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One Nation Under Dog: Adventures in the New World of Prozac-Popping Puppies, Dog-Park Politics, and Organic Pet Food

3.34  ·  Rating Details  ·  352 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
A witty, insightful, and affectionate examination of how and why we spend billions on our pets, and what this tells us about ourselves

In 2003, Michael Schaffer and his wife drove to a rural shelter and adopted an emaciated, dreadlocked Saint Bernard who they named Murphy. They vowed that they'd never become the kind of people who send dogs named Baxter and Sonoma out to ge

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published (first published March 31st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 805)
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Mar 09, 2012 Stacey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, the writing was clear and engaging. What brings my rating down from a 4 to a 3, however, is my issue with the chapter on puppy mills versus breeders. He paints a very black and white comparison between the two, but it is not. There is a much greater shade of grey when it comes to the "responsible" breeders that is completely ignored in this chapter.

While I'm sure many "responsible" breeders care about their dogs as profiled in the chapter, the lack of genetic diversity and he
I learned that there are many puppy mills in Amish country. Who knew?

While I found some of the facts interesting, I did not really learn anything new. I was intrigued by the author's description of Wag's Blueberry Facial

More pages should have been devoted to the paradox of dog treatment in our society. Why are there so many strays, or miserable chained dogs, while some dogs enjoy expensive therapy and blueberry facials?

Before I got my beloved Butterbean, I was one of those people who said I wil
Oct 04, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lori, Frank, Patricia
Grabbed it from hot picks shelf at OPL. Hearing a Fresh Air interview about a Katrina disaster pet rescuer during "pet stories" week was a good accompaniment to reading this book-- about the role dogs play in our lives and in our economy today. Currently reading the part about SF's offleash dog defenders!
Mar 29, 2014 Zachary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable. Movie was much more emotional. This felt more like an extended NYT article.

areas to remember...

"This session, at DePaul University's law school, was called 'How much is Fido/Fluffy worth?'"

"The statistics further suggest the number of [shelter kill] deaths can be drastically reduced in a lot of ways."

social interconnected-ness decreasing...
"Although the number of people who bowl had increased over the preceding two decades, the number of people who bowl in leagues had shrunk."

May 30, 2009 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first learned of this book through a friend who recommended a National Public Radio interview with the author, Michael Schaffer. I have always loved dogs and also do some pet-sitting on the side, so I guess I was predisposed to enjoy the subject matter. I did enjoy the book, very much, and really appreciated the research and the coverage on topics from pet and health care to pet boarding to animal spa treatments to pet parties. Of course, as I was afraid it would, the late chapter on how we ma ...more
Aug 10, 2010 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who scoff at crazy pet parents
A fun, fact-filled book that was an easy read. I think Schaffer did a great job of covering all aspects of pet-hood from bringing the four-legged furbaby home to how we deal with our pets' deaths.

It started off light and fun - talking about the veritable explosion in pet-related spending. You've heard of DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids), right? Well Schaffer introduces readers to DIPPs - Dual Income, Pampered Pets. He laughs at himself and his wife after they adopted Murphy, a Saint Bernard. It par
Kaye Cloutman
May 25, 2009 Kaye Cloutman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Schaffer offers readers a ‘behind the scenes’ look at what has become common place in American homes today; pampered pets with expensive tastes. This well written book tells stories of dogs whose owners have done everything humanly possible to save them. Owners who hire drivers to get the dog to the vet, to the dog walker and to their pre-scheduled play-dates! Touching tales about pet lovers who have gone to great lengths to find remedies, cures and therapy for their pets when standard v ...more
Julie - Book Hooked Blog
Excellent. The author is easy to read, relatable, and cites his sources. He doesn't write from a snotty "can you believe these freaks" point of view, although he does highlight some pretty crazy behavior (puppy showers for new pet owners). He has an "aren't we crazy" tone as opposed to "aren't YOU crazy" tone that I really liked. And yeah, dog owners (including myself, I will grudgingly admit) can be our own very special breed (terrible pun intended).

Entertainment Value
Again, loved it. I
Nov 24, 2011 Shirley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One Nation Under Dog is an amazing, fact-filled book on our nation's obsession with what Michael Schaffer refers to as our "fur babies". His journalistic distance and love for his St. Bernard, Murphy, make for an excellent balance. A book that could be dry with studies, facts and figures is enlivened with anecdotes that touch the hearts of those of us who love the dogs we consider cherished members of our families. Sometimes, we are made to feel that we need to apologize for the expense and care ...more
Sep 01, 2010 Rosey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Interesting look at dog ownership and how that's changed over the years, from "man's best friend" who lives outside to "mommy and daddy's furbaby" who wears pajamas to sleep in the master bed. It's tough to make the "right" choices for your pets, when you're either coddling them or poisoning them with whatever you choose, so the author explores why these choices exist and what they say about our culture.

