Can dogs teach us how to save the planet? Perhaps, according to Masson (When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals), who claims that children who understand that we must share our planet with other creatures have had an early dose of canine devotion. This claim probably would be more convincing if Masson's preceding chapters were less blandly argued. Masson maps the canine heart in anecdotes, lore and scientific data, examining doggy manifestations of emotions such as love, loyalty, loneliness, compassion and aggression. He writes that he acquired three dogs specifically to aid him in his research, and he dutifully records an uneventful series of woodland walks and backyard romps. Although he asks good questions (Do dogs dream? Can they feel gratitude?), his answers are rarely illuminating, and some of the most provocative material (such as a study indicating that dogs ""know"" their masters are on their way home from work up to an hour before their arrival) is given only a tantalizing gloss. Throughout, Masson's enthusiasm for dogs is infectious, but he contrasts humans unfavorably with dogs, deploring our failure to live in the present, our destructiveness toward the environment, our ambivalence and our aggression. This misanthropy might seem justified if he were able to better elucidate canine psychology, but in the end he can concede only that ""Dogskeep their deepest mysteries to themselves."" Line drawings. Major ad/ promo; simultaneous Random House audio; author tour. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/1997 Release date: 08/01/1997 Genre: Nonfiction
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