I got a Kindle for Christmas. It has really brought the act of reading back into my daily routine. I just finished my first e-book, How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and his Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain. I first saw its author at Dragon Con 2015. I'm so glad I kept my promise to myself and purchased this work. It is the perfect publication for science lovers and dog lovers alike.
My husband and I are dog people to a fault. We're a stereotype often seen on the Internet: the urban couple that isn't interested in children, but will stop conversations to point at cute doggies. I love giant, intelligent dogs. The geek guy loves dumb, needy dogs. Surely, when we get a home that allows them, we will have both.
Author Gregory Berns started with a pug named Newton. His deep love for Newton is what first inspired the question, "Do our dogs love us?" At the start of this book, Berns adopts Callie, an energetic dog that has very little in common with the late Newton. Callie, though, becomes "top dog" in a scientific study.
Berns, a neuroscientist, painstakingly trains a fully-conscious Callie to sit in an MRI machine. If you've ever had an MRI, you can imagine the difficulty! You can't move- even a millimeter- or the scans don't come out clearly. MRIs can be claustrophobic, and are always VERY loud. I loved reading all of the steps taken and lessons learned on the path to doggie MRI scans.
Thanks to Dragon Con, I already knew the test results. How Dogs Love Us goes well beyond the panel content, though. In one moment, the author shares a personal story about his daughter. The next, he brings in religious history to explain why people are bound to their beliefs. I learned a ton about animal domestication and how scientific studies are funded. Yes, How Dogs Love Us is a book about neuroscience, but Berns keeps it digestible for folks who are just here for the dog pics.
My one issue with this book is that its ending isn't the end of the journey. Berns scans only two dogs over the course of How Dogs Love Us. His quest has really only begun when the book concludes, with many more animals beginning their training. Any good scientist knows that two tests don't make a reliable data set. So, the title poses a question that Berns really can't answer... yet.
I'm craving the overall results of The Dog Project; they just don't exist. At least we have a book grounded in new science, written with love. How Dogs Love Us does a great job assuring people of what we already assume: dogs are man's first and best friend.
How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain by Gregory Berns, M.D., ph.D. Available on Amazon, $6 for Kindle.
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