The New York Times

Why So Many Books About Dogs?

AND WHAT DO THEY TELL US ABOUT OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CANINES — AND ABOUT OURSELVES?

“What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass?” the poet Mary Oliver asks in her book “Dog Songs.” “What would this world be like without dogs?”

A world without dogs is impossible to imagine. Our relationship with them predates the written word, agriculture and civilization. They were our hunting buddies, bed warmers and, sometimes, if not much else was around, our dinner. As dogs crept into our homes, surfing kitchen counters and sleeping on the sofa, our focus was practical: managing the animal with which 60 million American households share space. (That’s about 13 million more households than the number cohabitating with the next most popular pet — cats.) Until surprisingly recently, most dog books were assiduously pragmatic: how to choose them, train them and care for them.

This article originally appeared in .

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