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Anyone with a passing interest in Evolution, the story of Charles Darwin and his fateful voyage to the Galapagos, or the journey that Watson and Crick set out upon that led to the discovery of the Immortal Coil, will have heard of Belyaev and his foxes.

I had read about this man and his multi-decade study that has(the study is ongoing) shown the evolutionary effects that artificially selecting for “tameness” in foxes has caused.  He is a hero in the arena of evolutionary biology, and less importantly, he is someone that I have looked up to as an intellectual role model since the first time I heard about his story.

Imagine my exuberance when I found that his partner, Lyudmila Trut, had collaborated with Lee Alan Dugatkin to tell the entire story of the foxes! Not second hand from Belyaev’s writings or journals, but from the “horse’s mouth” so to speak.

I knew I wanted to devour this book solely for it’s importance to my scientific understanding of evolution and the effects of artificial selection on future generations.

I didn’t expect for the emotional roller coaster ride that this story took me on.  The obstacles that were overcome by this group of people in the face of such foreboding odds is nothing short of miraculous.

This story feels real.  It felt like I was there, in “Pushinka’s House”, as the narrator takes us through the accomplishments of that, particularly special fox. The book is beautifully written in this regard, taking the reader on the journey as if they were there.  I plan on rereading the book tonight and highly recommend that you make this your next literary choice!

25 thoughts on “How to tame a fox (and build a dog) review

  1. Did they continue the study? I thought I read somewhere that they lost funding and they had to discontinue it but maybe they found more money after all. It’s interesting seeing their findings.

    • They came close in the 90’s but, after mrs. Truth wrote a plea that was picked up in American Scientist, they received hundreds of thousands in donations from around the world

  2. Your review has me intrigued. I delved briefly into the evolutionary background of pets, but haven’t gotten very far. This book sounds like a good place to start. The story seems more accessible, unlike Darwin’s “The Origin of Species,” which is a difficult read.

    • This would be a great place to start! I would love to hear your thoughts if you decide to read it!

  3. I did a lot of research on the evolution and history of dogs (and wolves and foxes) when I did the first Talent Hounds documentary on their changing roles in our lives. I saw some info but I bet I would love going deeper in this book.

  4. I do have a real interest in biology and evolution of species. This is not a book that I was aware of, but something I will absolutely have to add to my wish list.

  5. I can’t wait to get this book now! I had read about the basics of the story before, but want to really get in to it now. For those who commented they want to read more about the nature of dogs and the biological perspective, I have just ready 2 books by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger; very good.

  6. This definitely sounds like an interesting read. My sister’s neighbor kept a fox when I was growing up, but I always felt sorry for it. The poor thing was tethered to a tree in the yard with just a few yards of freedom. The poor little thing cried all the time and seemed pretty miserable to me. I don’t think she spent much time with the fox.

  7. I couldn’t see your notes because I don’t have audible or the book but the concept of it sounds rather interesting! From what you wrote above it sounds like it is more personable that what I was originally thinking! I might have to try to find out more about it!

  8. This sounds like such a fascinating book! I put it on Amazon wishlist. Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Always one to devour books, I will most certainly have to check this one out! Thank you for bringing it to my attention I can’t wait to read it.

  10. Always one to devour books, I can’t wait to check this one out! Thank you for bringing it to my attention, I am definitely going to add this to my reading list

  11. I love to learn about new books, especially with something dealing with pets. I am going to check this out based on your review. Thanks!

  12. What an interesting book! I’ll have to check it out! I need some great informational audio books, so I can learn while I’m multitasking 😂

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