This book is about the dogs that were kept by Native American tribes. The author estimates that among all the tribes, there were at least seventeen distinctly recognizable breeds or types. Some were widespread, others very unique to a small area or only one tribe. Most of them are now gone- they disappeared when their owners were exterminated, or were killed by conquering peoples who saw them as useless. Remaining extant are Malamutes, Eskimo dogs, and the Xoloitzcuintle (although the author thought this one had disappeared as well). The first third of the book is rather dry reading (at least for me) it’s on archaeological evidence of early dogs, and how very very far back they were already being bred to type. (I’m not sure how much the info presented in that section has changed with newer findings). The rest of the book is much more readable- detailing what was known of the natives’ dogs through early written accounts, paintings, and a few photographs. Most of the dogs’ roles in Native American societies were what you might expect- as hunting partners, to protect and give warnings, or to carry and haul burdens (especially before they had horses). In some tribes they were regularly used as food, in others this was only in times of starvation as a last resort. What was new to me: they were often a valuable source of warmth in cold climates- dogs have an average body temperature higher than humans, so sleeping with them kept people warm. One tribe had a special breed of dog with a very thick coat they kept just to shear the fur, spin it and weave with other fibers to make cloth. Another tribe reportedly had dogs that were trained to dive into the water and herd fish into their owners’ nets. Although they were sometimes treated callously, more often the people treasured their dogs and valued them highly. This book was more interesting than I expected at first, and gave me a new picture of how dogs lived with people in early times.