Humans and canines have been cohabitating for centuries, straddling a boundary that allows us to live together within and across our species. In this empathetic volume, author Dave Dempsey explores this life on the border, the overlapping planes between humans and the nonhuman world that lead to both magnificent creation and appalling destruction. Dempsey’s forty-year career as an environmentalist gives this book a nuanced context that could only be afforded by someone who has lived a half-wild existence himself, both defending and expanding the range of protections afforded to other species. As the former environmental advisor to Michigan Governor James J. Blanchard, Dempsey’s recollections also provide a unique perspective on the history of environmental policy, ruminating on how such policy reflects the way we understand ourselves in relation to the environment. Through vignettes that recall personal stories and those that outline historical events that influenced policymaking, Dempsey calls attention to the philosophical question of how we as humans relate to animals and our environment.
Dave Dempsey has not only worked to preserve and protect the wild, he has loved it, felt it, and lived it. He shares in this book a deep sense of knowing that reaches well beyond mere understanding, relating experiences and insights gathered from forty years in conservation advocacy and environmental policy—and more than forty years of walks through forests and along lakes, rivers, and streams, often with his beloved dogs as companions. Beautifully articulated, with knowledge, feeling and history: a must-read for newcomers and veterans alike in environmental policy and conservation.
—Thomas C. Bailey, retired executive director of the Little Traverse Conservancy, and author of A North Country Almanac: Reflections of an Old-School Conservationist in a Modern World
The wise, instructive, lyrical essays in Half Wild: People, Dogs, and Environmental Policy make for very fine company indeed.
—Alison Swan, author of A Fine Canopy
Gentle, profound. In Half Wild, we walk with Dave Dempsey and his beloved canine kin, through their joys exploring mysterious lands and waters of the Great Lakes, and through decades of environmental challenges and advocacy. Part memoir, part environmental studies, part profiles in courage and commitment, this volume by one of our most acclaimed Great Lakes advocates interweaves the lessons of history with deeper lessons of the heart.
—Lynne Heasley, author of The Accidental Reef and Other Ecological Odysseys in the Great Lakes