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One Nation Under Dog: Adventures in the New World of Prozac-Popping Puppies, Dog-Park Politics, and Organic Pet Food

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A witty, insightful, and affectionate examination of how and why we spend billions on our pets, and what this tells us about ourselves. In 2003, Michael Schaffer and his wife drove to a rural shelter and adopted an emaciated, dreadlocked Saint Bernard who they named Murphy. They vowed that they'd never become the kind of people who send dogs named Baxter and Sonoma out to g A witty, insightful, and affectionate examination of how and why we spend billions on our pets, and what this tells us about ourselves. In 2003, Michael Schaffer and his wife drove to a rural shelter and adopted an emaciated, dreadlocked Saint Bernard who they named Murphy. They vowed that they'd never become the kind of people who send dogs named Baxter and Sonoma out to get facials, or shell out for $12,000 hip replacements. But then they started to get weird looks from the in-laws: You hired a trainer? Your vet prescribed antidepressants? So Schaffer started poking around and before long happened on an astonishing statistic: the pet industry, estimated at $43 billion this year, was just $17 billion barely a decade earlier. One Nation Under Dog is about America's pet obsession the explosion, over the past generation, of an industry full of pet masseuses, professional dog-walkers, organic kibble, leash-law militants, luxury pet spas, veterinary grief counselors, upscale dog shampoos, and the like: a booming economy that is evidence of tremendous and rapid change in the status of America's pets. Schaffer provides a surprising and lively portrait of our country as how we treat our pets reflects evolving ideas about domesticity, consumerism, politics, and family through this fabulously reported and sympathetic look at both us and our dog.


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A witty, insightful, and affectionate examination of how and why we spend billions on our pets, and what this tells us about ourselves. In 2003, Michael Schaffer and his wife drove to a rural shelter and adopted an emaciated, dreadlocked Saint Bernard who they named Murphy. They vowed that they'd never become the kind of people who send dogs named Baxter and Sonoma out to g A witty, insightful, and affectionate examination of how and why we spend billions on our pets, and what this tells us about ourselves. In 2003, Michael Schaffer and his wife drove to a rural shelter and adopted an emaciated, dreadlocked Saint Bernard who they named Murphy. They vowed that they'd never become the kind of people who send dogs named Baxter and Sonoma out to get facials, or shell out for $12,000 hip replacements. But then they started to get weird looks from the in-laws: You hired a trainer? Your vet prescribed antidepressants? So Schaffer started poking around and before long happened on an astonishing statistic: the pet industry, estimated at $43 billion this year, was just $17 billion barely a decade earlier. One Nation Under Dog is about America's pet obsession the explosion, over the past generation, of an industry full of pet masseuses, professional dog-walkers, organic kibble, leash-law militants, luxury pet spas, veterinary grief counselors, upscale dog shampoos, and the like: a booming economy that is evidence of tremendous and rapid change in the status of America's pets. Schaffer provides a surprising and lively portrait of our country as how we treat our pets reflects evolving ideas about domesticity, consumerism, politics, and family through this fabulously reported and sympathetic look at both us and our dog.

30 review for One Nation Under Dog: Adventures in the New World of Prozac-Popping Puppies, Dog-Park Politics, and Organic Pet Food

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    I liked this book, the writing was clear and engaging. What brings my rating down from a 4 to a 3, however, is my issue with the chapter on puppy mills versus breeders. He paints a very black and white comparison between the two, but it is not. There is a much greater shade of grey when it comes to the "responsible" breeders that is completely ignored in this chapter. While I'm sure many "responsible" breeders care about their dogs as profiled in the chapter, the lack of genetic diversity and he I liked this book, the writing was clear and engaging. What brings my rating down from a 4 to a 3, however, is my issue with the chapter on puppy mills versus breeders. He paints a very black and white comparison between the two, but it is not. There is a much greater shade of grey when it comes to the "responsible" breeders that is completely ignored in this chapter. While I'm sure many "responsible" breeders care about their dogs as profiled in the chapter, the lack of genetic diversity and health-related issues that plague purebred dogs is due to the breeding for specific traits to satisfy the (made-up) standards of dog breed organizations such as the AKC. This causes all sorts of suffering for dogs. For example, French bulldogs can not give birth naturally (they have to get C-sections because the exaggerated shoulders of the puppies won't allow passage through the birth canal); the exaggerated sloping of the backs of German Shepherds causes hip dysplasia among other maladies; the shortened snout of Pugs causes respiratory problems; etc., etc., etc. Obviously, this topic could be the subject for an entire book, but by not even acknowledging the issue, I think the author has not done enough of his homework. In addition, the part about shelter dogs being transported around the country from areas of high euthanasia rates to places where spay/neuter has been effective is true - I've driven dogs north myself. However, he doesn't acknowledge the fact that while rescued PUPPIES are in short supply in some areas, adoptable DOGS are not. It's true everywhere that people get cute puppies, seriously underestimating how much exercise a young dog will need while overestimating how much time and energy they are going to spend to train and exercise a dog. Therefore, even in the northeast there is no shortage of adoptable dogs, especially the ones who are 10 months to 1 1/2 years old that are dumped at shelters when the puppy cuteness wears off.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Not necessarily a page turner. I saw this in the library and as a person who just adopted a puppy, I wanted to see what this "new world" was all about. The last time there was a puppy in my house, I was 9 years old and was definitely NOT a financial contributor to my house. I also didn't buy anything for my dog, who was incredibly content with her hot pink squeaky newspaper toy (one that did not contain treats or bounce around all crazy like or help her anxiety or anything "new world" like that.) N Not necessarily a page turner. I saw this in the library and as a person who just adopted a puppy, I wanted to see what this "new world" was all about. The last time there was a puppy in my house, I was 9 years old and was definitely NOT a financial contributor to my house. I also didn't buy anything for my dog, who was incredibly content with her hot pink squeaky newspaper toy (one that did not contain treats or bounce around all crazy like or help her anxiety or anything "new world" like that.) Now I adopted a puppy at the age of 24, and now I am a major financial contributor to my household. We bought the pup a rope, a cow ear and a rawhide bone (he is teething.) His favorite toys? A strip of fleece that we tied knots in and a raccoon puppet that I had when I was younger and found when I moved out of my parents' house. Both of these toys were free hand-me-downs... and our pup could care less. I thought the book was interesting, but the whole topic is pretty ridiculous. Maybe it is just beyond my comprehension how people spend their money on their pets. My dog will never get a massage - he would have WAY more fun at the dog park (which is free). My dog really likes fancier treats (cow tracheas, lamb lungs, salmon roll-ups), but he doesn't get them very often. I buy a better brand of food because it ends up being cheaper in the long run. My dog still gets his baths outside. We decided to get a dog because we love dogs. One of the reasons I was so excited to get a dog was because I enjoy taking dogs on walks and there is no way I would pay someone to do this for me. This book is just another example on how people are out of their minds when they spend their money. "There might be a financial crisis worse than the Great Depression, but dammit, I need to hire someone to walk my dog around the block and pay my gym membership. Me? Walk my own dog? You have got to be nuts!"

