To fully appreciate "Dog Walks Man: A Six-Legged Odyssey" by John Zeaman, one probably needs to bear in mind the circumstances under which it was conceived and the audience for whom it is most likely intended. John Zeaman is an American urbanite, who through the (initially) imposed necessity of walking a dog has come to realise the plight of the modern conurbation-dweller and the risk the human species runs of losing touch with the world beyond our fabricated and over-sanitised urban environments. Increasingly, what passes for "wild" and "natural" is tamed and anything but natural. "Natural" is increasingly not to be tolerated and is branded as unsafe, unhealthy and undesirable.
"Dog Walks Man" is a cry from the heart for the reversal of this thinking; a plea for mankind to listen more closely to the true wilderness that calls from beyond our asphalted and mowed grass parkland substitutes, and to become more closely attuned to natural events, rhythms and dispositions. The vehicle for Zeaman's own personal enlightenment is the humble daily dog walk; both the routine necessity, and the disposition of the hound itself in this process being cathartic, as well as catalytic in engendering the necessary change of mindset.
If this were all that the book had to offer, however, I doubt that it would ever have made it into print (and is unlikely to have sold, if it had). British readers (and indeed American readers away from the North-Eastern states) would probably be left shaking their heads in sadness or bewilderment. Fortunately, Zeaman is a very sharp observer of all around him and no detail is ever too small for him to find merit in reporting, and no aspect of dog walking as an activity per se strikes him as inconsequential. As a result, the book tempers its bigger concerns with smaller scale observations, both amusing and poignant by turns, almost all of which are guaranteed to bring chuckles of recognition from (and, at times, tears to the eyes of) anyone who has ever known or been around dogs or dog-owners for any time at all.
This is a book that slowly and seductively beguiles, provided that you are prepared to slip into the appropriate mindset to be fully receptive to its message; keep your guard up, however, and you are likely to be lost.