Winter 2012 Magazine

Pick of the Litter

By Nancy Marano

Book reviews appear in the "Scoop on Animal Books" section of the website. Here is a sampling of books we have enjoyed. Check the reviews page for complete reviews and more books.

Cat Calls: Wonderful Stories and Practical Advice from a Veteran Cat Sitter
Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan
Square One Publishers, 2011, 144pp, $14.95 (pap.)

Thirty-five years ago Jeanne Adlon became the first cat sitter in New York City. Since then, she has seen it all and recounts many of her experiences with the wonderful cats she has cared for over the years. Tips for making cats lives better and for helping people do the best for their furry friends are written with love and fun. Her co-author, Susan Logan, is the editor of Cat Fancy magazine. You will find out about keeping kitties kosher, feeding pampered cats from Waterford goblets or the time John Lennon bought a cat tree from her shop window - cat hair and all. This is an excellent book with good advice written in an interesting way. A portion of the book sales will be donated to animal rescue, rehabilitation and preservation organizations. Excellent gift for cat lovers.

Animals and the Kids Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Hope, Healing, and Compassion
Allen & Linda Anderson
New World Library, 2011, 272pp, $14.95 (pap.)

This heartwarming anthology tells the stories of the bond between animals and kids. These animals all helped the children in the book conquer a problem whether it is the rabbit who helps a foster boy sleep through the night or the golden retriever who surfs in charity events to raise money for children with disabilities or Snazzy, a black pony, who helps a boy learn to talk. Allen and Linda Anderson cofounded Angel Animal Network. A portion of the proceeds from their books is donated to animal shelters and animal welfare organizations.

The Complete Cat's Meow: Everything You Need to Know about Caring for Your Cat
Darlene Arden
Wiley, 2011, 224pp, $19.99 pap.

A wonderful book about how to choose a cat, care for your cat and avoid the pitfalls of cat ownership. (Read our full review of this book and an article about the author).

Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog
Susannah Charleson
Mariner Books, 2011, 320pp, $14.95 (pap.)

Following the Oklahoma City bombing, Charleson saw a picture of a canine handler with his face buried in a search-and-rescue dog's fur. She decided she wanted to be part of that. As a pilot with search experience, she joined a canine team and learned to be a handler. This is the story of the golden retriever puppy named Puzzle who she adopted and trained. It shows the bond that grows between handler and dog as the training deepens from air-scent lessons to a mastery of whole body dialog. As they learn to trust each other in life and death situations, their bond deepens. Charleson's writing is lyrical in her descriptions of terrain and Puzzle's responses to what she is learning. She gives real anecdotes from some of their searches and the emotional roller coaster a dog handler is on searching for lost and possibly dead people. It takes a particular dog and person to be able to do this work but we are all lucky they are out there looking for us. A beautifully written, heart tugging tribute to the work these teams do and ultimately to the depth of the human/canine bond.

Careers for Your Cat
Ann Dziemianowicz (author) and Ann Boyajian (illustrator)
Ten Speed Press, 2010, 96pp, $9.99

Are you ready for some role reversal? Help find the proper career for your cat so Fluffy can get a high-end job and you can catnap all day. Careers for Your Cat provides you with a convenient in-home Meowers-Briggs Career/Personality Test that gives your cat the tools to identify skill-sets that will help him make the correct career choice. This book matches the cat's personality to the proper career just as the Myers-Briggs test does for people. Perhaps your pampered Persian is really an interior decorator at heart. Or maybe your adventurous Abyssinian should be a pilot. Your tuxedo cat might have the soul of an opera star. Find out the answers by establishing your cat's "type" - outgoing or reserved, self-effacing or self-confident, witty or witless. After the personality type is determined, Dziemianowicz provides thirty-four career matches for those types. This book is fun in every way and highly recommended.

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption
Jim Gorant
Gotham Books, 2010, 287pp, $26.00

This is a true crime story and its aftermath. The story alternates between Vick's Bad Newz Kennel dog fighting ring, which cruelly used pit bulls to fight for money, and the rehabilitation of some of the dogs rescued from the premises. Gorant doesn't shrink from the horrible abuse suffered by these dogs but the dogs who were successfully rehabilitated went on to better lives. Some dogs became service dogs, Jonny Justice participates in Paws for Tales, a reading program using dogs to encourage kids and Leo works with cancer patients and troubled teens. While some of this story is difficult to read, it is worth seeing what it takes to rehabilitate a damaged dog and hearing the pleas against the horrors of dog fighting. Well worth your time.