  3. 4 out of 5

    manatee

    I learned that there are many puppy mills in Amish country. Who knew? While I found some of the facts interesting, I did not really learn anything new. I was intrigued by the author's description of Wag's Blueberry Facial More pages should have been devoted to the paradox of dog treatment in our society. Why are there so many strays, or miserable chained dogs, while some dogs enjoy expensive therapy and blueberry facials? Before I got my beloved Butterbean, I was one of those people who said I wil I learned that there are many puppy mills in Amish country. Who knew? While I found some of the facts interesting, I did not really learn anything new. I was intrigued by the author's description of Wag's Blueberry Facial More pages should have been devoted to the paradox of dog treatment in our society. Why are there so many strays, or miserable chained dogs, while some dogs enjoy expensive therapy and blueberry facials? Before I got my beloved Butterbean, I was one of those people who said I will never spend that kind of money on my dog. Now, I have crossed over to the self-indulgent dark side and think that nothing is too good for Bean. I am thinking of commissioning a portait of Bean from one of my co-workers who is an artist. What does this say about my own life? I don't think dogs like things like Blueberry Facials and Pet Spas. If given a choice, they would much rather roll around in dung and filth. A roll on a filthy stable floor through a pile of rotting garbage would suit them just fine. That is a dog's idea of a spa.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peacegal

