A year isn't a good year without reading some dog literature. So I wanted to make sure 2014 wasn't lacking in that department and read The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think by Vanessa Words and Brian Hare.
It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the term that the author coined for the field he studies: "dognition." I was amazed to learn how incredibly smart some dogs can be, learning to recognize 800-1,000 words in some cases (!). I found it very interesting how many of the techniques used to study human infant learning applied directly to studying dog cognition, and how many lessons that we learned from dogs can apply to helping us understand human cognition as well.
I was surprised by how many new things I learned about the evolution of dogs and domestication (a lot of what I considered true before, like the idea of humans domesticating dogs, is a myth). The idea that surprised and struck me the most was that dogs may have actually domesticated us.
This book featured a mix of stories about the author's dogs as well as a review of many of the recent scientific studies that have been performed to understand animal cognition. I liked how the author distinguished clearly between studies that found significant results and those which were inconclusive.
Here are my biggest overall takeaways, and below are my notes.
Notes on A Dog's Purpose
Sorry, been away from the blog for a while (been super busy IRL).
I did read a wonderful book a while ago that I wanted to post my notes on. It was A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. I knew I had to read it simply from the cover (I think the dog shown is my favorite breed: Neapolitan Mastiff); in this case, I truly judged the book by its cover.
It was a tear-jerking story told from the perspective of a dog (it's subtitle is "a novel for humans"). I really liked how changing the storyteller to a dog allowed the author to make some interesting commentary on our behavior as human beings.
This was the second book I've read that was "written" by a dog (the first one was The Art of Racing in the Rain. I liked this book just as much. The interesting twist of this book was how the same dog "soul" was reincarnated from "life" to "life" and learned lessons along the way that allowed it to play a pivotal role in saving people's lives and bringing people to love. That was awesome. It was also fun to play "detective" as it took a bit of thinking to figure out what was "happening" from the human perspective since the only clues given in the book are what the dog could sense and understand.
You clearly have to be a dog lover to want to read a book all about a dog's life, but I encourage those who want to consider their dogs from a new perspective (and gain more appreciation for them) to check this book out.
My full notes are below.
Common experiences of dog owners
The other day I saw a man walking his dog down the street very early in the morning. He was wearing a bathrobe and literally was walking with his eyes closed. I realized that I knew exactly what he felt like, and I further guessed that there are many common experiences that dog owners share which are special and unique. Here are some of my favorites; please add your own!