science | March 25, 2013

Man's Best Friend: Praise For Vanessa Woods' The Genius of Dogs

"Welcome the dog child," science speaker Vanessa Woods and co-author Brian Hare write in The Wall Street Journal. "Up to 81% of Americans view their pets as family members, and think about their dogs as much as their children. 71% have a photo of their dog in their wallet or phone that they show other people." It's no wonder, then, that we consider dogs to be "man's best friend." In the article, Woods and Hare expand on the research in their instant New York Times bestselling book The Genius of Dogs. The ability of dogs to understand us (when we point to a ball we want them to fetch or wag our finger when they are misbehaving) is often taken for granted. "This ability is remarkable," the scientists argue in the article, "Not only do dogs understand the meaning behind the point in a similar way to human infants, they are using the social information of a completely different species."

Their book explores the "genius" abilities that dogs have for comprehending humans, and examine how the evolution of these animals can teach us a great deal about how we evolved, as well. In fact, as Woods argued in an article in National Geographic, it may have been dogs that domesticated us and helped shape the way our species developed. Woods is the co-founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, author of the critically hailed memoir, It's Every Monkey for Themselves, and is one of the leading researchers of the Bonobo. Her research seeks to understand the unique bond humans have with animals—and what that says about our place in the world.

Here's some of the praise that The Genius of Dogs has received so far:

"A masterful account of the way science is revealing just how smart dogs can be. Fascinating and highly readable." —John Bradshaw, University of Bristol, author of Dog Sense

"Many authors have tried to anecdotally capture the emotional bond between humans and dogs. Here at last is a book that digs deep into cognitive science to unravel the mysteries of the canine brain. Thoroughly researched and written in the likable voice of a brainy scientist sitting at your kitchen table, The Genius of Dogs is a fascinating look at what goes on between the ears of the animals we share our lives with. I found it entertaining, fast-moving, and filled with gee-whiz insights that gave me a new appreciation for the complex social intelligence of man’s best friend." — John Grogan, author of Marley & Me and The Longest Trip Home

“The definitive dog book of our time by the researcher who started a revolution.” —Daniel J. Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs

The Genius of Dogs brilliantly explains the canine mind and in doing so illuminates the natural history of all intelligence. This book will captivate anyone interested in dog, ape or human mentality.” —Richard Wrangham, Harvard University, author of Catching Fire

Up Next

innovation | March 24, 2013