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Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs
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Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  263 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Cats and dogs were once wild animals. Today, they are family members and surrogate children. A little over a century ago, pets didn't warrant the meager legal status of property. Now, they have more rights and protections than any other animal in the country. Some say they're even on the verge of becoming legal persons.

How did we get here—and what happens next?

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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by PublicAffairs (first published January 1st 2014)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,069)
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Dec 21, 2015 Debbie rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley, favorites
David Grimm utilizes his skills obtained from his career at Science to write an empathetic and thought provoking work. Animals were once wild, living as modern day wolves and wild cats, but eventually domesticated by the human species. We see our canine and feline friends as family, equally important as our children and spouses. We would save them first from burning buildings, and withstand atrocious circumstances with our furred family before abandoning them. How did this giant leap from feral ...more
Jan 26, 2014 ☕Laura rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book for free through the Goodreads First Reads program, and I found it to be an extremely interesting account of the changing status of dogs and cats in society from the time they first became domesticated thousands of years ago to the present day in which many actually consider them their children. The author presents a very balanced view of the myriad issues involved in whether we treat pets as property or as something more, possibly even persons from a legal standpo ...more
Pankaj Goyal
I received this book as an e-book from Netgalley.

Dogs and cats play a very important role in people’s lives today. People not only love and pamper them but even treat them like their own children. In other words, these animals have become an inseparable part of our family. Now, these animals have more rights and protection than any other animal in the world. How did this happen? How these animals (which were once wild in nature) became humans’ best friends and companions? How these animals are o
May 12, 2014 Sherry rated it it was amazing
If you're looking for a good overview of the evolving role of cats and dogs in our society, this is it. David Grimm does a terrific job covering the past, present, and possible future of the relationship between people and their dogs and cats in a way that is both informative and entertaining.

Grimm covers many of the major issues of interest to animal lovers, including animal cognition, anti-cruelty laws, animal rights, breed bans, TNR, and much more. There are moments that might be difficult f
Jul 07, 2014 Naomi rated it really liked it
Read my full review:

My opinion: As a lover and spoiler of pets, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

On that note, it is a very good, but also a particularly dry read. I broke the book down into "daily read" sections because of the amount of detail provided.

Parts of the book had a schizophrenic feeling because the author jumped from dogs to cats to other animals at times when it didn't feel appropriate and/or necessary.

I loved the history part of the book more than the genetics/a
Tina Kim
As someone who is just bonkers for her dog and cries with regularity just over the thought of her passing one day, I loved the section titled "Family." I also appreciated learning the evolution of pets' legal rights over the past century and absolutely agree that the law cannot only see them as property that people can easily dispense in cases of emergency and evacuation.

However, my strongest criticism lies with Grimm's constant comparison of pets' rights to civil rights for human beings, speci
Jun 09, 2014 Barb added it
Shelves: nonfiction
So dry it made me thirsty.
Sep 21, 2014 H. rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Pets are booming. Dog and cat ownership has quadrupled since the mid-60s and more households have dogs or cats than children. How we as a society view dogs and cats has changed rapidly as well. It’s that change, and the change in how the law views pets, that is Grimm’s focus.

Grimm starts with a short history of domestication. Not much changed in how we viewed pets, and animals in general, until the birth of animal rights in the Nineteenth Century. Even then, “[b]efore 1986, only four states had
Aug 13, 2014 Abby rated it it was amazing
In the past few years, I have read at least 75 books about dogs, so when a new dog book comes out, I kind of assume that I’ve already read some iteration of it before. But this has proven to be a false assumption with David Grimm’s new book, Citizen Canine.

Grimm explores the fast-paced and monumental success of American pets to become the most legally protected animals in the country. Given Americans’ deep love of their dogs and cats, and the billions of dollars a year we shell out on them, it i
Dianne J.
Jan 15, 2016 Dianne J. rated it it was amazing
A terrifically interesting read. Grimm covers the history of our favorite pets from 30,000 BC to current day, from wild to domesticated farm workers and body guards to companions, service animals and finally family members.

