Sunday, March 04, 2007

Choosing the right dog (originally posted December, 2006)

I always enjoy conversations with owners and staff of independent bookstores -- people who engage in such a labor of love are probably even more infatuated with books than I am! This weekend I discovered Neighbors, a very fine independent book and music store in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Neighbors is as fine a store as you might expect to find it a much more urban setting (yes, that's a recommendation).

It really does say something about the store that in the course of conversation, the under told me that she had in stock a copy of Why We Love the Dogs We Do, by Stanley Coren.

Now is a good time to mention that book, because during the holiday season, many people think of giving pets as gifts. I don't think that's a good idea -- a new pet deserves special attention that it is unlikely to receive in the whirl of holiday excitement, especially if it has been given to a young child. This opinion is only strengthened by a sad memory from when I was in Athens at the time of the Greek Orthodox Easter many years ago. The trash cans in a public park were full of discarded baby chicks that had been given to little children along with Easter eggs.

A better gift for adults (including parents) who are thinking about getting a dog would be Coren's book. Why We Love the Dogs We Do is written with the express purpose of making sure that people will get dogs that will be a good match for their families; every year, thousands of new pets for turned out not to be a good match are placed in animal shelters, and Coren believes this is a preventable tragedy.

A professor at a University of British Columbia, who specializes in psychological testing, Coren worked with dog breeders and trainers to classify numerous breeds according to personality type. Then he used interviews and an abbreviated standard personality test to determine the best matches between dog breeds in people with specific personalities.

The book is a delightful read, filled with entertaining descriptions of canine personalities, and interesting anecdotes about people and their dogs. At the end, you can take a test which will help you decide which kind of dog is best for you. Within each canine personality type (such as "clever", and "affectionate",) are several breeds, and Coren gives useful advice on how to choose within the group best suited to you. His advice is also useful for gift giving: for example, if you answer the test according to what you think another person might answer, you would then choose a breed that , say, an apartment dweller would be able to take care of.

It also has a chapter comparing dog lovers and cat lovers. I just wish there were a chapter on how to choose a mutt.


Blogger Barron said...

It is extremely important in taking the time in selection of a dog for your home. Temperment and venue have to be taken into careful consideration.

12:15 AM  

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