The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection between Humans and Dog
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The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection between Humans and Dog

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  266 ratings  ·  71 reviews

There is no question that the dog inhabits a singular position in relation to humans, a position no other animal occupies. But where did this extraordinary bond originate, and what distinguishes it from the way we feel about other animals? And why is it that humans are as important to dogs as they are to us? Jon Franklin set out to find out and ended up spending a decade s

Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2000)
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The author is a journalist who is curious about the evolution of the dog. While I am often skeptical about non-fiction books written by non-specialists, this book provides some very interesting speculations about how and why the dog evolved from the wolf. Jon Franklin's hypothesis is that some wolves became "camp followers". They tried to glean food from the leavings of humans. Women would be on the lookout, and go to the wolves to kill one, and bring it back for food. Obviously, the women would...more
I thought this book would be about the history and domestication of dogs, but it is really more about the author's search to understand his relationship with his dog. It is written by a journalist and has a lot of emotional fluff and very little actual science. I read a little over a third of the book before I gave up. Most of what I had read so far just detailed the author's search, such as going to the library to check out wolf books. Just not enough facts and science for me. Although the writ...more

"Just exactly what is a wolf doing in my parlor?" Science journalist Jon Franklin spends nine interesting CDs (I listened to the audiobook) answering this question in the frame of evolution.

I would have given The Wolf in the Parlor five stars, but IMHO, the book didn't get personal soon enough. Instead of chronicling the history of his employment and laying out his credentials as a science journalist, he would have captivated the reader and hooked us for the ride much earlier if he had begun the...more
This book is absolutely not what I was expecting. Instead of a feel-good, sappy work about mankind's connection to their loyal dogs, The Wolf in the Parlor is a scientific look at the evolution of humans and wolves into the unique and symbiotic relationship we have now. Science journalist Jon Franklin interweaves his personal narrative of getting a puppy late in life with his research into dogs, spanning about twenty years - from when dogs were largely ignored to when wolves became a fad and dog...more
Eh, I was not impressed.

The author's style, while it is probably enjoyable to read when used for short articles, gets tiresome with a book of this length. But the book's length could also be cut down drastically. The material is extremely repetitive, a lot seems like pointless dribble and fluff, and all in all the whole thing just seems like the author's musing and never seems to come to any hard points. He talks about "the wolf in the parlor" and "son of wolf, son of ape" far too much. It's in...more
Jon Franklin's exploration of dog evolution and its ties to human evolution is an interesting read, but while presenting compelling theory is ultimately short on science. Franklin links humans and dogs in a symbiotic relationship that was ultimately responsible for the success of both species , which is plausible based on my own experiences as a dog owner and fits with what facts are available, but, as Franklin himself readily admits, the evidence is thin. After spending the first half of the bo...more
Steve H
I'll steal (or paraphrase) the review of a friend: A leisurely investigation of the co-evolution of dogs and humans. The main point, that humans and dogs are what they are today because of what they were and did for each other about 12,000 years ago, could be told in a relatively short scientific essay. However, Franklin draws out the investigation, sharing with us his history with his own dogs, his career as a science reporter, and his travels to dig deeper into the mystery of origins of dogs.
I enjoyed it, but that might be because I'm a dog person. There were some provocative thoughts, but it wasn't anything earth shattering. The most touching part was probably near the end when the author talks about the death of his family's dog, Charlie. Oh, and the memory of the dog catcher and the puppy -- that was poignant too.

If you're a dog person (which the author contends we all are), then no doubt you'll find something to take away from this easy-to-read and enjoyable book.
Barry Cochran
Although Jon Franklin's website calls him a "New Journalist," this book is really a throwback to a much earlier age, one in which books like _The Origin of Species_ could be both literature *and* science. Those who like their science dry-n-dull, or those who prefer fluff only, will be lost by _The Wolf in the Parlor_, but as both a literary person, and a historian of ideas with a strong interest in science, I found it completely absorbing.
Interesting thoughts on how dogs make us human or how humans have made canines into these furry parasites. Beneath it all we are a symbiotic couple. A bit wordy and memoirist, nothing terribly earth shattering but still a comfortable delve for those of us who want to know why some of us just love dogs. Its in our evolution.
May 07, 2010 Annie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: more than dog lovers, lovers of curiousity (science) & lovers of a good tale,er, tail?
"A Wolf in the Parlor" is about the search for the history of the man/dog connection- REALLY interesting book, well written, in conversational style...I just may be sad to finish it (not something I often say about non-fiction!)
this book had just a little bit too much science for me - these non-fiction slow reads just don't work for me sometimes. also, the author's hypothesis was not presented quickly or clearly enough for me.
I'm amazed that this guy is a Pulitzer-winning journalist. He renders an interesting topic boring due to his tiresome love for his own prose style. Not recommended.
Finally finished this very long and sometimes repetitive treatise on the human/canine relationship. It was good, but as I said....long.
At first I thought Franklin was just taking ages to get to his premise, then I started to realize and appreciate that his premise is in the groundwork that he lays, the seemingly random paths he leads us down in stories about his relationship with the family poodle, Charlie.