    What does it mean to be a dog owner in the new millennium? Author Michael Schaffer examines the brave new canine world in a book that is at turns humorous, scholarly, and thought-provoking. Schaffer has not set out to mock “pet parents”—the preferred new term—in fact, he has a “furbaby” of his own—a rescued St. Bernard named Murphy. While the author is not scheduling blueberry facials for his pooch at high-end urban spas—one of the many pet services he profiles—he does consider him a member of t What does it mean to be a dog owner in the new millennium? Author Michael Schaffer examines the brave new canine world in a book that is at turns humorous, scholarly, and thought-provoking. Schaffer has not set out to mock “pet parents”—the preferred new term—in fact, he has a “furbaby” of his own—a rescued St. Bernard named Murphy. While the author is not scheduling blueberry facials for his pooch at high-end urban spas—one of the many pet services he profiles—he does consider him a member of the family and enjoys spoiling him with trendy chew toys and other supplies to make Murphy’s life a comfortable one. It’s fun to take good care of one’s companion animal, the author explains, and we feel as if our pets deserve it return for their love. Supplying the family pet with top-of-the-line food, toys, sitting services, and medical care isn’t something we plan on doing; it just happens as we develop a relationship with our companion, the author explains. Soon, nothing is too good for our furbaby, just as many parents feel that their child deserves only the best. You adopt a puppy, and before you know it, you're test-driving SUVs and having boxes of free-range bull dicks delivered monthly. Schaffer starts his tour by looking at a rather bizarre argument that has reached its boiling point in California. The leashing of dogs has become a huge political fight in San Francisco. People who are justifiably concerned about aggressive dogs and dogs being hurt as well as wildlife being harassed and killed are attacked as haters and spoilsports by those who want to allow their dogs to run off-leash just about everywhere—going against sensible advice proffered by humane societies nationwide. The fact that this is even a debate, I think, confirms something about San Francisco’s stereotypes. I would ask these folks if they also allow their children to run wild in the streets—but I think we already know that answer. SF already has numerous dog parks where dogs are permitted to run-off leash in a safely confined area, similar to playgrounds for children. While dogs may be furbabies in some sectors of the economy, in others, they remain as rights-less property to manipulate as we see fit. Many dog owners strive to purchase what they see as the perfect purebred specimen. Others, including owners of mutts who will never make the show ring, enjoy AKC dog shows and breed contests such as the famous yearly Westminster. However, the dogs competing in the ring have more in common with racehorses than the Fido at our feet. Like racehorses, they are bred to win, the costs to their bodies and health often coming in a distant second. Like racehorses, Westminster dogs often have multiple owners invested in the animal’s success. Speaking of the much-ballyhooed Uno, a beagle who took the top prize at 2008’s Westminster, the author writes By most definitions, Uno is hardly a pet. Instead of being an animal kept with a family for its own wonderful sake, he’s a lucrative economic unit. Kudos to Schaffer for looking critically at an industry that is often given the fluff treatment by mainstream dog writers, and is mostly only criticized by the lesser-heard voices in animal advocacy. When you think about it, the enduring appeal of purebreds is a strange thing. Dog shows rose to popularity in the late nineteenth century, with all of the creepily eugenicist principles of an era obsessed with race and petrified of miscegenation. Fanciers obsessed about genetic purity and quality bloodlines, verifiable lineage and breed standards. Mongrels were most definitely not welcome… And they still aren’t. To its enduring discredit, the Westminster show ousted Pedigree dog food as a sponsor because their commercials—gasp!—had the gumption to show mixed-breed shelter dogs and encourage their adoption. To many shelter adoption advocates, if you’re looking for the bad guys of the canine world, look no further than the venerable organization that bills itself as “the dog’s champion.” Essentially, if legislation is meant to restrict in any way what dog owners can do with their “property”—chaining, leaving in cars, lifelong caging in a puppy mill—the AKC can be counted on to lead the charge against it. Schaffer doesn’t shy away from the places where so many of those “AKC papered” purebreds and trendy hybrids originate if they’re bought at a pet shop or ordered over the internet. The author looks at the grim world of puppy mills, mass breeding facilities that “help the retail market cater to that desire.” Even the elite shop Pets of Bel Air, which sold $2,400 puppies from baby cribs, sourced their dogs from squalid puppy mills in the South and Midwest. (Of course, if genetic manipulation the old-fashioned way isn’t right for you, you can always order one from Lifestyle Pets, which genetically engineers hypoallergenic cats and exotic/domestic hybrids that can cost more than a house.) While many people insist upon owning purebreds, not all consider the reasons these animals were originally created and how it affects their behavior as a result. The author uncritically quotes a SF judge on a pit bull named Jaws who gashed another dog’s flesh: “Something’s happened; something is triggering this behavior with your dog, so we’re going to have the behaviorists at the shelter look at him. She’s going to give a report, tell you what’s happened, are recommended some things for you so you don’t have these problems again.” (Would this judge also scratch his head and recommend a pet psychologist if a Labrador had jumped into a pond or a beagle chased a rabbit?) Elsewhere, we read about Norman, a pit bull adopted from a shelter in dogfighting-plagued Philadelphia; the shelter had advertised him as calm and agreeable, but in his new home, he couldn’t go on a walk without attempting to attack every dog in sight. The author documents the process by which a celebrity dog trainer “desensitizes” Norman with a stuffed model dog until he can pass the toy without attacking it. Is this really a success, or does Norman simply recognize the toy is not a proper sparring partner, and is waiting until he finds a canine who can engage properly? If you can’t accept that your dog of choice has been bred for hundreds of years to do a job and do it well—and in the case of pit bulls, that means battling other dogs to the death—you should not purchase or adopt that animal. No discussion about the role of dogs in society would be complete without a survey of the ways in which that society treats the rest of its animal citizens. Schaffer hits on this early on when he mentions a couture company that will custom-make real fur coats for dogs. Later on, we get more irony from Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell. In explaining his motivations to place some restrictions on puppy mill practices, Rendell explained: “A lot of the major kennel owners view puppies as products, just like pigs or chickens.” Are pigs and chickens living beings, or are they products? Much have been said from the animal rights side about the dog who barrels down the highway in his pet parents’ climate-controlled SUV while slaughter-bound pigs swelter in a semi in the opposite lane. A pig, as most of us know, is as an intelligent as a dog. I’m not going to harp on this subject because the point of this book is to examine the fact that dogs are raised above all other animals in the United States; by virtue of their species most of us don’t treat them as we do other animals. However, even if we elevate (pet) dogs above all other species, does that mean we must absolutely torture the non-chosen ones, as is what currently goes on in the nation’s food industry? Or, as the author points out: Even if comparing domestic veterinary medicine to overseas human health care is a case of comparing apples to oranges, it remains deeply troubling to know that the hospital that pioneered the life-extending surgical miracle of the feline kidney transplant is located in a city where more than twenty thousand unwanted animals are euthanized each year. And of course, even dogs don’t warrant much concern if they happen to be born into the wrong industry. Over 80,000 dogs, mostly beagles, are experimented upon in the United States alone each year. Around 1,300 experience unrelieved pain and distress as part of the experiments. While the campaigns on behalf of shelter dogs slated for euthanasia are well known and far outstrip those on behalf of cats, very few mainstream dog lovers have anything to say about dogs being irradiated or poisoned in chemical toxicity tests. Despite the multi-billion dollar marketing catering to pets, Americans should keep in mind this hasn’t changed the legal status of animals: your furbaby isn’t a legal person but rather a piece of property, much like a mailbox or a refrigerator. Occasionally, we hear of owners recovering emotional damages after their pet has been killed in a particularly heinous way; while media pundits like to make a big deal of such cases, such payouts remain extremely rare. Despite the headlines, defense lawyers still aren’t losing sleep over animal cases. Only five states now formally allow emotional-distress damages to be considered in pet-loss cases, but those states also cap damages at a low level…Elsewhere, most claims still get tossed out. Courts, even within the same state, are all over the map—embracing Max as a family member one day, relegating him to an economic unit the next. Schaffer neglects to look at what is perhaps the oddest and most troubling facet of the modern canine culture: the fetishization of, and intense campaigning on behalf of, provably dangerous dogs. This tiny subset of the dog movement seeks to spare all dogs from euthanasia, including those who have killed people and other dogs. The type of person who may have once written marriage proposals to convicted murderers with an “I can fix him” mentality, now use social media to crusade on behalf of individual dogs who seriously maul and kill. To peruse these Facebook pages and online petitions is to enter a world in which victims are blamed in jaw-dropping shows of insensitivity. When Schaffer visits a pet bereavement support group, he encounters a woman whose beloved companion had been mauled to death by another dog. Her pain is real, but in the world of dangerous dog fetishists, no dog matters but the one who did the killing. Since the vicious dog boosters remain relatively underground, negative comments dog guardians are likely to receive still are likely to focus upon our love of our pets and the money we are willing to spend to keep them healthy and happy. Simply put, non-pet parents just don’t understand. If you are a pet lover, chances are you can’t throw a Kong toy without hitting a colleague or family member who sneers “it’s just a dog” or that by treating your pet well, you are somehow putting down the entire human race. (Never mind that these kinds of people never do anything for the human race themselves besides take up space.) It is in response to these stupid and common arguments that Schaffer really shines: At the end of the day, the things I do for Murphy, the things you might do for your pet, are consumer choices. No one starts talking about third-world starvation when someone spends $3,000 on a flat-screen TV. Spend the same on a year’s worth of high-end organic pet food and you’re liable to get accused of taking food from the mouths of malnourished humans. … It’s not Murphy’s meds versus pharmaceuticals for needy Sri Lankans; it’s Murphy’s meds versus a new video camera for, um, me. If we’re going to start enumerating immoral consumer choices, I’d argue that spending money to care for a pet would rank near the bottom of the list. I believe I will keep hold of the author’s quotes on this subject for future debates with people who attack the general idea of caring for animals or having a sense of charity toward them. [P]eople donate to all sorts of causes. Some preserve art; others beautify roadways; others subsidize public television. If we weighed every act of generosity against a utilitarian standard of life and death, a great many worthy recipients—many of them far better funded than animal charities—would also have to be cut off.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    A fun, fact-filled book that was an easy read. I think Schaffer did a great job of covering all aspects of pet-hood from bringing the four-legged furbaby home to how we deal with our pets' deaths. It started off light and fun - talking about the veritable explosion in pet-related spending. You've heard of DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids), right? Well Schaffer introduces readers to DIPPs - Dual Income, Pampered Pets. He laughs at himself and his wife after they adopted Murphy, a Saint Bernard. It par A fun, fact-filled book that was an easy read. I think Schaffer did a great job of covering all aspects of pet-hood from bringing the four-legged furbaby home to how we deal with our pets' deaths. It started off light and fun - talking about the veritable explosion in pet-related spending. You've heard of DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids), right? Well Schaffer introduces readers to DIPPs - Dual Income, Pampered Pets. He laughs at himself and his wife after they adopted Murphy, a Saint Bernard. It paralleled what happened with me and my husband after we adopted our English bulldog, Bentley, from a rescue group. Armed with a small library of books on caring for a pet, animal behaviorism, and lengthy conversations with Bentley's soon-to-be vet who specializes in the care of English bulldogs, we drove 12 hours to pick him up. We swore we'd never be those pet parents - the ones who insist on taking their dog everywhere, treat them like a child, or make them the center of their entire world - you know the type. Despite all efforts to the contrary, we ended up as one of them. However, like Schaffer, at the time, none of our choices seemed especially strange. "At the time, each of them seemed mundane and obvious". Bentley needed to work on his socialization skills. Enter doggie daycare. Bentley is susceptible to food allergies. Enter dog food that costs upward of $2/lb. Bentley has severe crate and separation anxiety. Enter doggie Prozac. As Schaffer goes on to explain, though, if you have a pet in this day and age, you're likely one of us, too. Welcome to the club. Speaking food, I feel like I need to correct one thing Schaffer seemed to say over and over in the book – he touted Iams and Science Diet as premium or super-premium foods. This couldn’t be further from the truth; they’re both (over-priced) crap and really aren’t fit for consumption by any living thing. An example of super-premium foods would be California Naturals, Canidae, and Taste of the Wild to name a few. If it’s not a name you or the person sitting next to you recognizes, that’s usually a good sign. Go to www.dogfoodanalysis.com and just read. Then start feeding something that contains real ingredients. As was quoted in this book, “If you get a fifty-pound bag of kibble and it costs you ten dollars, what do you think is in it?” Another bonus of super-premium foods is that your dog will eat less (costing you less in the long run) and poop less. Always a good thing. I consider diet to be a preventative measure as well. Not only for myself and my husband, but for Bentley as well. There was an interesting chapter on how pets are treated and valued under our legal system. This was made especially relevant with the tainted pet food cases a few years back. Historically, owners have only been compensated for the replacement value of the pet, similar to how you’d be compensated if say, your couch was destroyed due to someone else’s negligence. Emotional distress has hardly been considered. However, things are changing as of late. This is a fascinating arena of thought – many people consider their pets to be close friends; the “man’s best friend” moniker has a basis, after all. However, if my human best friend were to be killed due to someone else’s negligence, I would have no right to sue, no matter my pain, suffering, or anguish. On the other hand, though, if you consider pets to be part of the family, then does the right exist as it would for a human family member? Defense attorneys for pet food companies (tainted food) or vets (malpractice) argue the former, obviously. However, can the pet industry get away with the same? After all, pet owners are forking out big money for chemo treatments, expensive food, and regular trips to the doggie spa because the pet industry is telling us – or at least catering to our thoughts that – our pets are more than just animals and deserve to be treated as any other family member. There were some heart-breaking chapters on puppy mills (which everyone who buys a pet should be required to read up on), the overpopulation problem, and kill-rates in shelters. Obviously not everyone can afford to buy their pet all the finest things life has to offer. Total pet spending is projected to be a around $43B. Seems like an astronomical amount, no? However, when you consider that there are 71 million households with pets, including 45 million with dogs and 38 million with cats. That works out to be a little over $600 a household. No dog book would be complete without touching on the issue of training and the two competing schools of thought: pack theory – made famous by Cesar Millan who advocates letting your dog know you’re the alpha dog, with physical force if necessary – and the school of positive reinforcement (which I subscribe to). Millan is a nut, in my opinion. As humans, our brains are bigger than dogs. Let’s use them instead of brute force. To wrap up, Schaffer closes with the wide-spread argument that superfluous spending pets is somehow taking away from other worth causes such as world hunger or helping the homeless. Newer adoption facilities are being built that are top-of-the-line; one was so nice (in SanFran, I believe) that it was picketed by homeless people. However, it’s not a zero-sum game. If someone decides to spend $1k a year on primo food rather than $3k a year, it’s not like the $2k that was saved will likely be sent to various charities; it’ll likely be spent on a flat screen TV or dinners out. Pet spending is an economic choice, like anything else. Those with a posh car or a predilection for pricey electronics don’t incur the wrath of those who spend such sums on their pets, so why the wrath? •In 2003, 47% of pet owners reported that their pets sleep in their bed with them at night. In 2006, only 13% of dogs and 8% of cats spent their nights outdoors. •In 1968 only 8% of vet students were female. The federal government threatened to cut funding under Title IX, which mandates sexually equality. By 1986, women made up 48% of vet students and by 2007, 79% of America’s 28 vet schools are comprised of women students. •Vet specialists have seen massive proliferation as of late, mirroring the trend that happened in human healthcare not so long ago. •The average, small-animal vet takes home about $79k a year. However, 2007 vet school grads have an average student loan debt of $107k. This debt figure has doubled (!!!) since 2000. •A study done at Tufts shows that most people deliberate for 8 months before relinquishing a pet. Schaffer discussed a program called Training Wheels that sends shelter volunteers out into communities to deal with problems people are having with their pets proactively – before they are dropped at shelters – rather than reactively.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie G

