Interested in turning your world from "blasé to rosé"? The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine, featured in today's Times Book Review, chronicles the lives of some pretty lonely folk—lonely, that is, until they are rescued from anomie by some heroic canines. No simple matter of dog being (wo)man's best friend, apparently this creatively titled text establishes a rigorous mathematical framework for evaluating personhood based on doghood. Skeptical? Let's go to the evidence!


Animals seem to hold the souls of their dog sitters, yielding to the inevitable equation: No dog = no soul.

1. It is OK to be euphemistically unattractive and anti-social if you have a dog:

An unconnected group of people who have been nudged into a herd by one another's pets...are striking chiefly in their unremarkableness. Not particularly good at playing with others, they are socialized by four-footed companions that serve as fairy godmothers to these contemporary Cinderellas, who may not clean up too well but still deserve a fair shake.

2. People should be judged based on how much they like dogs:

Simon of the 'crumpled face' seems deserving of sympathy until, late in the game, it is revealed that he detests the baby voices people use with their pets, and privately permits himself the uncharitable thought: 'These people with their dogs, Get a life.'

3. Dogs are at least as interesting/important as sex:

James Thurber and E. B. White undertook a similar project in 1929 with their arch faux self-help book, 'Is Sex Necessary? Or, Why You Feel the Way You Do,' in which they expounded, desire and feminism in the metropolis... The biggest difference is that while the 1929 heroine made parchment lampshades in her spare time, Jody knits. Both creative teams foresaw the same happy ending for this 'biologico-cultural lady,' once she reached maturity: she was 'in a fair way to step placidly into a good old-fashioned marriage when the right man came along.' Only, for Schine, you can tell, the big deal isn't for a woman to find the right man, or vice versa; it's for either, or both, to find the right dog.

[ED: Making lamp shades and knitting must be much more different from each other than one might initially suspect. Make a note of it.]

Either a) get a dog or b) get used to not having a soul. Still unworried? Remember: you will end up striking people with your unremarkableness, your face will crumple and there will be no redemption for your "biologico-cultural" existence!

There are some "dog agnostics" out there who might choose to ignore the forgoing proof (presumably remaining unconvinced that there are dogs), and that's the terrible Catch-22, "for the uninitiated or unsusceptible, it's a dog thing: you wouldn't understand." They will have to wait for the inevitable cinematic translation, Must Love Dogs 2.

Alas, alack; Q.E.D.

The Year of the Dog [NYTBR]