The Truth About Dogs:
Add up all the benefits that dogs provide us and compare that sum with the costs, and it is not a rational bargain on our part. Dogs are extraordinarily beautiful animals; they are extraordinarily interesting animals too, and as a devoted student of animal behavior, if nothing else, I certainly find the rewards of living with dogs worth the cost. But I am also keenly aware that the conventional explanations of where dogs come from, how they ended up in our homes, and why they do what they do for us have to be all wrong.
In the past couple of years new scientific evidence has started to confirm just how weird the relationship between dogs and human beings is — and how different it is from what we tend to think it is. What truly defines the differences between breeds of dogs, what motivates dogs to be protective or helpful to us, what causes aggressive behavior by dogs toward human beings, why dogs started hanging around us in the first place — when it comes to dogs, almost nothing is what it seems.
This is from Stephen Budiansky’s great Atlantic Monthly essay on dogs and the people who love them. It’s a shorter version of his informative book, “The Truth about Dogs: An Inquiry into Ancestry, Social Conventions, Mental Habits, and Moral Fiber of Canis familiaris.”
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