Written by a lawyer who specializes in regulations and policies regarding animal health and welfare, this book is about how pets have become so overwhelmingly popular and pampered over the last few decades. While most of the focus is on dogs and cats, one of the final chapters also highlights birds, reptiles, fish, small mammals and other exotics. It’s got a lot of history and in-depth looks at current trends too. There is a little overlap with the last book on domestic dogs that I read, interestingly. Telling how important dogs were to primitive man, native peoples and early settlers- doing important tasks on farms and in fields. When such jobs for canines became more or less obsolete, they were relegated to backyards or left roaming the streets. Only relatively recently have they become members of the household- receiving special food and sleeping on people’s beds, with their antics and cuteness displayed online. The look at their rising popularity was not particularly new to me, although the numbers are telling. Of more interest was the chapter about how veterinary care has changed, and the one about what seems to be a shortage of dogs in shelters for adoption- this author argues that the spay and neuter campaign of past decades was actually too successful, so that now shelters import dogs from other places that have surplus! He also states that commercial breeders have an unfairly bad reputation, puppy mills are not the norm, and if breeders were regulated and felt comfortable to open their doors and show the public their operations, that could quickly turn around. There’s also a lot touting the benefits of pets in these pages- so much so, that it becomes clear that the goal of the book is to encourage more people to keep more animals, urging us to reach a hundred percent of homes owning dogs or cats, which should be allowed to accompany us anywhere in public. I could not really tell if this was tongue-in-cheek or not.
The book is certainly well-researched with lots of data supporting the author’s views. So why the low rating? Sorry, but I really found it hard to read. The writing style and humor just did not work for me. (I know cleaning the litter box can be unpleasant, but I don’t think of it as torture). There was just so much in this book, presented in brief to-the-point chunks with bold headings that made it feel jumpy. The frequent use of lists, bullet points and pop culture references (some I got, some I didn’t) did not appeal to me. I felt that some things were explained unnecessarily, but then stumbled over acronyms that I had to look up. More than once I was left scratching my head over a conclusion, or having to read a phrase a few times over, because it didn’t click. Overall, I think I just wasn’t the right kind of reader for this book.
Seems this is an updated issue, just a year after the initial publication. To include new snippets of data on how covid affected pet ownership, I suppose. Personally I think the original cover was more appealing, but the current one visually matches the style of the book, so I’m showing that. The subtitle has also changed. Originally it was The Love Affair That Changed America. Now it says on the front The Inside Story of How Companion Animals Are Transforming Our HOMES, CULTURE and ECONOMY. (Yes, with bold caps).
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
“urging us to reach a hundred percent of homes owning dogs or cats, which should be allowed to accompany us anywhere in public.”
Either that’s humor or he missed a big issue with that: If people are taking their dogs everywhere, other people won’t be able to bring their cats. Even if every single dog on the planet were well trained (ha), cats would still get scared just being around the dogs. Other smaller pets, too.
Well, to clarify when he talked about pets accompanying people I think he had dogs in mind. Although he did mention snakes in public a few times maybe. I’ve known of a few cats that actually liked riding in cars or going about on their owner’s shoulder (from very young kitten age) but it’s definitely not the norm!
Ahahahaha oh dear, I do not want to reach a hundred percent of homes owning dogs and cats! Some persons are allergic!
I know! He did address that- saying that all apartment buildings should allow pets, but have a designated section that would be pet-free for example. So instead of the old ‘non-smoking’ sections on planes and restaurants, now there’d be ‘no-pet’ areas with most of the space catering to those with animal companions? It didn’t make sense to me, honestly.
The author sounds a little like an extremist from what you say. I’m most definitely an animal lover, but I can’t even imagine a world in which people are allowed to take their pets everywhere they go. I agree with you that the style you describe here is not one that leads itself to a pleasant reading experience…sounds too much like a high school text book.
To me it felt more like it was aimed at people who are used to reading small, condensed text info blocks- I imagined avid users of social media. To me it was jumpy and tedious. My mind wandered all over the place! I guess I like my writing to feel more conversational or thoughtful. Or detailed, even.