A Dog’s History of the World

“A Dog’s History of the World: Canines and the Domestication of Humans,” by Laura Hobgood-Oster. Baylor University Press. $29.95.DogHistory_FrontCvr_3

Don’t expect to uncover anything new here but the author has amalgamated a terrific mix of content involving man’s best friend and history – its travels in the afterlife, war, genetics, changing priorities and the human-dog bond.

In the process, Hobgood-Oster captures the combustible feel of the species’ journey from 30,000 years ago to present day with a liquid smooth transition of well-polished anecdotes – including a couple with Seattle ties – in a solid cultural context.

Hobgood-Oster doesn’t hold back any punches, either, disdaining puppy mills, genetic flaws, the elevated risk of disease in some breeds and breed-specific legislation.

Brimming with history, her work reflects substantial research, with almost 40 pages devoted to Notes and Bibliography. Not tear-jerking, it reflects a tough realism in the powerful relationship of man and dog, ranging from the true grit on the war front to warm beds and sofas at home with a myriad of challenging scenarios in between.