DOG WORLD: And the Humans Who Live There

Alfred Gingold, Author . Broadway $24 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7679-1661-5

While a few canine appreciation books are eloquent enough (read: not sappy) to convert the uninitiated to the joys of doggie worship, most bark to the choir. But humor writer Gingold takes a different approach: a dog lover made rather than born, he's still puzzled by many aspects of the dog-owning subculture. "There's the widely held assumption that all dog people share the same threshold of disgustingness," he writes. "Many think nothing of gesticulating wildly with a hand that is holding a plastic bag of dogshit." While Gingold's Norfolk terrier, George, plays a prominent role in this amusing "chronology of dog ownership," the book reads more like an anthropological study of the bizarre behaviors of urban dog people, specifically those in and around Brooklyn's Prospect Park, "the seedbed of off-leash liberty." Gingold's relative newness to dog culture allows him a kind of wry objectivity; on picking up waste, for example, he notes that "expressing distaste during the act of retrieval is unsporting.... Your attitude should be one of mildly amused stoicism." When Gingold does succumb to the foolish behaviors that all pet owners invariably engage in at one time or another, he maintains an amused detachment. "Do dogs really offer 'unconditional love?' " he wonders. "I believe we should reserve judgment on that until dogs are able to fill their food bowls themselves." Agent, Jennifer Carlson. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 339 pages - 978-0-7862-7549-6
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 132 pages - 978-0-7679-2021-6
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