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”?