Sunday, September 13, 2009
Schine, Cathleen. "Grrr, Sniff, Arf." NEW YORK TIMES September 13, 2009.
Horowitz, Alexandra. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. New York: Scribner, 2009. The literature about dogs is not quite the same as the literature about, say, Norwegian rats. Dogs get the literary respect: there are brilliant memoirs about dogs like J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip and Elizabeth von Arnim’s All the Dogs of My Life; there’s James Thurber and Virginia Woolf and Jack London; there’s Lassie and Clifford and, of course, Marley. White rats, on the other hand, get most of the scientific attention. Alexandra Horowitz’s Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know attempts to rectify that situation, exploring what science tells us about dogs without relegating our pets, emotionally, to lab rats. As a psychologist with a Ph.D. in cognitive science, as well as an ardent dogophile, Horowitz aims “to take an informed imaginative leap inside of a dog — to see what it is like to be a dog; what the world is like from a dog’s point of view.” Her work draws on that of an early-20th-century German biologist, Jakob von Uexküll, who proposed that “anyone who wants to understand the life of an animal must begin by considering what he called their umvelt . . . : their subjective or ‘self-world.’ ” Hard as we may try, a dog’s-eye view is not immediately accessible to us, however, for we reside within our own umwelt, our own self-world bubble, which clouds our vision. Consider one of Horowitz’s examples: a rose. . . . Read the whole review here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/books/review/Schine-t.html?_r=1.