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Dogs v. Humans
New York magazine looks at our complex relationship with dog
Check out "The Rise of Dog Identity Politics" in New York Magazine (Feb. 1 issue).

On the plane home from Burbank, Calif., on Sunday night, I read New York magazine’s cover story about dogs. (By the way, I’m always impressed by Los Angeles' serious dog scene. Even though we were traveling sans canines, we walked the very hilly loop at Runyon Canyon Dog Park. Great views of the city, locals and dogs (lots of matched pairs). If you really want to experience L.A., this has to be on the list. Anyway, as they say, I digress.)


I grabbed New York in the newsstand because of the provocative cover featuring a tentative looking Boston Terrier with the cover line, “A Dog Is Not A Human Being, Right?” I’m always interested when the non-dog press decides to tackle a comprehensive Dog Story—and this looked like a meaty bone for the ride home. It was, in fact, a well-written survey of our complicated modern relationships with dogs—the sort of sophisticated reporting you expect from New York—covering—albeit too quickly—the high and low points of our attitudes about everything from diet and training techniques to breeding and rescue. I appreciated that dog-owning author John Homans dipped his toe in the shark-infested waters of dog politics—after all, as we see demonstrated on this here blog, we certainly don’t all agree on what constitutes a dog’s basic rights—and that conversation can get a little heated.


While the story is too short and too ambitious to dig very deep into anyone area, it’s a decent primer about the state of things and raises interesting questions—like are we allowing dogs to take the place of people in our lives? What does it say about us that dogs treated are often treated better than people? Where is the dog headed as we continue down the road of “anthropomorphic selection”?

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com
CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Jane | February 3 2010 |

Thanks for pointing out the article; I will read it later this week. I appreciate your efforts in presenting lots of different topics for dog lovers to learn about and discuss. Thanks.

Submitted by SmartDogs | February 10 2010 |

John Homans interviewed me a couple of times for the story. The second time we spoke he admitted that he had come up with "a book's worth" of material for the article. I think he expected "dog politics" to be a simpler subject that it turned out to be.

I suspect that more articles will come out of his research.

Janeen McMurtrie aka SmartDogs

Submitted by Kathrine Konetz... | February 13 2010 |

I have read the above mentioned article, as well as the flood of comments it generated when the Times linked to it, with the expected emotional responses. Certainly all relationships can be complicated, whether between humans or between humans and other species, and there will always be those who tend to color outside the lines of what is considered "normal" by the rest of society. I don't know if I agree with everything the author postulates, but I do agree that if we treat our canine companions as furry humans, we do so at some peril to the dog. Dogs are not human, and therein lies the joy in sharing your life with one (or several). If we allow dogs to lose their essential "dog-ness", the dogs will not suffer alone--we will be much poorer for it as well.

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