Alexandra Horowitz, the head scientist at Barnard College’s Dog Cognition Lab, has conducted a longitudinal observational study on the first year of life of a member of Canis lupus familiaris. In other words, like many others, Horowitz got a pandemic puppy. And she paid a lot of attention to that puppy, whom she and her family named Quiddity, or Quid, meaning “essence of.” She chronicles this in “The Year of the Puppy,” a book with an unsurprisingly adorable cover.
Since Horowitz already had two dogs, a cat, and a son, her motivation for getting a puppy is somewhat convincingly presented as being in the service of science. Horowitz has written several popular books about dogs and dog science: “Our Dogs, Ourselves,” “Being a Dog,” and “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.” In her new book, Horowitz’s goal is to think and write about dogs in a way that is distinct from usual pet-related fare about how to teach a puppy not to lunge at children and not to increase your household paper-towel budget. Instead, she aims to try to better understand a young dog, from Day One to day three hundred and sixty-five, as a being in transformation. She wants to write about puppies developmentally.
Even Socrates described the folly of youth in ancient Greece, lamenting: “Youth now love luxury. They have bad manners and contempt for authority.” However, in recent years, commentators have argued that something is distinctly stunted about the development of today’s young adults.
Many have pointed to Millennials and Gen Zers as being uniquely resistant to “growing up.” Some theorists have even suggested that a new developmental stage is needed to account for the fact that youth today are taking longer to reach adulthood and are more reliant on their parents than generations past.
Yet nothing about delaying adulthood and extending adolescence is uniquely modern. Taking more time to come of age is not due to lack of stamina or motivation on the part of today’s youth, as the common narrative proclaims. Delayed adulthood is an expected response to the economic conditions shaping the period when young adults enter the workforce.