"What's a Dog For?" by John Homans

Dec 5, 2012

John Homans remembers that his childhood dog ran freely without a leash, slept outside, and spent most of her time happily exploring the yard. She was a companion, but not exactly a member of the family. So when he adopted Stella, a Labrador mix, from a shelter as a birthday present for his son, the images from his youth were strongly imprinted in his mind.

Though neighbors on his New York City block lavished expensive clothing, doggie birthday cakes, and thousand-dollar medical treatments on their dogs, Homans was determined to draw a boundary.

But he soon found himself treating Stella like a person, trying to decipher her emotions and questioning her diet and exercise. In the new book, Homans gives us an intriguing look into the life of dogs. His new book is What's a Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man's Best Friend.