He makes an extremely keen, valid point that Dog is so omnipresent in the life of Human, and yet we know nothing, just nothing, about HOW and WHY. And that boggles me beyond all sense. Homo sapiens and Canis familiaris are pr...more
L (Sniffly Kitty)
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Jen Burke
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This book was great.....until the 2nd to last chapter when Mr. Franklin got on a soap box and tried to tell all the readers to only buy pure bred dogs and a couple of other things that I disagreed with - or at least the way he said them. (full disclosure: my family and i rescued a mutt in 2007 and it has been one of the best experiences of my life)

You can tell this guy has a BIG EGO (how else do you explain how & why he wrote in this book on dogs that if only the newspaper industry would hav...more
Jon Franklin is a scientific journalist and that's obviously his strength. He makes some compelling arguments on how dogs and humans have evolved in a symbiotic fashion... dogs watching for danger & reacting with emotion; humans taking the burden of intellectual decision making. A measurable result of this arrangement is that brain size shrank for BOTH species after we found each other (tens of thousands of years ago), while evolutionary success increased. This was because each species could...more
I won this book through the Goodreads first reads program. The title really intrigued me, although the book description was brief so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I must say, however that until the last few chapters the book was not really what I had envisioned. I did enjoy it and ultimately decided that it was 3.5* book, in my opinion.

The cons: There was a lot of science -- scientific facts, scientific evidence, scientific lingo, and for the lay person, it was a tad overdone. I would s...more
I expected this to be a somewhat scientific discussion on the relationship with man and dog, in the vein of Dogs Never Lie About Love: Reflections on the Emotional World of Dogs, but with more information about early man and dog. Unfortunately, that it nothing like this book.

It is very light on scientific fact. There are a few tidbits or observations here, but mostly it's the same stuff we've heard many many times before. I.E. dogs helped domesticate themselves by hanging around human garbage du...more
Melissa McCue
The further into this book you get, the tougher it is to put down. This author looks at why we survived and Neanderthals didn't; why we humans lost 10% of our brains and got smarter; why Protowolves lost 20% of their brains and survived 12,000 years ago, and how they became domesticated dogs. The cool thing is how it's all connected.

Jon Franklin really put in all on the line in this scientific, personal, exploratory book. The few issues I had were the first few chapters were largely personal st...more
While I can't say that I buy every single one of Franklin's arguments (he makes some immense conceptual leaps here), I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book. I loved the all the science, I loved the warm real-life doggie anecdotes, I even loved the speculation. Franklin clearly loves dogs, though he did not start out as a dog-lover. His authorial voice is clear and wryly humorous. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the way dogs and humans interact.
I started this book in January and finally finished it last week. When I started it my corgi, Gryffyn was alive and well. In May he passed due to a reaction to his rabies vaccine. This book helped me understand my love and need for this amazing dog in my life. The author traces the evolution of wolves into dogs and makes an interesting point in how nature and women not men are the factors that shaped this development. I made the mistake of finishing reading this book in the library. I had tears...more
Jayesh Shah

The book is very informative and I learnt a lot about dogs and their relationships with human beings. Unfortunately, the author goes on and on making his points. Too many things are repeated. He could have and should have cut down the size of the book by half which would make it lucid and enjoyable read.

The author mentions that the relations between man and dog began 12, 000 years ago when the last ice age ended. But, he does not explain why it happened then. He also mentions that at about the...more
Donna Zakem
I won and advanced copy of this book from goodreads. I started reading it the day it came!! I was very interested in getting this book, as I love all types of dogs. This book was very informative, and I learned that dogs have been companions to man for almost as long as man has been on this earth. It taught me about different services that these dogs provide to their masters, as well as the benefits these animals have on the health and well being of their companions. "The Wolf in the Parlor" is...more
Brian Glass
This book seems to ramble, so much that I felt I was getting a little frustrated. He doesn't get to "the point" (as I defined it) until about halfway through. However, a main theme is that the subject of the relationship between dogs and humans has gotten so little scientific attention, his ramblings are a testament to his conviction. This is a fascinating book for anyone that has ever had, or wonders about those who have, a dog. It's not a series of "aww look at the brave/cute/smart dog" storie...more
This is an interesting book that combines the story of how author Jon Franklin realizes the close relationship he develops with his dog, Charlie and how it correlates to the evolutionary relationship between humans and dogs.

Franklin explores the scientific evidence (or lack thereof) of how dogs may have evolved to become man's best friend. In the process he also shows how man evolved to become dog's best provider. The historical relationship developed in much different ways and for different re...more
As a recent adopter of a couple of dogs, I was really looking forward to reading this.

I the liked the approach of looking at the relationship between humans and dogs from an evolutionary approach, using what little can be found in the fossil record in support. This was intermixed with the author's personal experiences with dogs, and while this was interesting and Franklin wrote quite eloquently about these experiences, I got more out of the history and theory discussions.

Interesting conclusion,...more
This is quite possibly the most fascinating book I have ever read.
I have looked for a book for a long time that could explain the origins of the bond we humans share with dogs, but this is the only one to do so. It is based on a mixture of scientific facts, philosophy, and suppositions. But whether all the details are true or not is less important than the bigger implications. By learning more about our true evolution as humans, we have the potential to change our entire way of looking at the w...more
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