A Dog-Centric America? A Great Book Review

by Mary Haight on April 11, 2009

Did you the see the story about the divorced couple fighting, for the last five years, over custody of the frozen future puppies of their dogs? At $2000 per puppy, that could add up to lots of dollars, but 5 years?  The judge said “Am I being Punk’d?” when she first saw it on her schedule.  She ended up kicking it out of her courtroom, suggesting they pursue the case in civil court. You can read more over at the Detroit Free Press if you missed it, but this story stuck in my head as I was checking out headlines on animal reporting.  You shake your head at some headlines, and laugh at others.tashipuppyonsettee1

I was thinking about all the recent stories on dog yoga, doggy Passover Seder, animal law issues, dog park fights in San Francisco, no-kill city status upsets, and by last report the $41 billion dollars spent on pet-related items (according to the American Association of Pet Products), many of which stories I reported, when I came across a great book review by Jonathan Yardley over at the Washington Post: “One Nation Under Dog” by Michael Shaffer. Yardley’s review walks us through Shaffer’s book and the shift in the culture of  the dog’s place in society. The highlighted changes read like the headlines in my feedreader.

The review of recent history and the changing status of dogs takes us from a time when living outside the house and largely being a distraction for the children in the family(and perhaps a means to teach responsibility)was the norm, to what is now the newly conferred status as “a fur baby.”   It’s a reminder that we might be well-served by an occasional review of our lives, our work, and our place in the world so we don’t miss what would be obvious to an outside observer.  I can’t say I agree with Shaffer’s conclusion, but see what you think.  Read on.

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