“I fuss over George when he’s sick and I fuss over him when he’s well. I send him to a play group several days a week to give him intraspecies quality time. I will discuss the state of his bowels with anyone who cares to engage me on the subject. Just when my days of browsing endless rows of overpriced kid’s toys are over, I am browsing endless rows of overpriced doggie toys. And sometimes I buy them, particularly if they have a good squeak.
“Like many neophyte dog owners, I’ve gone a little nutty. For example, one of my great pleasures in life has always been people watching. I’ve spent innumerable hours walking happily around the city, scoping the passing parade. Now, when I walk down the street, my gaze rarely rises above knee-level. I’m looking at dogs, not people. Who knew there were so many around? Familiarity has not bred contempt. It’s bred affection, indulgence, and boundless curiosity….
“This book is the story of a journey into dog personhood. I would like to say it is a journey that has left me older but kinder, wiser, and with enhanced respect for all living creatures in the great chain of being. It’s certainly left me older and, if not wiser, at least more knowledgeable about this new society of which I’ve become a part.”
– from Dog World
hilarious excursion through the studied, obsessive, colorful, demanding, occasionally lunatic world of contemporary dog ownership.
In the fall of 2001, Alfred Gingold found himself succumbing to the undeniably endearing behavior of his family's new Norfolk Terrier, George, and becoming a member of what he calls Dog Nation: the 43 million dog owners and their 55 million dogs living in America today. In a matter of weeks, Gingold had become a firsthand ethnographer of the passions (read: idiosyncrasies) that define dog owners everywhere. It was literally a case of puppy love.
The result of Gingold's shrewd observation is Dog World, which is structured around the loose chronology of dog ownership: choosing and finding a dog; feeding, walking, and cleaning up after a dog; the literal and emotional obstacle course that is training a dog; and on to the larger cultural realms of dog racing and, of course, dog kitsch and memorabilia. But the real delight of Dog World is in Alfred Gingold's narrative excursions through the canine universe, whereby he reports (and occasionally pontificates) on topics such as the untold history of dogwalking, how dog food came to be, the urban art of scooping poop, and an analysis of the relationships great historical figures have had with their dogs.
Like Bill Bryson or Calvin Trillin, Alfred Gingold brings a particularly wry and comic perspective to the world. And whether one is a dog lover or a dog agnostic, Dog World will be a tremendously entertaining journey into mankind's canine love affair.