I’ve had three dogs in my adult life. All hold special places in my heart, but with Jackson, my German Short Haired Pointer mix from the humane society, I feel something different. I think I know more now, and I should. Afterall, I’ve spent more time, more money, more efforts to train him and more affection on him than I like to admit. As Michael Schaffer points out in his book, One Nation Under Dog, I am not alone.
Schaffer examines the emotions and economics of dog ownership in the U.S. The two factors are closely aligned but it’s clear Schaffer puts emotions in the driver’s seat, why else would we dog owners be part of a $43 billion industry that continues to grow, and in some ways, has evolved as somewhat bizarre?
In a conversational tone, Schaffer recounts the many ways humans and their pets (primarily dogs and cats to a lesser extent) cohabit. He shares his personal experience as a dog owner, provides anecdotes from other owners, and interviews professionals: vets, trainers, dog walkers, breeders. He addresses everything from food to pet accessories. His research also includes legal concerns, dog parties, and dealing with the loss of a pet. The details eventually begin to bog down. Fortunately, Schaffer’s point of view includes a sense of humor and irony.
One Nation Under Dog
Adventures in the New World of Prozac-Popping Puppies, Dog Park Politics, and Organic Pet Food
Henry Holt and Co., 2009
288 pages, including notes