‘What the Dog Saw and Other
Adventures’ by Malcolm Glidewell
Do not let this title fool you. It is not one of those “cutsey” books about a dog who assists in solving murder mysteries or about a dog’s opinion regarding its human family.
The first part of the title is actually one of nineteen articles/essays that the author has penned which have formerly appeared in The New Yorker.
Before you are turned off by the idea of reading essays, be assured that they are on a variety of topics that one would find interesting, and in some cases, fascinating.
The essay entitled “What the Dog Saw” heads a section about a man named Cesar Millan who works with difficult dogs. Some have been abused in a former life, but many are confused by their human families who have delivered mixed signals to them.
After observing interaction(s), Millan then makes a “diagnosis” to rectify the situation. He is currently still performing these services; a guest on one of the late night talk shows just recently mentioned having him work with her newly acquired dog.
Some of the essays discuss aspects of American life that we have come to take for granted. One especially interesting one is about Ron Popeil, his background, the methods he uses for developing new products, and also showcases some of the products themselves.
Even if you would not purchase one of Popeil’s products yourself, you would agree that they appeal to many, and he has made a success of marketing them.
A couple of other ubiquitous products featured in an essay each are women’s hair dye and birth control pills.
An interesting fact from the latter: women in modern times have more menstrual periods than they did a couple of generations back. He explains the reasons for that and includes other tidbits of interest on “the pill” as well, including religious issues of one of the men who contributed much to the pill’s development.
Another essay can be a bit frightening — it covers interpretation of various pictures including mammograms, military installations from high above, etc. These are only as effective as the skill of those who are looking at the pictures and making judgments about what they show.
Ladies having mammograms read would prefer that the reader have the utmost skill in interpretation; military interpretations can be crucial, too; for instance, are missile silos or other threatening devices present or not? Negotiations on an international basis often hinge on such important information.
An especially interesting essay discusses why some people “choke” and/or panic in a moment of extreme stress or challenge. Explored are people in several kinds of situations, but quite intriguing is the information about athletes facing a crucial play or game itself.
A thought-provoking essay addresses business issues such as the one showing faults with Enron as a company as well as issues that should have been evident had someone been looking closer.
Another essay addresses homelessness and how it is easier to solve than to manage. That is food for thought.
Several essays deal with issues regarding people’s interaction with other people: the one about hair dye, for instance, discusses the psychology of advertising at length; several discuss behavior of people such as facing a job interviewer, and decisions that an interviewer must make, sometimes on intuition alone; whether criminal profiling is worthwhile; intelligence and how its importance may be misconstrued; and using pit bulls and their bad “rep” as a comparison to generalizations people make about other people.
If you are looking for a read that it is a bit different, give this book a look. You won’t be disappointed.
Sherwood of Charleston, is a retired reading teacher.