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Reading: Alexandra Horowitz

David Locke Hall
Alexandra Horowitz

Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell

Tuesday, October 18 at 7:00pm
Alexandra Horowitz, the author of the lively, highly informative New York Times bestselling blockbuster Inside of a Dog, explains how dogs perceive the world through their most spectacular organ—the nose—and how we humans can put our under-used sense of smell to work in surprising ways.

To a dog, there is no such thing as “fresh air.” Every breath of air is loaded with information. In fact, what every dog—the tracking dog, of course, but also the dog lying next to you, snoring, on the couch—knows about the world comes mostly through his nose.

In Being a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz, a research scientist in the field of dog cognition and the author of the runaway bestseller Inside of a Dog, unpacks the mystery of a dog’s worldview as has never been done before.

With her family dogs, Finnegan and Upton, leading the way, Horowitz sets off on a quest to make sense of scents, combining a personal journey of smelling with a tour through the cutting edge and improbable science behind the olfactory powers of the dog. From revealing the spectacular biology of the dog snout, to speaking to other cognitive researchers and smell experts across the country, to visiting detection-dog training centers and even attempting to smell-train her own nose, Horowitz covers the topic of noses—both canine and human—from surprising, novel, and always fascinating angles.

As we come to understand how complex the world around us appears to the canine nose, Horowitz changes our perspective on dogs forever. Readers will finish this book feeling that they have smelled into a fourth dimension—breaking free of human constraints and understanding smell as never before; that they have, however fleetingly, been a dog.


“I'm not entirely certain whether Alexandra Horowitz's Being a Dog has made me want to buy a dog or morph into one—but I do know that it was magical. Horowitz has crafted an utterly engrossing, witty, finely-observed narrative that will make you look at the power of the nose in a wholly new way.”—Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game and Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

"Like a Mary Roach but with a solid scientific background to her credit, Horowitz is a skilled investigative reporter who takes readers into unfamiliar worlds, shares her experiences there, asks probing questions, and makes those worlds come alive. Dog owners curious about the lives of their pets will savor this book, but it deserves a wider audience than just animal lovers.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Horowitz…explores the way dogs experience the world in this rich and absorbing examination of noses and scents…Both dog lovers and pop science readers will want to stick their noses in this book, and they may find themselves using their noses, like Horowitz and dogs everywhere, to experience the world more vividly.”
—Publishers Weekly

Alexandra Horowitz is the author of the bestselling Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know and On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation. She teaches psychology, animal behavior, and canine cognition at Barnard College, Columbia University. In New York City, Alexandra walks with her husband, the writer Ammon Shea, her son, and two large, non-heeling dogs. 
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