I think he skipped over an important point - it's very much either/or right now. Either you k
Aug 12, 2013 Skye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One Nation Under Dog, by Michael Schaffer, 2009, 288 pp, Holt and Company, $24.00 (from dogpark politics to Prozac-popping puppies)

Whoever it was who said that you can’t tell a book by its cover was right! This little book is so much better than its cover implies that I wish I had purchased it last year. Michael Schaffer undertakes everything ‘dog’ in this book and why we love them so.

It’s another keeper, particularly since I highlighted sentences after sentence. I am partial to nonfiction books
Caroline Smith
Caroline Smith
Ms. Frazier
English 8
May 23, 2013
Book Review
Have you ever noticed that there are more and more pets everywhere you look? Well, in One Nation Under Dog, author Michael Schaffer talks about how and why America is becoming more pet-friendly. Sadly, I do not recommend this book for many reasons.
One main reason that I do not recommend One Nation Under Dog is because it has so many statistics that it opens your eyes, not in a good way. For example, when Shaffer is explaining how politic
Edwin Arnaudin
Jul 07, 2010 Edwin Arnaudin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite the Fast Food Nation-esque exposé of the pet industry that I'd imagined, but informative and engaging nonetheless. In highlighting how quickly the pet business has grown, Schaffer plays both sides of each chapter-length focal point, equally questioning whether modern animal luxuries are worthwhile or wasteful. Instead of constantly implying what ridiculous freaks pet owners are, the book's tone takes time to explore the thinking behind raw food diets, pet hotels (and airlines), chihuah ...more
Not necessarily a page turner.

I saw this in the library and as a person who just adopted a puppy, I wanted to see what this "new world" was all about.

The last time there was a puppy in my house, I was 9 years old and was definitely NOT a financial contributor to my house. I also didn't buy anything for my dog, who was incredibly content with her hot pink squeaky newspaper toy (one that did not contain treats or bounce around all crazy like or help her anxiety or anything "new world" like that.)

May 21, 2013 Peacegal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What does it mean to be a dog owner in the new millennium? Author Michael Schaffer examines the brave new canine world in a book that is at turns humorous, scholarly, and thought-provoking.

Schaffer has not set out to mock “pet parents”—the preferred new term—in fact, he has a “furbaby” of his own—a rescued St. Bernard named Murphy. While the author is not scheduling blueberry facials for his pooch at high-end urban spas—one of the many pet services he profiles—he does consider him a member of t
Jul 07, 2011 Kennedy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My name is kenpen. I am a crazy dog person.

This book seemed very fitting. One Nation Under Dog is about the rise of the pet as a family member and the corresponding rise in the amount of money that is spent on pets.

My family (me, my husband, two bassets, and a cat) certainly fits within the average family in terms of pets in contemporary society. My dogs are my kids. They sleep in the bed with me. I tell them bless you when they sneeze. We buy them expensive quality dog food.

Nothing in One Natio
Oct 23, 2015 Jami rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dog-books
Yes, I took my time reading this. It's not because it wasn't interesting. It was filled with lots of great stories about our fascination and sometime obsession with our four-legged friends. It took me so long because the way this book is set up, it is easy to put the book down for a few days, or months, and pick it back up again. Though I don't agree with everything Schaffer says, it is enlightening looking back at how our dog's role has grown over the years. From being kept on leads in the back ...more
John Kues
The author goes to great lengths to research the information for his book. It seems he will travel anywhere to get all viewpoints on his subjects. I enjoy his writing, but I was expecting more humor and more about his own pets. He does not look down on those who pamper their pets endlessly, rather he gathers data on how much things change over time, and how explosively we have spent on our pets. He talks to trainers with differing methods, San Francisco dog parks vs environmental opponents, vari ...more
Apr 29, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This a great, entertaining, touching, thought provoking book, whether or not you are a pet person. It takes a look at the changing role of pets in America and what that might say about our culture, but it does while talking about the ins and outs of dog culture in this country. Its fascinating, funny, at points it made me cry,its just a super engaging read. Now I am a dog "mom" like the author I never wanted to be one of "those people" but I am a bit neurotic about my dog and I know my husband t ...more
Amber Polo
Dec 15, 2012 Amber Polo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research, dogs
Entertaining without being self-righteous. Schaffer discusses significant and fascinating issues: puppy mills, dog-fighting, pet food deaths, and yuppie puppy high end services. He sounds like a concerned and confused pet owner researching the world of pet economics and culture. It was refreshing to hear about groups like Training Wheels and Lug Nuts working to prevent the solve problems before dogs need rescue.

