Honestly, anyone who has ever experienced the exquisite joy of owning a dog already knows inherently what this book tries to tell us empirically: Dogs are far more complicated and intelligent than we ever anticipate them being.
I write “tries to tell us” not because I thought Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods failed in any capacity with their book The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs are Smarter Than You Think. Instead, I think that it’s both an oversimplification to state something so obvious, but also that we are still great lengths away from understanding the depths of these creature’s intellect in any holistic capacity. While this book does take us deeper down the rabbit hole than most, I think the truth is that most people overlook the intellectual capacity of “man’s best friend” because we aren’t looking to them to be furry Einsteins. We want them to wag their tails, woof amiably, lick our faces, and generally just make us smile.
However, it takes a degree of intellectual and emotional depth to comprehend what is expected of them and to deliver in such compelling and completing ways. They come to know us in ways that we don’t quite know ourselves, and how they do it is one of the sweetest, most comforting mysteries of this universe. It’s something we might never fully understand, simply because how could they ever possibly explain it to us? However, this book provides some insights into the observable mental complexities of our canine companions. Again, though, it’s a fine line to walk between fact and supposition when contemplating certain elements of intellect in an animal that can neither confirm nor deny our assumptions. Yes, some things can been empirically proven. The things I want to know? Those are the beautiful mysteries that dogs keep to themselves.
Final Verdict: Interesting book, but not one I feel compelled to add to my library at the moment.