John Homans, author of “What’s A Dog For?”

by | Jan 30, 2013

John Homans–the longtime executive editor of New York magazine who published his first book, “What’s A Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man’s Best Friend”–discusses how he decided “What’s A Dog For” would represent his first foray into writing books.

He also addresses the way he approached writing the book, propelled primarily by his love for and interest in the current family dog, Stella. dogHomans explains a bit about how he achieved the sweeping scope and detail of the book–touching on an enormous array of dog-related issues and areas–in fewer than 300 pages, acknowledging how many great scholars and great thinkers (Freud, Darwin, Goodall, et al) have had powerful, influential relationships with dogs, and in some cases, their work was affected or driven by those canine relationships. The conversation also lights on the medical and psychological virtues of living with dogs, the complex world of dog shows, the way that shelters and adoptions work have changed considerably in his lifetime–including an expansion of the portion of his book wherein he notes “most fundamentally, the dog market is an ongoing transaction between the red states and the blue states, and it’s based on the same basic differences in core values that are presidential elections so dramatic.”  

COMEDY CORNER: Erin Foley’s “Dogs”  (

MUSIC: Antsy McClain’s “What I’ve Learned From Dogs,” Other Lives’ “Tamer Animals,” instrumentals  

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  Tom Waits’ “Get Behind The Mule”


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