Monday, July 3, 2017

Dog Days: New in Non-Fiction

Reviewed by Brenda G.

Often I am a fiction reader, but here, I read two non-fiction works at once. Book number two explains why the first book’s miraculous escape, due to a man-dog partnership, was possible.

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, & the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero, by Michael Hingson with Suzy Flory. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. 2011. 232 pages. Includes bibliography and notes.

I enjoyed Thunder Dog and the learning it provided not only about the dramatic escape from the World Trade Center, but also about the powerful relationship between the author and his guide dog Roselle. Many other topics are woven into the retelling of the events of September 11, 2001, including Hingson’s life, education, career, and information about guide dog training. I felt admiration for Hingson and his dog. Under extraordinary circumstances, they managed an impressive escape from the Twin Towers. After exiting the building, they had to escape the dust cloud that accompanied the collapse of the buildings, and then manage to find a way to his New Jersey home. A co-worker was with Hingson part of the way, down the stairs, out the door, through the dust cloud, into shelter, and then Hingson moved on again. The co-worker did not guide Hingson; Roselle did that. The friend’s help and companionship were beneficial but Hingson and Roselle seemed to be a fairly self-sufficient unit. I did occasionally become a bit impatient with some details of earlier and later life, but this is a good read about an admirable escape that casts a different light upon the experiences of those fortunate enough to escape the World Trade Center on that fateful day.

The Dog in the Cave : the Wolves who Made Us Human, by Kay Frydenborg.  Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. 246 pages. Includes index and bibliography.

How many accolades can I give this book? How long have humans and dogs, first as gray wolves in Europe and Asia, the precursor of all dogs, a species now extinct, worked together for mutual benefit? Research is indicating a friendship encompassing some forty thousand years, much longer than scientists once believed. The facts and the research basis for those facts are clear and well-delineated in this work. Theories are described as such in an understandable way. The author describes research underway to determine the intelligence of dogs, probably greater than we ever believed, and the special bond that exists between humans and the dogs bonded to them. This bonding seems to involve the eyes of both – fascinating yet seemingly so observable.

This work is written for a young adult audience but is well-suited for adults. I recommend A Dog in the Cave to anyone interested in the topic, from the age of 12 to 99+. I am looking for other books on the topic and looking for another dog since Charley went to his heavenly reward last year.

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