Man Discovers Who Americans Really Are From How We Treat Our Dogs

Written by: Laura Hartle

July 17, 2014

It’s a classic story: boy meets dog, dog meets pet psychic, guy who raises wolves, Cesar Millan, pooper-scooper outlaw, renegade rescuers, giant dogs made of wood- wait, what???


Ok, maybe New York Times Magazine writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis and his pup Casey are not quite your average tale of a boy and his dog, but Casey is no ordinary dog and this was no ordinary road trip. Travels With Casey is an altogether unique breed of dog literature.

I wanted to write a different kind of dog book, one that would explore and celebrate the breadth of human-dog relationships in contemporary life. To do that, I planned to travel across America – the country with the highest rate of dog ownership on this planet – and hang out with as many dogs (and dog- obsessed humans) as I could.

So, a moody Labrador and his endearingly insecure human (“I don’t think my dog likes me very much.”) packed their pack into an RV and traveled 13,000 miles across 32 states to learn more about America’s unique bond with canines and their bond with each other.

We can’t agree on much in our increasingly polarized country, but we tend to find common ground when it comes to our love for canines. What, I wondered, could be learned about modern American life by exploring our relationship to our dogs? How do the ways we treat- or mistreat- our pets help us understand our values?

As with any great road trip, things took some interesting turns. Like the time Benoit stopped for gas on a Navajo Indian Reservation and ended up with an extra passenger!

As if anyone could leave a little darlin’ like Rezzy behind…

And then there was the time that he spent a day rescuing dogs in East St. Louis with Randy Grim of Stray Rescue of St. Louis, a man with a big heart and his own brand of vigilante dog rescue.

Of course, there are more surprises along the way – from dock-jumping contests, to an afternoon with Cesar “Dog Whisperer” Millan, to practicing Doga. Check out a few sneak peeks:

But, whether Benoit is spending time with a “dog massuer” in hippy-dippy San Francisco, navigating the politics of the neurotic New Yorkers (and their equally neurotic dogs) in Tompkins Square Dog Park, mourning the wide-spread abuse of dogs in economically depressed, broken East St. Louis, or seeing his own insecurities reflected in his dog’s actions, each human-canine interaction in Travels With Casey makes something fascinating clear. While we may be a politically and ideologically fractured dog-crazy nation, the way we treat man’s best friend tells us an awful lot about who we really are – for better or for worse.

A lot of books cross this dog-crazy writer’s desk at The BarkPost, but this is definitely one that belongs in your beach bag this summer (along with a frisbee for your pup – duh. 😉 )

Travels With Casey will be available nation-wide on July 22nd. For more information, visit You can find Benoit and his pups on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

All photos courtesy of Benoit Denizet-Louis

Written by: Laura Hartle

July 17, 2014