Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dog History Days of Summer

Randall Stephens

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace. -Milan Kundera

The dog was created specially for children. He is the god of frolic. -Henry Ward Beecher

To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs. -Aldous Huxley

The more I see of man, the more I like dogs. -Mme. de Staël

Lately I've been on some history walking tours of Boston, accompanied by my dog, Beatrice. She's a border collie. Very smart.

Where to take a brainy dog in Boston? Recently I learned that dogs are welcome at the Boston Athenæum, "one of the oldest and most distinguished independent libraries and cultural institutions in the United States." That stately, some would say wicked stuffy, institution is trying to recruit younger members. (By young, I think they mean anything south of 70).

Young and old love dogs. I suppose the dog friendliness at the Athenæum dates back to the 19th-century Beacon Hill brahmin dog enthusiast, who wanted to bring his Borzoi to the library. Here's the official policy: "Members are allowed to bring a well behaved dog on a leash into the Athenæum. Pets are NOT permitted, however, in the Norma Jean Calderwood Galleries or the Recent Acquisitions Gallery at any time."

Kelly Baker lists some summer reading over at Religion in American History. Here are some good dog history and behavior books well worth checking out. Beach reading for the dog days of summer.

Marion Schwartz, A History of Dogs in the Early Americas (Yale, 1997).

Stanley Coren, The Pawprints of History: Dogs and the Course of Human Events (Free Press, 2003).

Michael G. Lemish, War Dogs: A History of Loyalty and Heroism (Potomac Books, 1999).

Bruce Thomas Boehrer, Animal Characters: Nonhuman Beings in Early Modern Literature (UPenn, 2010).

Katharine M. Rogers, First Friend: A History of Dogs and Humans (St. Martin's, 2005).

Katherine C. Grier, Pets in America: A History (North Carolina, 2006).

Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior (Simon and Schuster, 2005).

Virginia DeJohn Anderson, Creatures of Empire: How Domestic Animals Transformed Early America (Oxford, 2006).

Douglas J. Brewer, et al., Dogs in Antiquity: Anubis to Cerbrus the Origins of the Domestic Dog (Aris & Phillips, 2002).


Anonymous said...

Squirrel, Beatrice!

Anonymous said...

Nice article on dogs.

Dog as Deity, Ancestor and Royal Animal