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'The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving': The Hero Of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's New Book (PHOTOS)

Posted: 10/04/10 09:00 AM ET

In 1997 I wrote a New York Times bestseller called "Dogs Never Lie About Love." Yes, the title is a bit dorky, but it struck a nerve and sold over a million copies. Since then I have never stopped thinking about dogs and love. Some dogs just exude love the way teenagers exude defiance. Case in point is my dog, Benjy, the "hero" of my new book "The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving."

That's him all right. Colossal failure as a guide dog for the blind ("just doesn't want to work, but a real sweetheart"); and (just between you and me) not the brightest dog I have known. He couldn't figure out how to be a seizure alert dog in spite of a trainer who loved him to bits. He flunked the exam to be a therapy dog (visiting old people on a dementia unit), but the trainer took pity on him and let him pass.

But there is one trait in which Benjy excels: this dog knows nothing but loving. He can't help it. He loves other dogs, and every human he ever meets, and our pet rat, and all four of our cats, and birds he meets on the beach, and rabbits, and especially, most visibly and most emphatically, children. You can see that in the pictures. Dogs' faces are not as expressive as those of primates, including us. So sometimes he looks sad. But like all dogs, he has learned to express his pleasure in ways we cannot mistake. He rolls on the floor and lets his tongue hang out; he makes a great imitation of a human smile; his tail practically dents our floor; he gives mini howls of happiness. In short, he is: the dog who simply could not stop loving. That is why I felt impelled to write yet another book in praise of this dog, and of dogs in general, and to make yet one more attempt to get closer to the mystery of love, which seems to be embedded in the hearts of dogs.

Dogs Are Us
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Humans and dogs evolved together as two species who came to depend on one another. There is controversy about whether dogs have been with us for the past 120,000 years or just for 15,000 years. Whatever the number, dogs have lived with us far longer than any other domesticated animal or even domesticated plant. Small wonder that we have so much in common.
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