    Writing Excellent. The author is easy to read, relatable, and cites his sources. He doesn't write from a snotty "can you believe these freaks" point of view, although he does highlight some pretty crazy behavior (puppy showers for new pet owners). He has an "aren't we crazy" tone as opposed to "aren't YOU crazy" tone that I really liked. And yeah, dog owners (including myself, I will grudgingly admit) can be our own very special breed (terrible pun intended). Entertainment Value Again, loved it. I Writing Excellent. The author is easy to read, relatable, and cites his sources. He doesn't write from a snotty "can you believe these freaks" point of view, although he does highlight some pretty crazy behavior (puppy showers for new pet owners). He has an "aren't we crazy" tone as opposed to "aren't YOU crazy" tone that I really liked. And yeah, dog owners (including myself, I will grudgingly admit) can be our own very special breed (terrible pun intended). Entertainment Value Again, loved it. I really want Luke to read it too, but I'm not sure it's his thing. I was calling him every few minutes as I read to tell him fun facts, though, and we are both crazy about the whole dog parenting thing (yes, we call ourselves mommy and daddy). If you have a pet, especially a dog, and especially a pampered dog, you'll love this one. Even if you don't, I think if you like animals you'll get a lot out of reading it. It's a great examination of people and current culture too. And a pretty quick read too! Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to pick my "son" up from doggy day care and take him to dinner at a dog-friendly restaurant before we go to his agility class.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kennedy

    My name is kenpen. I am a crazy dog person. This book seemed very fitting. One Nation Under Dog is about the rise of the pet as a family member and the corresponding rise in the amount of money that is spent on pets. My family (me, my husband, two bassets, and a cat) certainly fits within the average family in terms of pets in contemporary society. My dogs are my kids. They sleep in the bed with me. I tell them bless you when they sneeze. We buy them expensive quality dog food. Nothing in One Natio My name is kenpen. I am a crazy dog person. This book seemed very fitting. One Nation Under Dog is about the rise of the pet as a family member and the corresponding rise in the amount of money that is spent on pets. My family (me, my husband, two bassets, and a cat) certainly fits within the average family in terms of pets in contemporary society. My dogs are my kids. They sleep in the bed with me. I tell them bless you when they sneeze. We buy them expensive quality dog food. Nothing in One Nation Under Dog was too surprising to me, but still told astonishing tales of very crazy dog people. One of the sections talked about grief groups for pet owners, how their grief is viewed as odd or not as accepted as grief for a family member. I thought this was of special interest since I'd felt that way when Duncan, our old dog, died. The book also talked about high cost medical treatment for pets. I don't think twice about taking the animals to the vet, but definitely wait for myself. If you are a dog lover like me, I think you'd like One Nation Under Dog. If you aren't a dog person, I think you'd read this and think what the heck?!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Grabbed it from hot picks shelf at OPL. Hearing a Fresh Air interview about a Katrina disaster pet rescuer during "pet stories" week was a good accompaniment to reading this book-- about the role dogs play in our lives and in our economy today. Currently reading the part about SF's offleash dog defenders! Grabbed it from hot picks shelf at OPL. Hearing a Fresh Air interview about a Katrina disaster pet rescuer during "pet stories" week was a good accompaniment to reading this book-- about the role dogs play in our lives and in our economy today. Currently reading the part about SF's offleash dog defenders!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Skye

