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Download What's a Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man's Best Friend Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Whats a Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Mans Best Friend Audiobook, by John Homans Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (116 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Homans Narrator: Don Hagen Publisher: Recorded Books: Gildan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2012 ISBN: 9781469085746
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John Homans adopted his dog, Stella, from a shelter for all the usual reasons: fond memories of dogs from his past, a companion for his son, an excuse for long walks around the neighborhood. Soon enough, she is happily ensconced in the daily workings of his family. And not only that: Stella is treated like a family member—in ways that dogs of his youth were not. Spending humanlike sums on vet bills, questioning her diet and exercise regimens, contemplating her happiness—how had this all come to pass, when the dogs from Homans’s childhood seemed quite content living mostly out in the yard? In What’s a Dog For?, Homans explores the dog’s complex and prominent place in our world and how it came to be. Evolving from wild animals to working animals to nearly human members of our social fabric, dogs are now the subject of serious scientific studies concerning pet ownership, evolutionary theory, and even cognitive science. From new insights into what makes dogs so appealing to humans to the health benefits associated with owning a dog, Homans investigates why the human-canine relationship has evolved so rapidly—how dogs moved into our families, our homes, and sometimes even our beds in the span of a generation, becoming a $53 billion industry in the United States in the process. As dogs take their place as coddled family members and their numbers balloon to more than seventy-seven million in the United States alone, it’s no surprise that canine culture at large is also undergoing a massive transformation. They are now subject to many of the same questions of rights and ethics as people, and the politics of dogs are more tumultuous and public than ever— with fierce moral battles raging over kill shelters, puppy mills, and breed standards. Incorporating interviews and research from scientists, activists, breeders, and trainers, What’s a Dog For? investigates how dogs have reached this exalted status and why they hold such fascination for us. With one paw in the animal world and one paw in the human world, it turns out they have much to teach us about love, death, and morality—and ultimately, in their closeness and difference, about what it means to be human. Download and start listening now!


Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Simone | 2/9/2014

    " I feel like I'm starting to know my way around the dog/animal literature, and this was not one of my favorites, although he raised some interesting points, namely the discussion of pointing (dogs understand when humans point at something, which is a trait that other animals - especially wolves or chimps, don't share) and the way shelters in the blue states are commonly staffed by puppies from the red states. My recommendation for favorite dog book would be - Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly Wagner | 2/5/2014

    " This was a fun read, although the chapters about how many dogs are still euthanized every year and the cultural mores behind that, were a bit depressing. The changes in thought over the centuries about how smart dogs are, whether dogs have emotions, and so on, are fascinating, as is the comparison of different views of how dogs evolved from wolves to human's companions. (The latest thinking is that they domesticated themselves by hanging around human garbage heaps, which automatically selected for wolves that were less afraid of being near humans; dogs' actual usefulness as hunting aides, rodent catchers, and herding animals came much later.) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kimberlee | 1/17/2014

    " this is somewhere btw a 3 and 4 for me - explores the history of the dog-human relationship, esp the anthropomorphizing aspect. Some of the science sections felt a little dry @ times. But clearly, this writer is almost as obsessed w/ his dog as I am. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Virginia Bryant | 1/15/2014

    " i am officially a dog person. having one stay with me is not enough, now i must read about them too! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Andrea | 1/11/2014

    " It's very basic writing; I expected a bit more than something to skim through. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Fence | 12/12/2013

    " Nothing I hadn't heard before unfortunately "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ariadna73 | 11/1/2013

    " I found this book more philosophical than I expected. There are a lot of reflections on how the dogs might think and why do they exist and how they give ulterior meaning to our lives. I liked the book but found it a little heavier than expected. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Abigail Padgett | 6/30/2013

    " Thorough, well researched and readable, but a little short on analyses of what's behind the recent shift in human awareness of dogs. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicole | 6/17/2013

    " Interesting...who knew people do actually study dogs? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 6/12/2013

    " Great book for dog lovers and dog enthusiasts alike. It had some good information in it but was a little dry and would probably be a tad boring to the average dog owner. However I would recommend it to anyone who likes to read about dogs and learn more about man's best friends. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pamela Kramer | 6/12/2013

    " Read the review at: What's a Dog For? "

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About the Narrator

Don Hagen has been behind the microphone since fifth grade. He is a nine-time winner of the Peer Award for narration/voice-over and twice winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award. He has also been heard in radio and television commercials and documentaries. In addition to his freelance voice work, he is a member of the audiobook narration team at the Library of Congress.