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Dog’s Best Friend

Annals of the Dog-Human Relationship

A comprehensive, humane, and bemused tour of the dog-human relationship, Dog’s Best Friend combines anecdote, research, and reportage to illuminate our complex rapport with our cherished canine companions. Tracking our national obsession with an animal that now outnumbers children in American households, Mark Derr chronicles the evolution of "the culture of the dog" from the prehistoric domestication of tamed wolves to the modern horrors of overbreeding and inbreeding.

Passionate about his subject and intent on sharing his zeal, Derr defends dogs with wit and flare, producing here a quirky, informative, and fitting tribute to our love affair with canines big and small.

401 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1997, 2004

Biological Sciences: Natural History


"Wide-ranging and well-written... Mark Derr’s book is a quirky and ever fascinating walking tour through the long history of dog human-relations."

Christine Adkins | Modern Dog Magazine

"If you’ve ever owned a dog or are anticipating the purchase of one, this well-researched volume is a must addition to your library."

Ranny Green | Seattle Times

"A sweeping, lapidary history of our relationship with dogs. A fan of the dog for many years, Derr set out to write a cultural history of the dog-human nexus, one that touched on the emotional, intellectual, and physical aspects, the good, bad, and ugly ways we go about communing with the beasts. He succeeds admirably."

Kirkus Reviews

Table of Contents

Preface, 2004
1. A Wolf in Dog’s Clothing
Track of Ages
Defining Dog
Taming Wolf
Becoming Dog
Degrees of Separation
Reading of the Trail
Proper Distance
2. Big Dogs and Little Dogs
Basic Division
The Large and Small of It
Feist Dogs
Big Dogs
Florida Curs
3. Common Scents
Following Scent
Basic Training
A Question of Odor
4. Gnashing Teeth
The Dance
Hounds of Hell
5. The Culture of Instinct
Hard-working Dogs
6. The Ugliness of Beauty
The Show
Ruined Dogs
The Fancy
The Dark Underbelly
7. Mutts of the North
The Long Haul
The Dogs
Happy Trails
Iditarod: The Controversy
Humans and Dogs
8. By Land, Sea, and Air
Breeding and Training
Disc Drive
9. Dogs for People
Service Dogs
Failed Contracts
Give the Dog a Treat
10. Bringing It All Back Home
The Perfect Dog
Down the Road
Appendix - Finding a Dog
Selected Bibliography

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