Explores the dog's complex and prominent place in our world. Evolving from wild animal to working animal to nearly human member of our social fabric, dogs are now the subject of serious studies concerning pet ownership, evolutionary theory, and even cognitive science. From new insights into what makes dogs so appealing to humans to the health benefits associated with owning a dog, Homans investigates why the human-canine relationship has evolved so rapidly -- how dogs moved into our families, our homes, and sometimes even our beds in the span of a generation, becoming a $53 billion industry in the United States in the process. As dogs take their place as coddled family members and their numbers balloon to over 77 million in the United States alone, it's no surprise that canine culture at large is also undergoing a massive transformation. They are now subject to many of the same questions of rights and ethics as people, and the politics of dogs are more tumultuous and public than ever -- with fierce moral battles raging over kill shelters, puppy mills, and breed standards. Incorporating interviews and research from scientists, activists, breeders, and trainers, this book investigates how dogs have reached this exalted status, and why they hold such fascination for us. With one paw in the animal world and one paw in the human world, it turns out they have much to teach us about love, death, and morality -- and ultimately, in their closeness and difference, about what it means to be human.