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A Dog in the Cave: the Wolves Who Made Us Human by Kay Frydenborg

A Dog in the Cave: the Wolves Who Made Us Human by Kay FrydenborgVOYA Reviews 2017 February
This book explores the history and origins of the human relationship to and with man’s best friend. It also looks at how that relationship shaped and was shaped by the evolution of both species. As the relationship grew, each species learned to depend on the strengths of the other. For instance, humans used the dog’s superior sense of smell for tracking prey; consequently, humans’ sense of smell diminished. Similarly, early dogs benefitted from humans’ ability to capture and kill large prey—providing ample food for both species—and lost their wolf ancestors’ natural fear and distrust of humans. Scientists refer to this as coevolution. Dog research has come into its own only in the last few decades as researchers have discovered the many similarities that humans share with dogs. The fact that dogs and humans suffer from many of the same health issues—cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and more—offers new possibilities for discovering causes and cures. Scientists are also finding ways to study dogs’ brain functions and, indeed, have shown that dogs have a true capacity for empathy—something that will not surprise many dog owners. Behavioral and genetic studies of different breeds and their ability to empathize could help in selecting breeds best suited to becoming therapy or service dogs. So many aspects of the human-dog relationship are covered that it is difficult to touch on them all in a single review. The material is presented in a clear, readable fashion, making this narrative nonfiction highly approachable. The only criticism is that sidebar information (albeit very interesting information) is often inserted into the text and frequently disrupts the flow of the narrative. Notes and a bibliography list the numerous studies referred to throughout the book and give credibility to the material. It is obvious that Frydenborg is passionate about blending science and history, and about the dog-human bond. This would be a fine addition to any library serving teen researchers or teens who are wild about dogs.—Debbie Wenk. Photos. Source Notes. Biblio. 4Q 3P M J S Copyright 2017 Voya Reviews.