    One Nation Under Dog, by Michael Schaffer, 2009, 288 pp, Holt and Company, $24.00 (from dogpark politics to Prozac-popping puppies) Whoever it was who said that you can’t tell a book by its cover was right! This little book is so much better than its cover implies that I wish I had purchased it last year. Michael Schaffer undertakes everything ‘dog’ in this book and why we love them so. It’s another keeper, particularly since I highlighted sentences after sentence. I am partial to nonfiction books One Nation Under Dog, by Michael Schaffer, 2009, 288 pp, Holt and Company, $24.00 (from dogpark politics to Prozac-popping puppies) Whoever it was who said that you can’t tell a book by its cover was right! This little book is so much better than its cover implies that I wish I had purchased it last year. Michael Schaffer undertakes everything ‘dog’ in this book and why we love them so. It’s another keeper, particularly since I highlighted sentences after sentence. I am partial to nonfiction books that read like fiction and with chapters you can read out of order. The only drawback to One Nation Under Dog is that when you come to the end of one chapter, you can’t wait for the next one – I actually read it in two evenings. Schaffer tackles the entire gamut of dog and society – from how pets evolved from productive partners of man (4-legged tools) to “living emblems of conspicuous consumption.” _______________________________________ One woman’s dog is “like a little girl, packaged in a dog’s clothing” – wearing a matching velvet dress from her dogmother at a doggie birthday party that cost $1500 – a way for shopaholics to continue pampering themselves. A stylish pet is a key accessory, especially with dog shampoos and doggie colognes so abundant. “If you don’t understand that, there’s no way I can explain it to you. Either you get it or you don’t.” Canine social networks help the single person escape from invisibility. James Serpell, PhD, believes this is tied to crumbling social support structures. Dogs fill the gap and help overcome modern isolation: they make friends for their people. But, have we isolated ourselves so much that we need dogs to start a conversation or meet people? One Nation has something for everyone: from a history of San Francisco’s dog wars over leash laws and dog parks, to an analysis of the explosion of veterinary medicine specialties, doggie Prozac, pet health insurance, and women veterinary students whose numbers exploded from 8% in 1968 to 79% in just 30 years. There is also a whole chapter on dog food with the history from table scraps to Purina’s first kibble in 1957 (Dog Chow) to canned food to raw food diets like Bravo! (ostrich, elk, duck, quail, rabbit) to the latest innovation in 2008 – WholeMeals. Schaffer handles topics from the Westminster Kennel Club dog show where the announcers wear tuxedos to Amish and Mennonite puppy mills whose dogs spend their whole lives in wire-floored cages and aren’t even named by the “farmers” who breed them commercially (by the hundreds like cattle or tomatoes) and deny them basic veterinary care, the opportunity to play, and a chance to go to the bathroom except in their wire cages, often unheated in winter. One county in Pennsylvania has 338 registered kennels. Look for signs like ‘STRAW HATS/PUPPIES, ROOT BEER/LABS/BBQ, or WELDING/POMERANIUMS [sic].’ Governor Rendell has been doing an admirable job trying to change all this but he has a long way to go. Also covered are the hypoallergenic cats and rare breeds that go for up to $125,000, designer dogs (cross-breeds like labradoodles who are also called mutts), rent-a-pet businesses in LA and New York, upscale shelters like PAWS in Chicago and , unfortunately, much-needed rescues like the Main Line Animal Rescue in Pennsylvania, as well as the changing field of animal law (how much is Fido or Fluffy worth? Leona Helmsley left 12,000,000$ for her dog and nothing to her grandchildren). Schaffer bravely tackles the controversial field of dog training where you can spend $10,000 and 8 weeks becoming a dog trainer or merely grow up with dogs and hang out your shingle. Books can be authored by PhDs or GEDs. Dog training moved away from military style force-based training in the 1970s with scientific studies of learning and dog-friendly gentle, positive reinforcement, reward-based methods and now, back again with popular TV shows that preach alpha roll-overs and calm assertiveness (without ever defining it) which are so dangerous that you are advised not to try these methods on your own. The author even names names – Ian Dunbar, Tamar Geller, and Jean Donaldson (who neither yank nor spank) backed by psychologists and scientists (but no ‘dog psychologists’) vs Cesar Millan and Bill Koehler. This is simply the best analysis of the history of the controversy that I have read! Dogfighting is countered by activities of shelter-expert Sue Sternberg like LugNuts and TrainingWheels. She offers canine weight-pulling contests in New York City where the weights are large bags of dog food and winners that are neutered get their prize money doubled. We buy educational dog toys (read Toy Town, the chapter on the history of Kong and Tire-Biters) for our latch-key fur-babies so they don’t chew up the sofa while we’re at work, we take them on vacation and stay in dog-friendly hotels, we schedule play dates and sessions with pet photographers and dog stylists (formerly called dog groomers) who give blueberry facials. We now have pet servants for hire and pay up to 140$ a day for dogsitting. There are even pet detectives. ________________________________________________ And, of course, the final chapter covers euthanasia, grief counseling, animal chaplains, pet cemeteries, and veterinary social workers. Who will read this book? Thirty-something professional women who treat their dog as a sentinel, two-earner gay couples, young couples before they start a family, white-picket-fence Americans, aging empty nesters, single men, single women with dogs as accessories, the macho man, and the exurban hunting dog guy. In other words, this book has something for everyone, if only to pshaw about. A true mirror of today’s society. Pets and how we treat them are a measure of society, as much as mental illness is.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom Quinn

    Relatable, casual, and chatty, this book starts out as a memoir but turns into a research project into the varied and expanding business of boutique pet care that Americans spend more that you might expect on. The author has an urbane but likable tone and is quick with some patter and creative wordplay which drives the book forward. 3 stars out of 5. Well-suited as a travel read that passes the time pleasantly, and although I didn't learn a whole lot of new information I did see myself reflected Relatable, casual, and chatty, this book starts out as a memoir but turns into a research project into the varied and expanding business of boutique pet care that Americans spend more that you might expect on. The author has an urbane but likable tone and is quick with some patter and creative wordplay which drives the book forward. 3 stars out of 5. Well-suited as a travel read that passes the time pleasantly, and although I didn't learn a whole lot of new information I did see myself reflected in the author: both baffled and impressed by the many ways kooky pet owners spoil their furry family members.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nia Harrison

    This book met my expectations - describing current society's approach to dogs, but yielding few insights. I enjoyed trying to take a step back from the individual to think about bigger societal implications, and enjoyed the data points he included. This book met my expectations - describing current society's approach to dogs, but yielding few insights. I enjoyed trying to take a step back from the individual to think about bigger societal implications, and enjoyed the data points he included.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Wallace

    Found it too heavy to finish so browsed enough to give an opinion. Lots of facts, as in LOTS and I did not find it an easy for fun read. Maybe there are parts, but lots of big paragraphs of stuff did not engage me. Probably good for people that like that.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    good idea, not so good execution of the idea, the author was ok, the editor was a pompous ass

  14. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    Interesting sociological study of our world with pets. But not totally earth shattering in its originality.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Smith