Personally, I wonder if the huge numbers of rescue dog supporters have given up on ed
Ann Rufo
Aug 05, 2009 Ann Rufo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Schaffer's book starts with one simple premise: how did we become a society so obssessed with our dogs? Exploring different areas of dog life in each chapter from dog parks to puppy mills, he ultimately argues that we have reached a point in time where our dogs and cats have moved from the status of pet to the status of child, or, as he calls it, fur-child. It's not any type of exhaustive expose, or treatise on the socioeconomic factors leading to a paradigm shift in dog-human relations, ...more
Jan 17, 2010 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lauren by: NPR
Shelves: doggies, read-2010
Very interesting read. I have been looking for a book like Schaffer's for a while. Where the focus explores our modern experiences as dog owners and what that is saying about ourselves and our society. As a dog owner, I found Schaffer's in-depth look into the balloning, obsessive world of pet ownership eye-opening. Having just spent an insane amount of money on my own dog's health, the chapter about vet health care was not surprising. It helped me put into perspective where I stood as a pet-owne ...more
Deborah Joyner
Jul 12, 2009 Deborah Joyner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Aaron and I, much like the author, were a little surprised at how much of the pet-centric culture reflected in this book was writ small in our own life:

We have the expensive purchase from a breeder who wanted to vet us...
Buying a SUV to tote dog & baby, when we swore we weren't SUV people...
Expensive pet food from a specialty store.
Dog training classes - currently in our second set...
A dog walker/sitter (my co-worker) who mainly is just coming out because we'll be spending a few days in the
Apr 23, 2014 Debra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really disappointed with this book. I love dogs - I have three - and was expecting so much more from this book. Instead, it put me to sleep every time I read three pages. Whatever the reason, I couldn't bear to go further and stopped reading it after 32 pages.
Jul 02, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dog
Found this book at the house where I am house sitting. The jacket did not describe this book properly as I thought it would be more of a novel then just facts and stuff when in fact, it was nearly all facts and figures with just a little story thrown in, but nothing to follow. More like personal anecdotes then anything else, but nothing to follow. It was still a sort of interesting read as it talked about how pets have evolved over the years and what the industry is like now and how much has cha ...more
Susan Krafcheck
It was interesting to read how many Americans spoil their pet. Also, interesting is the amount of money dog owners spend on treats, medical bills, and things to spoil their pets.(sweaters, parties, organic foods, etc.)
Kovak, my American Eskimo, was put down on Valentine's 2010. He lived his life as full as he could--eating a treat a day, Pedigree canned dog food and dry Science Diet. As he became older, he had an occasional pain pill. He walked 3 miles a day up until he was about 15 years old. T
Susan Bazzett-griffith
This was an easy and enjoyable read, but it really just read like a series of Huffpost articles all bundled together because they're about pets. Tons of factual information, and light on stories/sentimentality, even in the bereavement chapter made it less intriguing for me than I thought it would be; however, it is definitely a well-researched tome on all things related to the pet industry in modern America. If you're looking for a great animal read, this is probably not the book for you, but if ...more
This is an interesting journey into the world of pet ownership here in the United States. Author Michael Schaffer immerses himself into the world of canine cuisine, Gucci for dogs, dog grooming contests and even responsible activities for pit-bull owners. Although Schaffer says that he is investigating pet ownership in general, it is really about the dogs. Cats are briefly mentioned on the sidelines, and other pets such as birds, reptiles, and rodents are excluded. Publisher's Weekly called this ...more
Erin Flynn
Jun 02, 2009 Erin Flynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this one up because I am probably the craziest dog person you'll ever meet. Also because I love sociology and reading of sociological studies. Basically this is a fun read if you love dogs, it has tons of facts and interesting observations about how the role of household pet has changed so dramatically in the past few decades, though nothing in the book is ground breaking news or should come as a surprise to anyone who has ever walked into a petsmart. BTW -- I am getting plaster molding ...more
Aug 10, 2012 Allison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pets, own
It was a good overall book. There were a few interesting facts but most of it was information I already knew about the dog world. To me it's good to see dogs becoming more part of the family, however there is the extreme end on the dog fanatic. Where people spend ridiculous amounts of money on a dog purse or stroller, which to me is just silly. I wish it would of went into more of the veterinary section about the modern technology for dogs. It would be interesting to see how much the statistics ...more
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