Thursday, September 1, 2011
dogs and roses
One of the things that's made our experience of having a new dog even more lovely is that we're reading the book Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz. I'd been eyeing the book for a while as I shelved bestsellers at Powell's, and when I brought it home, Stephen had the idea that we could read it together. We used to read to each other when we were first together and have read a number of books that way, including Faraway Places and The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon. It's been a while, though, and when Stephen suggested we do that with Inside of a Dog, I thought it was a perfect idea. Horowitz is a psychologist who focuses her study on animals, and this book explores dogs' perceptual and cognitive abilities and gives you a good idea of what it's like to be a dog.
So lovely to lie in bed together with Nicholas curled up against us or burrowed deep in the covers, and read about dogness. The book is illuminating but also written with a sweet, droll style--and thank you lord, not full of cutesy animal puns. I'd highly recommend reading it if you have a new dog, or otherwise. Here's a paragraph I really enjoyed:
"...Imagine if each detail of our visual world were matched by a corresponding smell. Each petal on a rose may be distinct, having been visited by insects leaving pollen footprints from faraway flowers. What is to us just a single stem actually holds a record of who held it, and when. A burst of chemicals marks where a leaf was torn. The flesh of the petals, plump with moisture compared to that of the leaf, holds a different odor besides. The fold of a leaf has a smell; so does a dew drop on a thorn. And time is in those details: while we can see one of the petals drying and browning, the dog can smell this process of decay and aging. Imagine smelling every minute visual detail. That might be the experience of a rose to a dog..."