    Caroline Smith Ms. Frazier English 8 May 23, 2013 Book Review Have you ever noticed that there are more and more pets everywhere you look? Well, in One Nation Under Dog, author Michael Schaffer talks about how and why America is becoming more pet-friendly. Sadly, I do not recommend this book for many reasons. One main reason that I do not recommend One Nation Under Dog is because it has so many statistics that it opens your eyes, not in a good way. For example, when Shaffer is explaining how politic Caroline Smith Ms. Frazier English 8 May 23, 2013 Book Review Have you ever noticed that there are more and more pets everywhere you look? Well, in One Nation Under Dog, author Michael Schaffer talks about how and why America is becoming more pet-friendly. Sadly, I do not recommend this book for many reasons. One main reason that I do not recommend One Nation Under Dog is because it has so many statistics that it opens your eyes, not in a good way. For example, when Shaffer is explaining how politics are even involved in the spreading of pet-friendliness, one official stated, “Pets are the third rail of city politics... you don’t even want to touch it.” (Schaffer 45). Before I had read this book, I just thought that America becoming pet-friendly was a great, fun, and cute movement. But after reading this passage, specifically, I now know that this movement is not great for everybody, such as bird watchers, scientists, people who are scared of pets and more. Another important reason that I do not recommend this book is that it is extremely repetitive. In chapters 2 and 3, Shaffer talks about the politics of pet and human interaction (Shaffer 25-60). I believe this repetition made this book not interesting. Repetition caused me to feel like I could skip over some passages and still understand the main concept of the book, which is not a good trait of this book. The last reason that I do not recommend One Nation Under Dog is that t contains too many stats, then abruptly switches to a story. Towards the end of the book, Shaffer says, “In 2006, 664 new pet food products were introduced, up from 282 in 2002” (Shaffer 207). He states this in the middle of talking about his dog and his pet food. Even though the topics are related, it almost seems like Shaffer inserts the stat then keeps going with the story. For me personally, it is interesting and compelling to read stories, but not when there are repetitive and abruptive. These three reasons caused me to not enjoy this book. Even though I have pointed out many negative features about One Nation Under Dog, I do think that it has one positive attribute. That is the fact that Shaffer makes it personal. Starting off the book, Shaffer says, “By the time we finally say Murphy, we had driven the two hours of highway from our house in Philadelphia to... the rural part of New Jersey... Thus began our unwitting journey into the $41-billion-a-year world of the pet industry” (Shaffer 1, 4). Making it personal made it easier for me to relate, and be interested in the topic. Also, when an author makes a book personal, it lets you know that they are invested and experienced in the subject they are talking about. Personalization was the positive attribute I saw in One Nation Under Dog. Overall, I do not recommend this book to most people because of many reasons. But, I do recommend this book to people thinking of starting a pet industry business or product, getting a pet, and buying pet products. One Nation Under Dog is not for many people, in my opinion.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shirley

    One Nation Under Dog is an amazing, fact-filled book on our nation's obsession with what Michael Schaffer refers to as our "fur babies". His journalistic distance and love for his St. Bernard, Murphy, make for an excellent balance. A book that could be dry with studies, facts and figures is enlivened with anecdotes that touch the hearts of those of us who love the dogs we consider cherished members of our families. Sometimes, we are made to feel that we need to apologize for the expense and care One Nation Under Dog is an amazing, fact-filled book on our nation's obsession with what Michael Schaffer refers to as our "fur babies". His journalistic distance and love for his St. Bernard, Murphy, make for an excellent balance. A book that could be dry with studies, facts and figures is enlivened with anecdotes that touch the hearts of those of us who love the dogs we consider cherished members of our families. Sometimes, we are made to feel that we need to apologize for the expense and care that we lavish upon our dogs. It's wonderful to know that there are so many of us out there doing the same thing. I gained a better understanding of the problem that caused the tainted pet food that killed so many pets. The medical technology and treatments that are now available is amazing. It is a book where the reader can learn from the experiences of others how to improve the lives of their own pets. There are many new services available for our dogs. The market for pet services and products is expanding exponentially. Near the end of the book, Michael Schaffer describes how he had acquired more than enough material for writing the book and how his deadline was closing-in. "I'd started doing research on the new pet world--way back when--feeling mainly bemused about how I'd been sucked into the universe of dog walkers and pet hotels and veterinary antidepressants. I thought of it as a chronicle of absurdities, albeit absurdities in which I was a participant. I'd imagined the pet universe being full of people much farther gone than myself. My early expectations of the pet bereavement group, in particular, had involved crazy cat ladies rather than sophisticated grievers like Makowski, who sought support in the only place she could find it." (p. 249-250) Schaffer's book is a wonderful dialog on "America's Love Affair with Our Dogs." It's a concise reference on the cultural, political, and medical changes that have brought our dog lovin' country to the place where we are today. Thanks go to Schaffer for taking us along on his journalistic expedition.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rosey

    Interesting look at dog ownership and how that's changed over the years, from "man's best friend" who lives outside to "mommy and daddy's furbaby" who wears pajamas to sleep in the master bed. It's tough to make the "right" choices for your pets, when you're either coddling them or poisoning them with whatever you choose, so the author explores why these choices exist and what they say about our culture. I think he skipped over an important point - it's very much either/or right now. Either you k Interesting look at dog ownership and how that's changed over the years, from "man's best friend" who lives outside to "mommy and daddy's furbaby" who wears pajamas to sleep in the master bed. It's tough to make the "right" choices for your pets, when you're either coddling them or poisoning them with whatever you choose, so the author explores why these choices exist and what they say about our culture. I think he skipped over an important point - it's very much either/or right now. Either you kennel your pets in an expensive pet hotel, or you leave them in metal kennel cages open to the outdoors and neighboring barkers. Either you find something to keep them busy inside all day, or you live in an area with a yard and no ordinances against outside pets. Neither option is ever ideal, and each "side" thinks it is the ONLY choice. I also would have liked to see a little more on the psychology of these choices, and WHY owners are torn over doing the right thing for their pets. I enjoyed reading and seeing where our choices with Ozzie fall in the spectrum. The brand we buy is more "premium" than Iams, and we buy it because it has real meat as the first few ingredients. Yes, it's more expensive, but hopefully this will cut down on future vet bills and potentially heart-wrenching decisions later on. (I'm a believer that frankenfood leads to increased health issues, like cancer, in both humans and pets.) And I am very pro-dog-friendly establishments, only because it's so convenient to be able to run errands or grab a bite to eat, and get in a dog walk at the same time. (Oh how I wish the Walgreens across the street would allow dogs!) But I draw the line at letting him wear clothes or get on the furniture, or calling myself his mommy. And although I'll likely be devastated beyond words when he dies, I doubt I'll join a Pet Support Group. I'm not sure where all these choices put me on the spectrum of dog owners, but it's interesting to think about.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kaye Cloutman

