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With Dogs at the Edge of Life

With Dogs at the Edge of Life - Colin Dayan
This book has a little trouble hanging together. The first section is an exploration of her relationship with her dogs and their relationships with each other. I didn't know anything about the author before this book, so maybe those more familiar with her will make more sense of this. It is memoir, but without personal detail, somehow. Her husband is to be despised. I think. I'm not sure. Her dogs are definitely to be loved. Her live dogs channel the spirit of her dead dog. And then she breaks into scripture.

The second section is a strong defense of pit bulls. It centers on cases in which pit bull terriers are killed by state agencies on suspicion of being dangerous. This seems unfair. And then she follows up with a defense of dog fighting. This is a wonderful breed. And if you love this breed, you will let this breed do what it was bred to do, and fight. Why is Spanish bull fighting culturally valuable but Japanese dog fighting is not?

Okay, this is good for me because I never in a million years would have asked myself or anyone else those questions. Rich people's terriers are safe, poor people's are not. Dogs are killed without due process. Okay, I was with her. And then... what's so bad about dog fighting after all? Umm... really lost me there. I suspect there will be many readers who can't read this without throwing their copies against the wall. I got through it. And like I said, it's good to read something shocking once in a while. Oh, and then she sticks this in her argument for decriminalization of some dog fights: "To have the dog in you is to have Christ in your heart." Hmmm. Not sure I followed her there either. But she does point out the hypocrisy of certain humane organizations who rescue dogs from alleged dog fighting rings only to argue that they be put to death because they are bred (bred, not raised -- this justifies killing even the puppies) to be dangerous. I get that.

And then the last section is a meditation on the stray dogs of the cities of the world. This one actually makes a little sense to me, so that's great. She argues that how we treat stray dogs is tied to our humanity and our outlook on life in general. Her stories are very one-sided but again, make a little sense, at least.

There's almost no science or nature in this book, and I guess I initially picked it up because I thought it would be a little more grounded than it is. But not everyone is looking for broad factual stuff. One thing is for sure: this is an interesting read. A little scatterbrained, but very interesting. For me, it was only okay, which is 2 stars on goodreads and 3 stars most other places.

I got a free copy of this from Net Galley.