“Informative, entertaining . . . [A] terrific book.”—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
When Michael Schaffer and his wife drove to a rural animal shelter and adopted Murphy, a mistreated Saint Bernard, they vowed that they’d never become the kind of people who, say, get their dog a facial treatment. But then they started to get weird looks from the in-laws: You hired a trainer? Murphy is on antidepressants?
It turned out Murphy wasn’t alone: yesteryear’s pooch has moved from the backyard doghouse to the master bedroom, evolving from man’s best friend to bona fide family member. One Nation Under Dog is the beloved chronicle of this new world of American pet mania.
Schaffer, guided on occasion by Murphy, provides a surprising, lively, and often hilarious portrait of our country—how the way we treat our pets reflects evolving ideas about everything from science and consumerism, to politics and family—through this fabulously reported and sympathetic look at both us and our animals.
From Doghouse to Our House
By the time we finally saw Murphy, we’d driven the two hours of highway from our house in Philadelphia to what felt like the last rural place in all of New Jersey. We’d nosed through the town—over a pair of railroad tracks, past a warehouse, down a short road. And we’d gingerly tiptoed past the chain-link fence that held Boss, the massive Saint Bernard at the shotgun-style home opposite the town’s small-scale animal shelter. My wife spotted him first, an oddly undersized example of the same breed running around the
"In a finely tuned voice full of wit and grace, Michael Schaffer takes an incredibly smart look at an important cultural phenomenon that too often is dismissed as a four-legged sideshow. I couldn't stop reading, except to repeat to whoever was around some stunning fact or anecdote about Fur Baby America. If you want to understand how we live now, One Nation Under Dog is essential reading."—Benjamin Wallace, author of The Billionaire’s Vinegar
"One Nation Under Dog is a masterwork of comic sociology: The pooch set has found its Max Weber. With witty analysis, great storytelling and a generous spirit, Schaffer has done more than provide a window into our dog obsession; he has provided a portrait of American life."—Franklin Foer, author of How Soccer Explains the World