    Michael Schaffer offers readers a ‘behind the scenes’ look at what has become common place in American homes today; pampered pets with expensive tastes. This well written book tells stories of dogs whose owners have done everything humanly possible to save them. Owners who hire drivers to get the dog to the vet, to the dog walker and to their pre-scheduled play-dates! Touching tales about pet lovers who have gone to great lengths to find remedies, cures and therapy for their pets when standard v Michael Schaffer offers readers a ‘behind the scenes’ look at what has become common place in American homes today; pampered pets with expensive tastes. This well written book tells stories of dogs whose owners have done everything humanly possible to save them. Owners who hire drivers to get the dog to the vet, to the dog walker and to their pre-scheduled play-dates! Touching tales about pet lovers who have gone to great lengths to find remedies, cures and therapy for their pets when standard veterinary care could not save them; are sprinkled throughout the book. For the dog lover, this book will provide some entertaining anecdotes and some incredible, though shocking facts about the food, supply and service industries which have grown considerably in the last decade. From deli’s that have switched from serving humans to serving only prime cuts for dogs, to mortuaries specializing in providing full-service funerals; this book reveals fun facts and tales that even the ‘know-it-all’ dog expert will find fascinating, funny and sometimes frightening. One Nation Under Dog gives readers a look at how we as a nation have brought dogs from being outdoor pets to being ‘latchkey pooches’ with trendy clothing, custom designed health insurance and canine boarding schools. For a book of its genre, it’s an enjoyable and informative read without so much detail that it puts you (and your pooch) to sleep.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Edwin Arnaudin

    Not quite the Fast Food Nation-esque exposé of the pet industry that I'd imagined, but informative and engaging nonetheless. In highlighting how quickly the pet business has grown, Schaffer plays both sides of each chapter-length focal point, equally questioning whether modern animal luxuries are worthwhile or wasteful. Instead of constantly implying what ridiculous freaks pet owners are, the book's tone takes time to explore the thinking behind raw food diets, pet hotels (and airlines), chihuah Not quite the Fast Food Nation-esque exposé of the pet industry that I'd imagined, but informative and engaging nonetheless. In highlighting how quickly the pet business has grown, Schaffer plays both sides of each chapter-length focal point, equally questioning whether modern animal luxuries are worthwhile or wasteful. Instead of constantly implying what ridiculous freaks pet owners are, the book's tone takes time to explore the thinking behind raw food diets, pet hotels (and airlines), chihuahua birthday parties, and pricey surgeries, leaving the verdict of relative freakishness up to the reader. This inquisitive but non-judgmental approach gives the investigation charm instead of muck-raking scorn (which can be fun with the right topic, including Eric Schlosser's aforementioned text), aided by Schaffer's own status as an owner of a St. Bernard named Murphy. It also persuaded me to strongly consider investing in the ever-growing pet industry. As a cat owner, it's nice not to have to bother with many of the dog-only issues Schaffer raises, many of which my canine-owning friends employ (you know who you are). But considering the love I feel for Atticus, I understand the lengths that dog owners will go to make their lil' drooler feel like a legitimate part of the family...even if the pups can't take care of themselves to the extent that cats can. But that's just, like, my opinion, man.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    I first learned of this book through a friend who recommended a National Public Radio interview with the author, Michael Schaffer. I have always loved dogs and also do some pet-sitting on the side, so I guess I was predisposed to enjoy the subject matter. I did enjoy the book, very much, and really appreciated the research and the coverage on topics from pet and health care to pet boarding to animal spa treatments to pet parties. Of course, as I was afraid it would, the late chapter on how we ma I first learned of this book through a friend who recommended a National Public Radio interview with the author, Michael Schaffer. I have always loved dogs and also do some pet-sitting on the side, so I guess I was predisposed to enjoy the subject matter. I did enjoy the book, very much, and really appreciated the research and the coverage on topics from pet and health care to pet boarding to animal spa treatments to pet parties. Of course, as I was afraid it would, the late chapter on how we manage the death of our pets made me cry. Sensitive pet-lovers, beware. On the surface, it's about our pet culture, but really its's a look at ourselves and how pets color and shade our own humanity--or lack thereof. Shaffer clearly loves animals and identifies with his subject matter....his cat and St. Bernard provide a lot of inspiration...and he does not judge those who are so wrapped up in their animals that they may appear eccentric. He is also appropriately sober when discussing how some mistreat the innocent creatures in their care. How our society regards its companion animals is as important a topic as any other popular sociological study. I wanted to do a deeper analysis.....but it would be as pointless as analyzing a happy, eager, tail-wagging dog...it's simply true and reassuring, and that's enough.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jami

    Yes, I took my time reading this. It's not because it wasn't interesting. It was filled with lots of great stories about our fascination and sometime obsession with our four-legged friends. It took me so long because the way this book is set up, it is easy to put the book down for a few days, or months, and pick it back up again. Though I don't agree with everything Schaffer says, it is enlightening looking back at how our dog's role has grown over the years. From being kept on leads in the back Yes, I took my time reading this. It's not because it wasn't interesting. It was filled with lots of great stories about our fascination and sometime obsession with our four-legged friends. It took me so long because the way this book is set up, it is easy to put the book down for a few days, or months, and pick it back up again. Though I don't agree with everything Schaffer says, it is enlightening looking back at how our dog's role has grown over the years. From being kept on leads in the backyard to being pampered with beds, clothes, and organic food, our understanding of Fido's needs has matured and our relationship with them has become stronger than ever. I recommend this book to anyone who has seen that over-pampered pooch being chauffeured around and wondered what is going on there. And to those, like myself, who feel that our furry friends are worth every penny and every bit of our love.

  22. 5 out of 5

    John Kues

    The author goes to great lengths to research the information for his book. It seems he will travel anywhere to get all viewpoints on his subjects. I enjoy his writing, but I was expecting more humor and more about his own pets. He does not look down on those who pamper their pets endlessly, rather he gathers data on how much things change over time, and how explosively we have spent on our pets. He talks to trainers with differing methods, San Francisco dog parks vs environmental opponents, vari The author goes to great lengths to research the information for his book. It seems he will travel anywhere to get all viewpoints on his subjects. I enjoy his writing, but I was expecting more humor and more about his own pets. He does not look down on those who pamper their pets endlessly, rather he gathers data on how much things change over time, and how explosively we have spent on our pets. He talks to trainers with differing methods, San Francisco dog parks vs environmental opponents, various views on what we feed our pets, and covers how we deal with their short lives, he really covers a lot of territory. At times it is just too much data, other times he gets involved with those dealing with their grief. I can't really point out what I find missing, at times I really enjoyed it and other times it just seemed to drag a bit. Not a bad read actually.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ann Rufo

