Get a free audiobook

How Dogs Love Us

A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain
Written by: Gregory Berns
Narrated by: LJ Ganser
Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

The powerful bond between humans and dogs is one that’s uniquely cherished. Loyal, obedient, and affectionate, they are truly “man’s best friend.” But do dogs love us the way we love them? Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns had spent decades using MRI imaging technology to study how the human brain works, but a different question still nagged at him: What is my dog thinking?

After his family adopted Callie, a shy, skinny terrier mix, Berns decided that there was only one way to answer that question - use an MRI machine to scan the dog’s brain. His colleagues dismissed the idea. Everyone knew that dogs needed to be restrained or sedated for MRI scans. But if the military could train dogs to operate calmly in some of the most challenging environments, surely there must be a way to train dogs to sit in an MRI scanner.

With this radical conviction, Berns and his dog would embark on a remarkable journey and be the first to glimpse the inner workings of the canine brain. Painstakingly, the two worked together to overcome the many technical, legal, and behavioral hurdles. Berns’s research offers surprising results on how dogs empathize with human emotions, how they love us, and why dogs and humans share one of the most remarkable friendships in the animal kingdom.

How Dogs Love Us answers the age-old question of dog lovers everywhere and offers profound new evidence that dogs should be treated as we would treat our best human friends: with love, respect, and appreciation for their social and emotional intelligence.

©2013 2013 by (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

“This book’s abundant appeal and value come from following Berns through the challenges of constructing the experiment and especially of training his dog to participate. ‘Like a catcher and pitcher,’ he writes, he and his dog ‘became a team.’ The satisfaction of that relationship perhaps explains why our two species have lived together so long and happily.” ( The Boston Globe)
"A neuroscientist wonders what goes on in the minds of our pet dogs: Do we delude ourselves when we believe that they love us? [ How Dogs Love Us is] a solid introduction to an appealing new area of research." ( Kirkus)
"The book is as much a scientific exploration of how the canine brain might function as it is a deeply personal story about Berns's relationship with dogs as pets and colleagues. Ultimately that connection is what makes the book compelling." ( Scientific American MIND)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
No reviews are available
Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • AMG
  • 2015-11-27

Very slow going

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I am at chapter 9 of the book and we have yet to get to any actual findings. The details of the academic legal bureaucracy are not interesting. Somehow I suspect the publisher encouraged this buildup, but I just want to skip ahead to the science or findings that I hope will materialize. If this were a real book, I would have skipped ahead and be done by now.

What could Gregory Berns have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Cut out a significant level of detail.

What three words best describe LJ Ganser’s voice?

clear
neutral
appropriate

Could you see How Dogs Love Us being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Yes. I could see this happening, but I wouldn't advise anyone to be in it.

Any additional comments?

The extremely poor overdubbing of one of the author's dogs' name is distracting and annoying.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Original Dakota
  • 2015-09-15

took a while to get going

there is a lot of information about how they did the study but to get to the meat of the story you had to get to chapter 20...seems too long to wait to get to the point to me.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Cindy
  • 2015-08-06

misleading title

I love dog stories, but I expected some science from the title, and frankly I still don't know "how dogs love us". The majority of the book was how they got the dogs to go into the scanner.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Rae
  • 2015-12-03

Misleading title

The reality of research spending a lot of time thinking you are making head way to answer your hypothesis, so you push to get the answer only to find that answer elusive. For me this book was disappointing, having had a career in clincal medicine research, I could appreciate the work, however, the title is misleading. This is dry clincical read. Too much like reading articles in medical journals. Entertaining it was not.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Lawrence Parylla
  • 2015-12-02

waste of time

This book spent all its time explaining how they were able to get a dog's head into an MRI scanner, but I never learned how dogs love us. I gave up on listening 1/2 way through this book because it was filled with information about operating an MRI, but did not address the issue of how dogs love us

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Kathleen McDonald
  • 2015-03-20

Way too technical

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The book never told us how dogs love us. It explained over and over how awake dogs were used to map the canine brain.

What could Gregory Berns have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

He wrote the book he set out to write. The title does not explain what the book is about.

Did LJ Ganser do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Yes.

What character would you cut from How Dogs Love Us?

None.

Any additional comments?

I want authors to be clear about their intentions and subject matter.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • karen
  • 2013-11-01

Where is the information?

Would you try another book from Gregory Berns and/or LJ Ganser?

Not likely.

Would you ever listen to anything by Gregory Berns again?

Sure

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

yes

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment

Any additional comments?

This book totally lacked substance. Misleading in title and description. The majority of the weak story was about preparing for and testing. After hours of listening it sounded as if the story was finally getting to the topic expected and there was less than 20 minutes left of the book. Very disappointing.

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Karina K.
  • 2014-10-10

Very scientific but very interesting

What did you love best about How Dogs Love Us?

I love the passion the author has for his dogs and the passion for science. Only true dog people, not to be mistaken with dog owners, would understand why he did what he did.

Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

As a RN with 5 years of Neurology experience, it was easy. I am sure that if you know nothing about radiology or neuroscience, it will be a little hard to follow.
I know that because my husband was a little (a lot) lost.

Which scene was your favorite?

Kelly chasing the ducks by the river and when she cuddled with the author (awwwww).

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I would not make a film about this book. Unless the movie was for Vet, Radiology or Neuroscience students.

