Amazing Dogs

JAN BONDESON

Reviewed by Adam Kirsch

All dog owners tend to think their dogs are amazing, just as all parents think their children are above average. But after you’ve read Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, by Jan Bondeson, Rover’s skill at fetching might look a little less impressive. Can your dog carry on a conversation in German, like Don the Talking Dog? Can he multiply large numbers, pick chosen cards out of a deck, or tell time from a watch like Munito, who was known to his Parisian fans in the 1810s as “le Newton de la race canine”?

And let’s not forget the females–like Lola, a second-generation dog prodigy, who came home to her owner one day "in a state of great depression," and tapped out a confession on the alphabet cards she used to communicate: "My honor is gone!" "Fraulein Kindermann understood that she must have enjoyed a short affair with a farmyard dog," Bondeson writes, "who had basely seduced and then left her. She tried to console poor Lola, saying that her broken heart would recover with time, but the pathetic dog responded ‘Only when I die!’ "

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