So much information I had never heard before that fills in some of the gaps in history. 1233 Pope Gregory IX linked cats to Satan, resulting in the killing of millions of cats in Europe. Without cats to kills the rats . . . 1348-1351 the Black Plague killed half of the popula
Jenn Frederick
May 19, 2014 Jenn Frederick rated it it was amazing
I lived this book. Well written and highly informative, I often found myself unable to put it down. Grimm delves into the history of dogs and cats and explores the theories of how they came to be domesticated. From there he explores the history and evolution of these animals - from wild animals not even afforded the legal protections afforded to people's property thru the increasing number of rights and protections given to animals and their caregivers.

Be warned, though. As is typical of our le
Jun 28, 2014 Laurie rated it really liked it
This is so readable! When I think of all the research that went into this book and then consider how well written it is...well organized, concise, interesting...I'm blown away! I don't think too critically about anything anymore, but this book really gets you...thinking! I should have known not to read certain passages relating to the pets who suffered during Hurricane Katrina...I had nightmares for days after watching a documentary several years ago...but I read them anyway and sure enough that ...more
Aug 23, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Given David Grimm's position as the online editor of Science , I had originally thought this book would be about the molecular genetics of domestication. Then I went to a reading at the Ivy Bookshop, and realized that I was not like the other people there.

But this book does do an excellent job explaining a number of social trends I have observed. Like it or not, the next civil rights battle is for dogs and cats.
One of the most emotionally draining books I have ever read. If you love animals, especially dogs, this is a must read book. But be warned it is full of the crimes humans have committed against dumb creatures, including the abandonment of pets during Hurricane Katrina, dog fighting, the fate of military service dogs, custody battles by divorcing 'parents' and other atrocities. The author also describes the court cases, laws, jurisprudence associated with those crimes. Many humans continue to abu ...more
Carol Storm
Aug 02, 2015 Carol Storm rated it liked it
The history of cats and dogs as pets is really amazing -- and the stories about modern rescue animals are heart warming. But I could have done without the crackpot stuff about pets becoming citizens with legal rights!
Mar 07, 2016 Bonnie rated it really liked it
David Grimm's Citizen Canine is a fascinating exploration of the meaning of Cats & Dogs (pets) in modern day American Society, particularly in the realm of Law & Science. He briefly traces the history of domestication, then draws on specific events that had profound effects on the legal status of pets –such as Hurricane Katrina, pet custody in divorce cases, deceased owners leaving their fortunes to their furry companions, numerous other pioneering court decisions, and the introduction o ...more
T.G. Deitman
Aug 27, 2014 T.G. Deitman rated it liked it
The premise of this book is interesting, whether animals (ie. dogs and cats) should be considered persons instead of property. The author outlines all the good and bad issues that would arise if our pets were elevated to the same status that we now enjoy. the content, primarily provided by first-person interviews is well balanced regarding the positive and negative depending on what side of the question the reader comes down on.

There is also some very interesting side-bar material about the evo
Sep 06, 2015 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely LOVED this book. It covered a number of areas that I thought I knew quite a bit about, and yet I learned a whole lot more. The author posed significant ethical and moral questions regarding our relationship as individuals and as a society with the cats and dogs who live with us and among us. He talked to people on various sides of the issues and managed to bring together a cohesive and logical "solution" that respects and acknowledges concepts from all of them.

In order to enjoy this
Aug 07, 2015 Jeanne rated it liked it
There were plenty of thought provoking ideas buried in this book. The history of how dogs and cats became domesticated, came into our homes, and now fill an emotional void for people without spouses or children. A look at how how our pets sometimes seen as members of society with legal rights. But there was so much in this book that was dull, dry, boring historical fact that it was hard to get through. Even harder were the chapters on cruelty to animals.
Jul 02, 2015 Jax rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals
An enjoyable and, in many places, thought-provoking book. David Grimm covers the spectrum of our changing relationship with companion animals, from early human history to present (and considering the future). This makes the book a great introduction to the concept of non-human animal personhood.

