Dogs by Mike Loades
I received this book on Saturday and I started reading it straight away. I finished it today, so I can share my thoughts on Dogs by Mike Loades: Working Origins and Traditional Tasks*. In one word I can describe the book as: amazing. No worries, I am going to say more than that.
If you love dogs, you need to buy this book. In the introduction Loades talks about his views on hunting and sled races. These can be controversial topics. He does a very good job of presenting the situation as it is, without judgements, which is what historians should do. I haven’t ate meat in over a decade due to ethical reasons, but I think hunting for food is much less cruel than factory farming, from caged animals to the horrors of transporting animals on the hoof. No animals were killed for producing this book. Loades also talks about pedigree and how breeding for “beauty” made life miserable for some breeds. I agree with that and I wouldn’t get a dog that looks “cute” but has health issues due to how the breed was changed in recent times. At the same time, from my experience, pedigree is a must if you want to have a proper dog with the breed’s characteristics. My Rottweiler is pure breed and it is obvious, not only on how his ears look, but also as temperament. His parents and grandparents (I know 2 of his grandparents) were showed, but also tested for hip dysplasia and went to obedience trials such as BH and IPO.
The books is fantastic. It has over 250 photos, most of them taken by the author or with the author. He experienced first hand how dogs were worked, from sledding to herding to game dogs. I found all the different aspects fascinating, as I was not aware of many of the things he mentions in the book, for example Dalmatians and their history. Besides the gorgeous photos and his hands-on approach, this is a history book too, so there are plenty of primary sources starting from the 16th century. He presents how things changed and why. Also, he went to many different countries to see the dogs, the stories about the Kangals are great. Saluki are mentioned too, with lots of pictures and details about them used for hunting in the Jordanian desert.
Chapters, hence topics, in the book include herding and droving dogs, with details on how these two are so different. He talks about flock guardians, in which Kangals have a very special role. Sled and cart dogs are talked about in quite detail and it contains some gorgeous pictures of Rottweilers (cart dogs), which I loved. Next are carriage dogs, something I was not aware of and the personal story is funny and interesting. Water dogs and game finders are very well presented. Other chapters are about sighthounds, scenthounds, mastiffs, terriers, and, of course, companion dogs. The writing style is great, making it a delight to read.
There are two things that would have made this book better: having 700 pages instead of 350 and a short chapter on modern sports. I am biased about the second issue as I love Mondioring. If you don’t know what is that, check this video on youtube with the Mondioring Belgian Championships 2019. It is a spectacular sport. My dog had a bit of training as a puppy with someone who trains police dogs and does Mondioring for fun. The dog in that video is exceptional, well worth a watch. The book has the subtitle of “traditional tasks”, so this is not something that is actually missing from the book, I just wished I could read more about dogs.
Dogs by Mike Loades
Details about the picture: My dog kindly agreed to model for me. He is 11 and a half.
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: White Owl
Year it was published: 2020
Genre(s): History – Broad subject
About the author: Mike Loades is a television host and presenter, making his appearances as a historical weapons specialist and military historian in over one hundred TV documentaries. He works as a TV director, a writer, and as a consultant and film-maker for the video games industry.
He is a practising horse archer and the founder of the first horse-archery club in California – the California Centaurs.
Loades wrote many interesting books, including: Dogs, Swords and Swordsmen, War Bows.
Website & Social Media Links: mikeloades & Pen and Sword
*I was sent a copy of Dogs by Mike Loades for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.