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The HIDDEN LIFE OF DOGS [Mass Market Paperback]

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1 1995
Offering insight into the lives and habits of dogs, wolves, and dingoes, a collection of case stories illustrate basic philosophies for canine happiness and their human-like emotions and relationships. Reprint. NYT.

Product Details


Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Thomas's multifaceted discussion of canine life was a 28-week PW bestseller.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Novelist/ethologist Thomas may be well known to readers for her novels Reindeer Moon (LJ 1/87) and The Animal Wife ( LJ 7/90). This work, however, takes a much different tack in that it provides a readable account of how, over a a span of years, her family dogs were transformed into a family unit not unlike a wolf pack. Thomas is a firm believer that animals think and express emotion and is not ashamed to be "anthropomorphic" in her particular analysis of dog behavior. Her intention is to find out, by observing her own animals, what it is that dogs "want." The dogs were free to make their own decisions; Thomas fed them, sheltered them, and provided medical care but otherwise didn't train them or direct their activities. The observations she makes are entertaining and amusing to anyone who has owned a dog. Her conclusion is that dogs want each other, and people are merely substitutes for other canines. Although Thomas draws on her knowledge of philosophy and the theory of animal consciousness, this book never bogs down in theory and remains very readable. A title worth considering for libraries where there is client interest.
- Edell Marie Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., Wis.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I BEGAN observing dogs by accident. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How to Make a Buck from Cruelty July 27 2002
Format:Paperback
This poetic little book celebrating cruelty to dogs has undoubtedly been quite profitable, but I wonder how many dogs' lives it has cost. Readers who don't know any better will be encouraged to let their dogs roam loose and to breed them without any thought of finding genuinely good homes for the puppies. The next time you see a smashed dog by the roadside, or a litter of pups dumped at the pound, think of this book, which has done all it can to make these things happen. The author also commits an additional act of incomprehensible cruelty: After her top female dog kills all of the puppies of another dog, the author deliberately breeds the victimized dog again, and lets her sweat out her pregnancy in an agony of fear. The author's training as an impartial anthropologist observer seems to have caused her to lose sight of her moral responsibilities. These are not wolves to be impartially observed without interference, but her own dogs or friends' dogs, whose well-being and happiness are her deepest moral responsibility. Little wonder that her dogs wanted almost nothing to do with her toward the end of the book. They must have understood how profoundly she had betrayed them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Absolutely nothing new here. Really, what could you learn from someone who thinks it is fascinating to watch her supposedly beloved dog cross the Alewife Parkway in Cambridge -- repeatedly! As she revels in allowing her "dogs to be dogs" all I could think about was: imagine being her neighbor! (which she does, in fact, imply is pure hell). Maybe if she had learned something interesting from her supposed research you could argue it was worthwhile, although I personally have trouble with the idea of potentially sacrificing great dogs to senseless research. Everything she finds enlightening has already been (better) researched and basically comes straight out of wolf research. Send in the humane society (the dog catcher has already called -- several times)!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Get those dogs away from this woman! March 4 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This little book is a riff of anthropomorphic nonsense about a group of dogs that have had the misfortune to pass through Ms. Thomas' hands over the years. This is a woman who acquires dogs "one for each member of the family," as though she were purchasing toothbrushes. She has no compunction about letting a dog left in her care wander at will over a large urban area, including crossing busy highways, "just to see where he went!" She does not believe in training dogs, but rather "lets them train themselves," and she apparently has not heard of spaying or neutering as the responsibility of a pet owner. I finished the book, but felt like throwing it against the wall more than once.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of an IRRESPONSIBLE dog owner! April 25 2003
Format:Paperback
I read this book over the weekend, and it bugs me more every day. Humans have spent 14,000 years domesticating dogs; we are responsible for their health, well-being, and behavior. Marshall Thomas has neglected her duty to her dogs by allowing them to roam freely into danger, breed indiscriminantly (with disasterous results), and generally placed them and others (human and canine) at risk by allowing animal instinct to take over in an unnatural situation (11 dogs in a city house). What she has learned in the process of "observing" the behavior of her dogs is NOT worth the suffering and problems that have been caused to them and others. This book is ANNOY the heck out of anyone who really cares about their dogs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sad Failure to Communicate Nov. 22 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
What a sad and pathetic example of someone who fails to establish a basic relationship with her animals, leaving them to fend for themselves. The poor dogs give up on the hope of human companionship and revert to survival behavior. A pity that this woman has no understanding of how to create a meaningful partnership with her animals, in which humans and canines love and respect each other and enjoy spending time together. The human equivalent to her "experiment" would be leaving your child alone in the woods for a year to see what happens. If you love animals, don't bother with this book. Instead, get a book about agility, obedience, flyball, or another activity you can share and enjoy with your dog.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The Hidden Life of Quasi-Wolves July 11 2003
Format:Paperback
This is a fascinating examination of the behaviour of the author's own and very special pack, which is mainly comprised of huskies, the domesticated dog closest to the root ancestors of all our canine pals - the wolf. But the owner of a Dachshund or even a Labrador (now America's number one pick) will find less of relevance to understanding their companion. We follow Thomas as she ingeniously follows her huskies on hundred mile jaunts in and around the "wilds" of Cambridge. Massachusetts. We listen with great interest but a sense, mainly, of the strange, not the familiar, as her huskies are allowed to recapitulate the lifeways of their feral relatives right in the suburban back yards and city streets. As other reviewers have commented, one is constantly distracted by the thought of how irresponsible the "experiment" is of giving such latitude to any pet, let alone a breed so notoriously unpredictable and aggressive. Do we really want quasi-wolves roaming at will? In the end, despite the high quality of the writing, I personally gathered very much less than I'd expected (from the title and liner notes) towards any new insights about my "Fido".
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was all I remembered and more.
This book made quite an impact on me over 15 years ago when I first read it. I was thrilled to be able to find it again since it's out of print. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Suzanne Dargie
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly truthful
After reading at least 200 books about dogs in an effort to understand mine more fully I found this book. It was enthralling. Read more
Published on June 10 2004 by Mimi LaRowe
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Enthralling!
A beautiful and compelling book that celebrates dogs in all their uniqueness and glory.
The book's main flaw is Thomas's tendency towards New Age pseudoscience (for instance,... Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2004 by Kelly A. Garbato
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting
Despite all of the negative comments of other readers, I really enjoyed this book. It was a very interesting look at the natural behavior of dogs. Read more
Published on Oct. 23 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars The HIdden Life of Dogs
I read and enjoyed this book - I also read the reviews of the short-sighted people who failed to mention THE YEAR in which the "dogs running wild" took place - I believe... Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Here to Entice
Having read the reviews, I was prepared to endure the irresponsible behavior of the author in hopes of learning a little something different about dogs. Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2003 by citywulf
3.0 out of 5 stars mixed feelings about this book
This book is interesting as one person's take on the behavior of her dogs; but certainly not a scientific study! Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Tale of Dogs Unfettered
Sweet tale of dogs unfettered
I read this book many years ago and have since given it to nearly every dog lover I run across. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2002 by "tbestnwest"
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