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The Social Lives of Dogs


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About the Author

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is also the author of The Harmless People, Warrior Herdsmen, and the novels Certain Poor Shepherds, Reindeer Moon, and The Animal Wife.


As she proved in her bestselling The Hidden Life of Dogs, no one writes with greater emotional intelligence about man's (and woman's) best friend than Thomas. Like that marvelous book, this worthy sequel reports on the canines in the author's life, beginning with Sundog, a large white dog Thomas found abandoned in Cambridge, Mass. Upon moving into Thomas's New Hampshire home (which also embraces cats, parrots and several humans, including the author's husband and aged mother), Sundog was ostracized by the three dogs already there and so bonded with Thomas and her husband, as "the first member of our household to cross species lines." As time and pages go by, Sundog is joined by Misty, a purebred sheepdog raised by an earlier owner under horribly rigid conditions; Pearl, an Australian shepherd-chow; Ruby, a maladjusted mix who leaks urine; and Sheila, who's probably part dingo. In narrative as dramatic as good fiction, but rooted in careful observation of animal ways, Thomas recounts how household members adjusted to one another, forming various groups and jockeying for position within and among groups; one extraordinarily gripping section details how Sheila, who as the household's newest member should have occupied the lowest position among the dogs, worked her way up the canine ladder through aggression and guile until Pearl came up with a diplomatic "solution" to her challenge. As enchanting as Thomas's stories are, the most potent magic in her charismatic, opinionated book comes from her ability to lead readers into a fresh world, one that allows animals their own minds (where, for instance, a dog might try "her best to charm us with her pleasant ways"). Anyone who cares about animals will relish joining Thomas in that rich and happy place. Illus. by Jared Taylor Williams. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Los Angeles Times She makes the naysayers...seem a vanishing breed....The world opens up before her with no end to interspecies communication, which is her gift.
The Boston Herald It is reassuring to have our observations articulated by one who inhabits the minds of animals as convincingly as does Elizabeth Marshall Thomas.
The Denver Post A lovingly detailed chronicle of canines.
The New York Times A continuation of the author's 1993 bestseller, The Hidden Life of Dogs, by an anthropologist who leaps over parochial limits to the proper study of mankind.
Caroline Knapp Author of Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs Masterly at description, equipped with a deep regard for the essential dogness of dogs, and attuned to the tiny things....An affecting read.
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson Author of the Emperor's Embrace, Dogs Never Lie About Love, and When Elephants Weep Nobody inhabits the minds of domestic animals the way Elizabeth Marshall Thomas does. The Social Lives of Dogs is a beautiful sequel to her great tribute to the animal world, The Hidden Life of Dogs. It is just wonderful, brimming with new insights. And it carries her compelling argument in favor of the complexity of the minds of these creatures one step further, convincing me -- and, I am sure, everyone who reads her book with an open heart -- that the animals in our homes are more like family than pets.

Anthropologist and novelist Thomas has written a sequel to her best-selling The Hidden Life of Dogs (LJ 4/15/93). Using her multispecies household (humans, dogs, cats, and birds) as an ethologist's field study, she observes the interactions of the occupants. She describes and explains how hierarchy and status are established, how new individuals are introduced to the group, how territory is delineated, and how individuals from each species are integrated into groups within the larger pack. In an engrossing style, Thomas describes events in the lives and deaths of the members of the domestic pack that illustrate the workings of the canine, feline, and avian minds. She draws upon her extensive knowledge of the behavior and treatment of feral dogs in East Africa to explain the domestication of the dog. Appendixes containing advice on controlling dogs' behavior and on keeping parrots as pets conclude this entertaining and informative book. Highly recommended for public libraries. (Illustrations not seen). [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/00.]DFlorence Scarinci, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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