Honestly, I stumbled at the first page of the preface, but I'll give any book 30 pages of attention, so I kept moving. By the first page in chapter 1, I was hooked, and I put the book down at 2 AM, when I was done.
Full disclosure: I live with six dogs, including 4 black dogs, 3 dogs over 70#, and one Chihuahua. All foundlings. I know of one 200# dog that may come my way, if her owner dies, and I try to keep a place open for her. I do not do formal "rescue," but I live where people in the city think they can dump dogs "out in the country," so a lot of dogs come through my life.
A Small Furry Prayer is a good book. I would love to have more Chihuahuas and it's probably good for my human relationships that Chihuahuas are not as popular in this part of the world and therefore don't wash up as strays and discards as much as they do within driving distance of California.
The book starts mostly about dogs, and finishes mostly about ethics and philosophy and science involving animals, and I enjoyed the dog stories more. It was also earlier in the evening, so maybe "tired" was a factor. I knew the bit about Descartes and I haven't been able to think of him kindly since, except what kind of childhood brings a person to that belief? and can we apply today's understand to those times? Dunno.
If you've read much about the science of dogs, you've probably encountered some of the authors and research that Kotler covers in ASFP. Coren, Coppinger, a couple of others I must have read in library versions because they're not on my bookshelf. His research goes a lot farther than mine has.
I'm thinking I'm going to have to read this again in a few weeks, and maybe give it to my BF (who is quite clear that six dogs are more than enough). Dogs need their pack, and I need dogs, and reading ASFP is simply more icing on that cake. Don't read it if you would really rather not find a reason to add another dog (Chihuahuas don't eat much at all, and they don't poop any more than a cat) to your life.
As someone who's been involved, in our own small way, in dog rescue (we've opened our doors to six pugs over the years, four of whom were rescues, and my wife is still active, across country, with the Seattle Pug Rescue organization), I knew Steven Kotler's tale of his much, much larger-scale commitment to dog rescue would be an emotional combination of highs and lows. What I wasn't expecting was the fascinating discussion of evolutionary genetics showing the amazing extent to which dogs and humans … more
"While dog rescue is one of the largest underground movements in America, it is also one of the least understood. This insider look at the cult and culture of dog rescue" weaves personal experience, cultural investigation, and scientific inquiry as it explores "what it means to devote one's life to the furry and the four-legged."--Dust jacket. The author chronicles his adventures at Rancho de Chihuahua, the New Mexico sanctuary he and his wife created for their special needs dogs.
“Joyous… Brimming with humor, gratitude, and grace, this is a remarkable story.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“As he recounts their life in Chimayo (the pack at times approaches 50, all entertainingly delineated), Kotler seamlessly blends a history of Chimayo, a well-articulated understanding of how humans and dogs coevolved, and background on animal welfare efforts in this country with his witty, sharp-edged, and rewarding reflections on life. Kotler defiantly proclaims his love of Chihuahuas (he's hilarious), then shatters our hearts and ends by laying down a real ethical challenge. Highly recommended not only for dog lovers but for readers of memoir, biology, and anthropology and seekers generally.” —Library Journal, starred review
“Part memoir and part philosophical study of the dog-human relationship... Reflecting on the writings of mystics, philosophers, and animal ...