Any additional comments?

If you are not into medical terminology and scientific studies, skip to chapter 23. Before that, the content is 90% study. VERY INTERESTING but, if you are looking for a mushy confy book, skip to chapter 24.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Douglas
  • 2015-05-14

First off...

it must be said that this is an interesting book, and it does render some insight into the similarities--and dissimilarities--of animal neurology to our own. It should be read along with Temple Grandin's Animals Make Us Human and anything by Marc Beckoff, especially his The Emotional Lives Of Animals... Now, that said, know that the author is coming in from the point of view of neurology, and he does some question begging, particularly in regard to the assumption that neurology can "find" emotions--let alone love! Sure we can see that areas of the brain are at work at certain times--dogs feel pleasure when we pet them or show them affection--and it is beyond a doubt that animals have emotions. But to make the assertion that their much less developed brains have the same complicated feelings and thoughts that we call "love" is a mighty big leap. As animals have much less frontal cortex than we do and function much more out of the limbic system, I figure it one of two ways: 1) animals cannot contemplate their emotions the same as we do, and thus cannot feel something we call "love" OR 2) since animals can't rationalize their emotions or override them as easily as we do, they actually feel MORE DEEPLY than a human can. Now, which it is is anyone's guess, but an MRI alone is not going to do it. Enjoy this book. There is some very valuable science and some real insight here, but do take its final assumptions with a grain of kibble.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Elisabeth Carey
  • 2019-08-11

Dog research dog lovers will enjoy

Gregory Berns loves dogs. So does the rest of his family, but he's the neuroscientist, He decided he wanted to know if his dogs really loved him, and if he could determine how and why.

This led inevitably to training the newest addition to their family of six (two adults, two daughters, two dogs) a terrier mix they named Callie, to enter an MRI, assume a scannable position, and remain motionless for long enough intervals for useful brain scans.

Just getting the necessary permissions and approvals to bring pet dogs, rather than "purpose-bred dogs," mostly beagles bred only to be lab animals, into the lab or even onto Emory University property, was a challenge. There are good reasons, for many kinds of research, for using purpose-bred animals, including dogs. It's not the best choice in every case, though, and for at least thirty years the trend has been to eliminate research animals altogether whenever there are alternatives that give good results. Real alternatives to animal haven't yet reached to point of making lab animals completely unnecessary, but the need has been dramatically reduced over the course of my working life.

And while this particular research project necessarily involved real dogs, there was no need at all for them to be purpose-bred lab animals. Pet dogs calm enough to be trained for the MRI tests were arguably a better choice, because they would have a more normal relationship with humans, and that's what "the dog project" was all about.

So Berns kept pushing, and inventing work-arounds for the demands of the research office and the legal office, and got his project approved.

Then came figuring out to train his own terrier mix, Callie, and a border collie, McKenzie, to accept the MRI, the noise of the MRI, and keeping still in the correct position for the scans. All this just to get to the proof of concept stage, proving they could do useful MRI scans on animals as different from the normal MRI subjects (humans and other primates) as dogs are.

And it's unexpectedly fun to read this section, before they ever get to the tests they want--can they tell from brain scans whether dogs actually like humans, and not just the fact that we're a reliable source of food and toys?

It's a great account, further enlivened by Callie herself, the Berns family, and the other Berns dogs, both Lyra the Golden retriever they had at the same time as Callie, and the pugs, especially Newton, who preceded them. And yet, that leads to the one part of this book that bothered me.

The other standout personality here besides Callie, is Newton. Pugs are generally happy, affectionate personalities, really great companion dogs. Except, of course, for the fact that their skulls are so short and their faces so flat that often they can't breathe properly. The snorting, the snuffling, the snoring, that many people, including Gregory Berns, think is so cute, is in fact a sign of a dog who is suffering from not breathing properly. It's not fun to breathe that badly. It's exhausting, compromises sleep, is at best uncomfortable and often painful.

This is something that can be avoided, or at least greatly minimized, by being really careful in selecting a breeder to get your dog from. But the Berns family prefers to adopt from shelters, which is good and much to be encouraged--but if you adopt pug or another brachcephalic dog from a shelter or rescue, and you have, like the Berns family, an at least upper middle class income, you should be asking your vet, first thing, whether a soft palette resection is right for your dog. If your dog is one of the dogs of this type that has significant difficulty breathing, and you have the resources, you should be talking to your vet about whether your dog can be helped. It may not be possible in every case, but when, like Gregory Berns, you know that "cute" snorting and snoring is in fact very hard on your dog, you ought to at least talk to your vet about possible help for the problem. And yet Berns, who clearly really loves his dogs, and who tells us that Newton couldn't breathe properly and it was a problem for the poor dog, never mentions talking to the vet about it.

I really do feel that even if Newton couldn't be helped, Berns could have devoted a paragraph to telling people that the snorting and snoring isn't cute, and that if they have the means they should at least talk to their vet about it. He doesn't.

And yet.

This is a really good book about research that any dog lover will love.

I should, in fairness, warn those who need to know that yes, dogs, including Newton and later Lyra, the Golden retriever, do die during the book. But these are the deaths at a reasonable age of dogs who were loved and happy members of their family. They're not awful tragedies that come out of nowhere to smack you in the face for the sake of extracting emotion from you.

And yes, you will love the research and its results.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.