Sunday, April 11, 2010

Book Review ~ Coren's The Modern Dog

Stanley Coren's The Modern Dog is my twelfth read in John Mutford's Great Canadian Book Challenge. I have been a Stanley Coren fan for years - I remember watching his Good Dog! program on Canada' Slice TV network when Gabe was just a puppy. The program was on then at 7:30am on Saturdays, so Gabe and I (and sometimes my mom) would greet the day by watching Dr. Coren and playing fetch in the living room. (Gabe is still an early bird; Arch could sleep till noon, though, if I didn't drag him out from under the covers.)

I think I started with Coren's How Dogs Think and sort of went from there, reading most of his dog books. Coren is an engaging writer; a great researcher; and he clearly knows what he's talking about. One thing I'm not crazy about is how he reuses material from book to book. This is understandable - I mean if you're going to spend a chapter talking about the history of dogs in three or four different books, there's only so much you can say. Still, I was somewhat hesitant to shell out my $19.99 at McNally Robinson's for another look at the same topics. What sucked me in was the chapter on the fate of dogs (and pets in general) during Hurricane Katrina, something that interests me greatly. I'm really glad I decided to use my gift card on this one (thanks Marissa, Dan, and Mary!).

The Modern Dog is easily Coren's most accessible book. Coren is a psychologist, a professor emeritus at UBC. This academic background shows in his writing, which doesn't shy away from explaining things in depth. Sometimes it can be a little dry. Not so in The Modern Dog. This whole book shines. Each chapter is short and engaging and I believe most people who like dogs would find this an enjoyable read. In the preface, Coren encourages us to read the chapters in any order we wish, as each is meant to stand alone. The chapters cover everything from why people look like their dogs, to dogs who watch tv, to dogs who fly is space, and finally, to whether dogs go to heaven.

Highly recommended by all of us here at Gabe n Arch, the boys give this one 8 paws up! This would be a great gift for the dog lover in your life.