1993: The Hidden Life of Dogs
Author: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
In this beautiful account, based on thirty years of living with and observing dogs, wolves and dingoes novelist and anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas brings us a completely new understanding of dogs. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas has observed not only dogs, but also cats and elephants during her career. The Hidden Life of Dogs was on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year. From an article that appeared in Publisher’s Weekly, Thomas shares her thoughts about the relationship she has with her own dogs:
“The books I have written about dogs evoked thousands of letters from readers whose dogs are as essential to them as mine are to me. Some readers described the loss through death of beloved dogs. Perhaps they wanted to share their loss with someone who understands it, because the loss itself has no societal recognition—no formal funeral, no acknowledged mourning—even though, for some of us, the tragedy is as serious as the loss of a person. And this, I think, is due to the intimacy of the relationship.
We display this through our sense of privacy and also of solitude. Imagine yourself about to take a bath. Your dog is with you, but you feel no embarrassment—you take off your bathrobe and get in the tub. If your audience were human, you might not take off the bathrobe, or if you did, you might wonder how you looked. None of this happens with your dog because the dog is somehow part of you. To be with him is like being alone, but better. For the same reason you might say you were alone even if your dog were right beside you. Again, it’s because the dog is part of you, in a way that no person can be.
As far as I’m concerned, I own my dogs as I own my body. My legs are with me when I take a shower and I feel no shame. If I were to lose one, I’d grieve, and people would send sympathy cards, but it would be my condition that evoked the sympathy, not the fate of the leg. That’s like losing a dog.”
Photo of the author courtesy of the New York Times