    Michael Schaffer's book starts with one simple premise: how did we become a society so obssessed with our dogs? Exploring different areas of dog life in each chapter from dog parks to puppy mills, he ultimately argues that we have reached a point in time where our dogs and cats have moved from the status of pet to the status of child, or, as he calls it, fur-child. It's not any type of exhaustive expose, or treatise on the socioeconomic factors leading to a paradigm shift in dog-human relations, Michael Schaffer's book starts with one simple premise: how did we become a society so obssessed with our dogs? Exploring different areas of dog life in each chapter from dog parks to puppy mills, he ultimately argues that we have reached a point in time where our dogs and cats have moved from the status of pet to the status of child, or, as he calls it, fur-child. It's not any type of exhaustive expose, or treatise on the socioeconomic factors leading to a paradigm shift in dog-human relations, but it's certainly an entertaining romp through current dog culture, and as a crazy dog owner who adamantly sees my golden retriever as my child, I enjoyed every minute of it. Even the really embarrassing one, when I realized the super-expensive designer pet shampoo he was mocking was the same one in my shower, purchased in copper color for my dog. Oh.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Very interesting read. I have been looking for a book like Schaffer's for a while. Where the focus explores our modern experiences as dog owners and what that is saying about ourselves and our society. As a dog owner, I found Schaffer's in-depth look into the balloning, obsessive world of pet ownership eye-opening. Having just spent an insane amount of money on my own dog's health, the chapter about vet health care was not surprising. It helped me put into perspective where I stood as a pet-owne Very interesting read. I have been looking for a book like Schaffer's for a while. Where the focus explores our modern experiences as dog owners and what that is saying about ourselves and our society. As a dog owner, I found Schaffer's in-depth look into the balloning, obsessive world of pet ownership eye-opening. Having just spent an insane amount of money on my own dog's health, the chapter about vet health care was not surprising. It helped me put into perspective where I stood as a pet-owner on certain issues. For instance, I found it troubling to hear of aged dogs going through evasive (if not painful) surgeries just to live a couple more months. I found it inspiring to learn of a mobile pet-education team that seeks people out who may not understand that tying a dog for long spans of time to a tree is not the best idea.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This a great, entertaining, touching, thought provoking book, whether or not you are a pet person. It takes a look at the changing role of pets in America and what that might say about our culture, but it does while talking about the ins and outs of dog culture in this country. Its fascinating, funny, at points it made me cry,its just a super engaging read. Now I am a dog "mom" like the author I never wanted to be one of "those people" but I am a bit neurotic about my dog and I know my husband t This a great, entertaining, touching, thought provoking book, whether or not you are a pet person. It takes a look at the changing role of pets in America and what that might say about our culture, but it does while talking about the ins and outs of dog culture in this country. Its fascinating, funny, at points it made me cry,its just a super engaging read. Now I am a dog "mom" like the author I never wanted to be one of "those people" but I am a bit neurotic about my dog and I know my husband thinks I am in danger of becoming a crazy dog lady if for some reason we can't have children! But really, this book is for everyone, if you hate people like me, or if like me you just bought your pooch breath doggy breath mints and feel guilty that you aren't feeding him a raw diet of human grade meat yet, also if you are more crazy than me like Paris Hilton!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amber Polo

    Entertaining without being self-righteous. Schaffer discusses significant and fascinating issues: puppy mills, dog-fighting, pet food deaths, and yuppie puppy high end services. He sounds like a concerned and confused pet owner researching the world of pet economics and culture. It was refreshing to hear about groups like Training Wheels and Lug Nuts working to prevent the solve problems before dogs need rescue. Personally, I wonder if the huge numbers of rescue dog supporters have given up on ed Entertaining without being self-righteous. Schaffer discusses significant and fascinating issues: puppy mills, dog-fighting, pet food deaths, and yuppie puppy high end services. He sounds like a concerned and confused pet owner researching the world of pet economics and culture. It was refreshing to hear about groups like Training Wheels and Lug Nuts working to prevent the solve problems before dogs need rescue. Personally, I wonder if the huge numbers of rescue dog supporters have given up on educating the public and are concentrating on saving the dogs. To me it seems that anti pure-bred dog people label all dog breeders as puppy mills. Without caring breeders all we'd have is puppy mills raising dogs like livestock based on the price they can charge without concern that these animals will be brought into real homes as family members.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Joyner

    Aaron and I, much like the author, were a little surprised at how much of the pet-centric culture reflected in this book was writ small in our own life: We have the expensive purchase from a breeder who wanted to vet us... Buying a SUV to tote dog & baby, when we swore we weren't SUV people... Expensive pet food from a specialty store. Dog training classes - currently in our second set... A dog walker/sitter (my co-worker) who mainly is just coming out because we'll be spending a few days in the hos Aaron and I, much like the author, were a little surprised at how much of the pet-centric culture reflected in this book was writ small in our own life: We have the expensive purchase from a breeder who wanted to vet us... Buying a SUV to tote dog & baby, when we swore we weren't SUV people... Expensive pet food from a specialty store. Dog training classes - currently in our second set... A dog walker/sitter (my co-worker) who mainly is just coming out because we'll be spending a few days in the hospital when the baby comes... More toys on the floor than our poor cat had ever seen... Lets hope we never rack up massive vet bills, start a dog wardrobe, need a dog chauffeur, or want to kennel our dog at a hotel more expensive than ours. =)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Found this book at the house where I am house sitting. The jacket did not describe this book properly as I thought it would be more of a novel then just facts and stuff when in fact, it was nearly all facts and figures with just a little story thrown in, but nothing to follow. More like personal anecdotes then anything else, but nothing to follow. It was still a sort of interesting read as it talked about how pets have evolved over the years and what the industry is like now and how much has cha Found this book at the house where I am house sitting. The jacket did not describe this book properly as I thought it would be more of a novel then just facts and stuff when in fact, it was nearly all facts and figures with just a little story thrown in, but nothing to follow. More like personal anecdotes then anything else, but nothing to follow. It was still a sort of interesting read as it talked about how pets have evolved over the years and what the industry is like now and how much has changed especially recently. And it was a pretty up to date book as it went all the way through last summer in talking about the downturn of the economy and how who knows what is going to change next when it comes to pets and stuff. Grade: D+

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen O'Neal

    I absolutely loved this lighthearted yet smart exploration of the many ways in which contemporary Americans love and pamper their canine family members. At the same time, the book is truly educational and informative in reference to the landscape of dog ownership and care in modern America. In particular, the book deals with new advances in veterinary medicine, health insurance plans for pets, increased attention paid to pets within the context of the American legal system, upscale goods and se I absolutely loved this lighthearted yet smart exploration of the many ways in which contemporary Americans love and pamper their canine family members. At the same time, the book is truly educational and informative in reference to the landscape of dog ownership and care in modern America. In particular, the book deals with new advances in veterinary medicine, health insurance plans for pets, increased attention paid to pets within the context of the American legal system, upscale goods and services marketed to dog owners, controversies regarding pet food and dog training techniques, and ultimately the increasing tenderness and care with which animal owners approach end of life issues impacting their pets. Recommended for anyone that loves dogs.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan Krafcheck

    It was interesting to read how many Americans spoil their pet. Also, interesting is the amount of money dog owners spend on treats, medical bills, and things to spoil their pets.(sweaters, parties, organic foods, etc.) Kovak, my American Eskimo, was put down on Valentine's 2010. He lived his life as full as he could--eating a treat a day, Pedigree canned dog food and dry Science Diet. As he became older, he had an occasional pain pill. He walked 3 miles a day up until he was about 15 years old. T It was interesting to read how many Americans spoil their pet. Also, interesting is the amount of money dog owners spend on treats, medical bills, and things to spoil their pets.(sweaters, parties, organic foods, etc.) Kovak, my American Eskimo, was put down on Valentine's 2010. He lived his life as full as he could--eating a treat a day, Pedigree canned dog food and dry Science Diet. As he became older, he had an occasional pain pill. He walked 3 miles a day up until he was about 15 years old. Then it would be a run down the driveway and back. Did I spoil him? Sure I did--but not to the extent these Americans do in the book. Kovak was almost 17 years old.

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