History Gone to the Dogs

Do dogs have history? In his book The Pawprints of History, psychologist Stanely Coren raises the question. According to this New Yorker review, dogs have a colorful place in history: in the 30-year reign of shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, born in the Year of the Dog (1646), between 60,000 and 200,000 people were put to death or exiled for violating the Laws of Compassion, which protected dogs from abuse, death, or even being ignored. Coren includes other examples: Columbus brought dogs with him to the Americas because he believed one dog to be more effective than 50 soldiers in killing natives; dogs saved the lives of Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Lincoln, Lewis and Clark, to name a few; the Church of England might not have been had Cardinal Wolsey's greyhound not bitten the pope's foot--thus severing relations between the annulment-seeking Henry VIII and the Catholic church; etc. Whether dogs have history of their own or not isn't, to me, the question. Clearly they've left their prints all over ours.

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