Verdict: EMBRACING THE WILD IN YOUR DOG is a highly readable and informative volume that incorporates personal anecdote with researched study and artfully peppered quotes, helping dog owners to understand why their pets act the way they do, and how to best relate with them.
A thoughtful, first-person examination of how society has not made allowances for “the wild” in domesticated dogs, and how learning to appreciate this quality can help pet owners have healthier, more fulfilling relationships with their animals.
Artfully incorporating lines of poetry from Jack London, folk wisdom, and research from scientific studies to introduce chapters and bolster his own observations, Bailey creates a highly readable and elegantly structured text about the role of “wildness” in domesticated animals, and how this quality is often under-appreciated or simply incorrectly categorized in contemporary society. Bailey weaves between his days in the actual wild with experiences in more civilized settings, including college classrooms and professional pet boarding centers. While many chapters begin with a personal experience of his to illustrate a particular facet of his argument, his most powerful example is the grandmother who, after nursing her elderly husband to his death, bonded with a young puppy named Rex. She took enormous solace from Rex, but then one day Rex bit her grandson, which prompted her to decide to put the formerly beloved animal down. Bailey uses her emotional conflict as a framing device for the book to delve deeper into the psychology not only of animals, but also of basic human relationships and the ways we interact and form bonds with one another. The prose occasionally can dip into sentimentality as opposed to a clear-eyed survey of the facts it details, especially in the chapter featuring the author’s mentor and wildlife guide. The mentor takes on an almost deity-like quality, which distracts from the narrative flow. Bailey concludes the book with his grandmother’s story, exquisitely reinforcing and tying together the lessons learned in the other chapters with a satisfying emotional resonance.
EMBRACING THE WILD IN YOUR DOG is a highly readable and informative volume that incorporates personal anecdote with researched study and artfully peppered quotes, helping dog owners to understand why their pets act the way they do, and how to best relate with them.