Saturday, April 28, 2007

Dogs on TV

Don't forget to watch part 2 tomorrow night of the Nature series Dogs That Changed the World. The show is getting a lot of play because, well, after all, they are our best friends. Rick Kushman of the Houston Chronicle, who proudly proclaims himself a dog guy, calls it a solid hour of dog charisma. In the New York Times, Susan Stewart focuses on the diversity of dogs, alluding to them as freaks of nature and at times even grotesque, thanks to human manipulation. "As a lesson in genetics, 'Dogs' is far more entertaining and peculiar than Gregor Mendel's peas ever hoped to be," she writes. The LA Times' Paul Brownfield notes, along with Stewart and Kushner, that what probably separated the wolf from the proto-dog was willingness to approach human settlements in search of food--garbage, that is, a theory espoused by Hampshire College professor Ray Coppinger. I first reported on this theory in an article on the history of the dog-human bond, which appeared in the October 2000 AKC Gazette. "Dog's first job, and one for which he is still well known, was a combination of waste management and security system," I wrote. Huh. Sort of like The Sopranos. Only cuddlier.

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