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A canine psychologist with a new puppy explores 'how dogs become themselves'

The Year of the Puppy
,Alexandra Horowitz: "The Year of the Puppy"

Lucky puppy, lucky puppy, such a lucky puppy to be adopted by Alexandra Horowitz. What Mr. Rogers was to children, Alexandra Horowitz is to dogs: a wise and patient observer who seeks to intimately know a creature who is fundamentally different from us adult humans.

Horowitz is a canine psychologist — an authority on how dogs perceive the world. But, as she generously admits in her latest book, The Year of the Puppy, there’s plenty she doesn’t know. So, out of professional curiosity and a perverse desire to add a tiny peeing, pooping, biting, barking, yodeling fur-ball to her family — which then already consisted of husband, young son, two mature dogs, and one cat — Horowitz decides to adopt a puppy. And, during the months that follow, she confesses to having regrets.

Speaking as the owner of a beloved, but unexpectedly big rescue mutt with reactivity issues, I wouldn’t trust Horowitz if she didn’t have regrets.

As anyone familiar with Horowitz’s previous books knows, The Year of the Puppy is not a training manual. Indeed, one of the best moments in this book occurs towards the end, where Horowitz, mimicking the notorious certitude of the Cesar Millan school of trainers, offers a list called, “What You Need to Be Prepared for Your Puppy.” Here’s the list, in its entirety:

Writer and dog behavior expert Alexandra Horowitz
Alexandra Horowitz at home with her dog, Quid, who is known for her “ardent enthusiasm” — especially for tennis balls. Credit...Hiroko Masuike / The New York Times
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