I was contacted by the editor of the Journal of Law and Social Deviance and asked if I would like to receive a copy to do a book review of Laws, Policies, Attitudes and Processes That Shape the Lives of Puppies in America by Carmen M. Cusack. I love to read and it was about dogs, so I accepted the offer.
It’s not my normal reading material. It’s quite the scientific tome. I’m interested in sociology and how we fit dogs into our lives, so it wasn’t a hard read for me.
I learned some things I wish I could unlearn, however.
While dogs are afforded a fair amount of legal protection and compassion here in the United States, that is not true in other parts of the world. In the U.S., dogs hold an important status in our society. In China, however, dogs are raised not only for their fur (yes, people actually wear dog fur coats), but also for meat. Their lives as fur dogs are not pleasant, neither is their manner of death. Because it pained me to learn the details, I’ll spare those here so you can avoid the same fate I wish I could.
There was quite a bit of psychology mixed in with the sociology in the book.
For instance, the book asserts that there are several theories of crime that explain why criminals who steal puppies may also be involved in other cures such as dealing drugs. The book goes on to suggest that police, while not necessarily interested in investigating puppy theft on it’s own merits, are quick to take on a puppy theft case because it gives them a pretext for gathering evidence of other crimes.
I found it odd that the author referred to canines as both dogs and puppies interchangeably.
As a professional dog trainer, puppyhood is a specific developmental stage. After about 16 weeks (roughly), a puppy is more of an adolescent than a puppy (both developmentally and in size [breed dependent, of course]). A 6-month old dog is definitely not a puppy, but the book uses the terms interchangeably, which I found a bit off-putting, as I think a scientific publication should recognize the developmental stages of canines.
The book covers many topics involving dogs that range from cultural, to legal, to the education of dogs.
Some of the chapter titles include: Art, Transportation, Wild & Exotic Animals, Killing, Puppy Fur, Property, Fear & Neurosis (which includes my favorite piece — puppy training), Drugs, Babies & Puppies, Food, Technology, and Civilization & Society.
Overall, the book is a fascinating read.
It’s a book that you can open and begin reading anywhere . I skipped immediately to the Fear & Neurosis chapter first, of course, as that’s the chapter that contained the training section, but I found something interesting in almost every chapter.
There’s something for everyone in this book.
While not an engaging novel, or “here’s how dog’s think” book (both of which I love), it was nonetheless an interesting read. The book includes a robust bibliography for any science-lovers who wish to delve more deeply into any of the topics presented in the book.