogs, the author returned to tedious descriptions of her own personal sense of smell.
I much preferred Inside a Dog, a previous book by Horowitz. It provided more information on dogs and was narrated by a professional while this book was read by the author herself. Many times I found myself slightly irritated by the narrator's tone and rhythm. It wasn't awful, but I noticed it and was distracted.
Overall I was disappointed in this book. I felt very enthused during the "dog chapters" and strongly considered getting copies for our nose work trainer and the head of the MWD breeding program. However, during the long "human chapters" I knew they would never persist with this much introspection by a mere human; dogs are their passion (and mine). Because the information on the dogs never gained the depth I had expected, I was sure none of what was presented here would be new to them.
And so I rated the book 3 stars, which is a low score for me since I am very selective in my choice of reading material. It was probably 4 stars for the "dog parts" and 2 stars for the "people parts."
For those lacking background with detection in working dogs, this book would probably be a good introduction, and perhaps the extensive discussion of human sniffing would provide valuable context for them. The author writes well and descriptively. She loves dogs, and I admire her tremendously for that as well as her appreciation of their talents. The book is worth reading, but I hope this excellent author will write a more detailed, research-based work on this subject.
The passion for the author's work comes through in this self-narrated work. A fascinating, behind the scenes look at a dog's amazing sense of smell, and our own obtuse response to it.
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