• U.S.

Animals: City Dogs

2 minute read

Hardly one fox terrier owner in ten knows that the historic mission of his dog is to chase foxes down their holes, kill them and bring out the bodies. Nowadays not one fox terrier in a hundred does his traditional job. Reason: most dogs live in the city, have neither the time, training nor inclination for hunting. Because they consider that the dog has been deprived of his natural occupation, anti-city dog leaguers regularly raise a cry of cruelty. But in a new book on bringing up dogs,* Dr. James R. Kinney, chief veterinarian of Manhattan’s famed Ellin Prince Speyer Hospital for Animals, burst their argument’s bubble. He pointed out that dogs have become the most domesticated and civilized of animals; that unless man teaches them the tricks they seldom revert to their ancient habits in the country or out; that since dogs receive better care and more attention in the city, it is a better place for them to live.

Written in collaboration with Ann Honeycutt McKelway, ex-wife of the New Yorker’s Editor St. Clair McKelway, the book takes a crack at almost every other amateur theory and legend about dogs, their likes & dislikes, habits and diseases. Because the authors have a sense of humor, the book manages to get across painlessly a good many answers to such questions as how to get a dog and how to feed, train and take care of him once you do. Some sound advice for city dog-owners: never buy a grown dog; never put a puppy on the street until he is four months old; groom, feed and walk your dog regularly; don’t let him associate with other dogs about whose family background and private life you are in the dark.

To do the illustrations, Mrs. McKelway got one of her ex-husband’s colleagues, James Thurber, who himself looks some-what like a collie, with a strain of English sheep dog. His familiar, frustrated drawings aim less at anatomical correctness than at psychological accuracy.

* How TO RAISE A DOG: IN THE CITY . . . IN THE SUBURBS—Simon & Schuster ($2).

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com