I think it's worth mentioning that Grimm's linking of our treatment of animals to slavery and the subjugation of women is...clunky. Personally, I see the point but Grimm expresses it poorly. It's worth no
May 21, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing
A well-researched book on the history of our relationship with cats and dogs. The author discusses the origin, history, and evolution of domestic cats and dogs and their changing legal status. He questions the sharp line of demarcation that we often draw between human and non-human animals. Grimm interviews people involved in animal welfare and rescue operations and talks to one man who believes humans shouldn't keep domestic animals at all. He also talks to people who argue for full citizenship ...more
Aug 22, 2014 Simone rated it liked it
Shelves: dog-books, 2014-read

This was interesting. I probably would have liked it more if I hadn't read so many other dog books. Is seems I am probably reaching some kind of point of diminishing returns on dog books, much of the early sections of this had been covered by other books I've read, though he brings in a lot of interesting reporting to this. I guess I find the question of pets as citizens perhaps less interesting, and I'm generally more interested in understanding the science of dogs, and for that purpose I would
Caroline Griffin
May 04, 2014 Caroline Griffin rated it it was amazing
Citizen Canine is a fascinating and provocative book that is a must read for anyone who has shared a home with a companion animal. I could not put this book down.
Sarah Brock
Jan 17, 2016 Sarah Brock rated it it was amazing
Shelves: animals
Really enjoyed this book. Very interesting the journey cats & dogs have taken through history, from wild ancestry through to pets with legal rights.

Jiajia Liu
Jun 17, 2014 Jiajia Liu rated it really liked it
The first few chapters was very informative and interesting. I saw a bit Jared diamond's shadow in the first two chapters. Then it got boring.

May 03, 2014 Rose rated it really liked it
Interesting book on the history, and current state, of pets. Issue of civil rights for pets is perhaps treated a little too seriously.
Feb 03, 2015 Christopher rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-dogs
This is a fine history of our relationship to domesticated dogs and cats, and an even finer exploration of how that relationship is currently evolving. Will dogs and cats soon be granted citizenship, or will they remain property in the eyes of the law, even though many human now consider them family? Wherever you stand on the issue - and Grimm makes room for all points of view - you will find the debate fascinating. My only quibble is that I wish the author had included footnotes or endnotes wit ...more
Jul 11, 2014 Jennie rated it really liked it
Cute, covers a lot of legal issues. Light reading
Sep 09, 2015 Andra rated it really liked it
Shelves: pets
quite thought provoking
May 24, 2015 Cathy rated it it was amazing
I confess to being a bit hesitant to start this book, thinking it'd be a dry presentation with too much legalize speak. I was so wrong. It was one of the most interesting reads of my Goodreads challenge to date.

Starting off with a humorous story involving regifting their cat to each other on holidays for a number of years due to an unexpected expensive incident in his youth, the book then split into three sections.

The first section delved into the domestication of pets, covering both dogs and ca
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“Pets, he says, are trapped in a state from which there is no escape. “Domestication has essentially created a mentally disabled child bred to be dependent on us. My dogs will never get to the point where they’ll become wolves and live the way they’re supposed to live.” We wonder why our pets are neurotic, he says, why dogs chew themselves raw and cats shred the drapes. “It’s because they’re not supposed to be living with us. They exist in this netherworld between humans and animals.” 0 likes
“We may think we’ve given cats and dogs all sorts of rights, he says, but we can still buy, sell, and declaw them. And we kill millions in shelters every year. As long as they are not legal persons, our interests will always trump theirs in a court of law. They will always be Dred Scott. They will always be slaves.” 0 likes
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