Bookworm: A dog’s love and tech challenges

Terri Schlichenmeyer
“Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You” author Clive D.L. Wynne, PhD.

“Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You”

  • By Clive D.L. Wynne, PhD
  • c. 2019, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • $28, higher in Canada; 262 pages

You give good treats. Your dog knows that, and he’s happy to take them any time you offer. He’s likewise glad to take you up on that car ride, and that long walk? Hey, thanks, Pal. You give good treats but as you’ll ask yourself when reading “Dog is Love” by Clive D.L. Wynne, Phd, is that why puppy sticks with you?

More:Bookworm: The animals in your life; stuff stories

There’s no doubt about it: dogs are special. Yours, in particular, but sometimes you wonder: does doggo really love you, or are you just a food dispenser? Is it fair to lay a human emotion on a canine?

“Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You” by Clive D.L. Wynne, PhD.

As a scientist, dog-owner, and a self-described skeptic, Wynne needed solid proof that his pooch, Xephos, felt real affection for him. She’s certainly bouncy-crazy when he comes home and she “radiates affection,” but is that love? Or is it talent or intelligence that dogs have, when it comes to humans?

She’s not the smartest dog, Wynne says of his girl, but she seems “to understand people’s communicative intentions.” That’s something shelter dogs learn quickly, as can hand-raised wolves. At times, Xephos’ grasp of words or actions almost seem like some sort of ESP. Was communication proof of affection?

Studies and trials on canine smarts have been done aplenty, but they weren’t enough to convince Wynne that dogs had “special forms of intelligence,” so he began “developing [his] own theory … ”  He learned that dogs care, but sometimes they prefer food to folks. They carry their emotions on both ends of their bodies. Many have accomplished heroic feats but studies famously show that dogs may not be big helpers, though there’s often reasoning for that.  

Maybe our human-canine bond lies in history; humans and wolves hunted together, right? Nope, says Wynne; researchers show that wolves were much more opportunistic. Is canine affection in a dog’s genes? Maybe, but it also strongly depends on the “dog’s life experiences.” Is it how a dog is raised, then? Yes, but…

But does it matter?  Says Wynne, “The essence of dog is love.”

There are two distinct ways of looking at “Dog is Love,” a book that asks, at its core, if you know that your dog loves you.

First: how can you doubt? One look at those eyes, those ears, that wiggle, and most dog owners will agree that this book is superfluous. The answer is yes, paws-down, your dog loves you, even if the level depends on what’s in your hand.

But then, you have to see what author Clive D.L. Wynne has to say. Beware: it’s open-minded, curious, and truth-seeking, with enough conviction to make readers understand why they’re even tackling this topic. Here, what you learn underscores what you know, through fascinating studies, lighthearted personal observations, opinion, and science. In the end, the answer is just as you thought, but you’re left smarter and smiling.

More:Bookworm: Questions of life and death

So, hug your dog (or not; read why), watch his tail (right wag is best), and don’t worry. Puppers + you = forever, and for you, “Dog is Love” gives good treats.

“The Book of Terrifyingly Awesome Technology” author Sean Connolly.

“The Book of Terrifyingly Awesome Technology”

  • By Sean Connolly
  • c. 2019, Workman
  • $15.95, $23.95 Canada; 227 pages

Sometimes, you really need to feel sorry for your grandpa. Back when he was your age, telephones were tethered permanently to the wall. He had to get off the sofa to change the TV channel, and the only computers Grandpa ever heard of were inside warehouses owned by big businesses. You gotta love modern times, right?  And with “The Book of Terrifyingly Awesome Technology” by Sean Connolly, you’ll love everything that comes with it.


You’ve heard about it, probably in school. It stands for Science, Technology, Electronics, Mathematics and in this book, Connolly says he’s going to focus on “the “T” of STEM” to show that it’s cool with “a whiff of danger.”

More:Bookworm: From the bizarre to the empowering

Take, for instance, the fact that scientists have figured out how to make plants grow in space. No big deal, right? Until you know that the plants grow much faster than they do on Earth and well, it’s good (more food for the people on the planet) and maybe bad (what if things “get out of control”?). See the problems, and do an experiment for yourself, by peeking at page 7.

“The Book of Terrifyingly Awesome Technology” by Sean Connolly.

Or how about this: Connolly says that voice-related technology that follows you around is already being used. It’s creepy, but it’s sometimes funny - or is it? What if it was music, rather than ads, or sounds that hurt your ears?

You might already know that there’s danger on the internet, and that extends to WiFi. Connolly explains why, and he offers a couple of scenarios to make you think. He also explains why some people might be “genuinely terrified” by the idea of Virtual Reality, along with a fun experiment.

Is your bedroom wired for everything? Then you’ll want to know why “the Internet of Things” may not be a great idea. Read about why GPS isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Learn how 3-D printing is good and bad. Find out why drones are cool and not-so-cool. And see how lunch in the future might be different than what you saw on your plate today. Bon appétit!

Sometimes, you have to marvel at the speed with which your child adapts and uses technology. It seems as though it’s an extension of her fingers but you know that, like any other good thing, it has its dangers. “The Book of Terrifyingly Awesome Technology” explains some of them.

That, of course, isn’t going to turn your child away from the future; quite the contrary, this book is going to whet his appetite for everything STEM. Author Sean Connolly gives young readers the low-down on high-tech by laying out the good and the cautionary, envisioning the future just a little bit, and then he offers experiments so that older kids can get their hands dirty, (mostly) without adult supervision.

For a child who’s tech-minded, that’s gold; for a kid who’s not so techy, it’s a good way to get her started. Your 9-to-15-year-old will have fun with “The Book of Terrifyingly Awesome Technology” coz it ain’t his Grandpa’s book.

More:Bookworm: History in the making

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.