Disclosure: I received a free copy of What's a Dog For? The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man's Best Friend by John Homans via GoodReads First Reads, courtesy of Penguin Press.
What's a Dog For? is a blend of a touching story about the author's love for his own rescued dog, a Lab mix named Stella, a history of dogs as pets, a lengthy speculation on intelligence and empathy in dogs and other companion animals, and a discussion of the ethics of animal rescue. As it might sound, this mashup of subject matter and attempt to mix personal tales with a somewhat subjective history of dog ownership fails to create a truly cohesive narrative that would satisfy either fans of cute animal stories or those interested in a more factual account of dog and human relationships through time. Despite this, and the owner's obvious personal bias against the purebred "dog fancy," this book will appeal to many dog lovers who can't get enough true-life pet stories and will doubtlessly lap it up.