Who Moved My Mouse? A Self-Help Book for Cats (Who Don't Need Any Help)
Dena Harris
Ten Speed Press, 2010, 144pp, $12.99 (pap.)

Based on classic self-help books, Who Moved My Mouse? answers all the questions a self-respecting cat might have on life's most pressing questions - if he didn't already know all the answers. The first section, "A Cat's Conversations with God," covers such puzzles as "Why does 'dog' spelled backward equal 'God'?" "Why do I like catnip so much?" and other necessary information. Quizzes, personality tests and rules for living abound. Check out the rules under "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.But Feel Free to Freak Out Over Anything that Moves Suddenly or without Warning." A great gift for cats and their people providing the cats allow the people to read it.

Nurturing Paws
Lynn C. Johnston, Editor
Whispering Angel Books, 2011, 175pp, $16.95 (pap.)

This collection of 80+ short stories and poems stresses the human/animal bond and the importance of animals in our lives. The story, "Do Not Delete," by Deborah Schildkraut, author of the "Casa Canine" column in each PETroglyphs, shows the beauty of adopting an older dog into your family even when you think you can't and the joy an older dog can bring. Most of the stories deal with an event where having a particular animal has brought joy into the person's life or helped them through an illness or disability. The poems may be humorous, rapturous or sad but all tug at your heart and make the reader see the animal described. Whether the animal is a dog, a cat, a falcon or a calf, all touch the reader. These offerings celebrate the ability animals have to sense our needs and respond in kind. A portion of the proceeds from the book's sale will benefit animal charities.

Naughty No More! Change Unwanted Behaviors through Positive Reinforcement
Marilyn Krieger
BowTie Press, 2011, 160pp, $12.95 (pap.)

If you believe cats can't be trained, you need to read this book. Clicker training, along with other positive reinforcement training techniques, can solve feline behavior problems. Train your cat to stop scratching furniture or dashing out the door. Help make cat introductions without aggression using positive reinforcement. There are good explanations of clicker training and positive reinforcement. The book is beautiful to look at with lavish, color pictures that show you the recommended steps in each training procedure. The author is a nationally recognized cat behaviorist. If your cat is doing something that drives you crazy, try the techniques in this book to correct the problem.

The Natural Vet's Guide to Preventing and Treating Arthritis in Dogs and Cats
Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M.
New World Library, 2011, 256pp, $14.95 (pap.)

Arthritis is one of the most common diseases for older dogs and cats. Dr. Messonnier is one of the world's leading proponents of holistic veterinary medicine. He gives objective advice on how to blend conventional and alternative therapies to significantly enhance your pet's quality of lie. You will find information on acupuncture's role in pain relief, detailed information on nutritional supplements, diet and nutrition tips, exercise and physical therapy ideas as well as the pros and cons of conventional therapies and much more. Dr. Messonnier is the regular holistic pet columnist for the Dallas Morning News and hosts a weekly satellite radio show, Dr. Shawn, The Natural Vet, on Martha Stewart Radio Sirius 112/SM157.

Cat Coming Home
Shirley Rousseau Murphy
William Morrow, 2010, 368pp, $19.99

Put this 17th Joe Grey mystery on your Christmas list for all your cat loving friends. The holidays in Molena Point may not arrive with joy this year because the town is dealing with a series of brutal assaults. A team of criminals is breaking into homes to hide their stalking and brutal attacks of single women. So far the police haven't been able to come up with anything and the cat sleuths, Joe Grey, Dulcie and Kit, haven't called in any tips either. Several new characters arrive in town to make everything more interesting. Maudie Toola and her orphaned grandson, Benny, come back to her childhood home of Molena Point when her son and daughter-in-law are murdered in Los Angeles. She is unaware that the killers have followed them back. Misto, a wise prison cat in town from Soledad Prison, provides the connection between the mysteries. Joe and the gang help solve the crimes by Christmas Eve and find Misto a new home. When you read Murphy's Joe Grey series, you'll understand why she has won so many awards for her books.

Careers with Dogs: The Comprehensive Guide to Finding Your Dream Job
Kim Campbell Thornton
BowTie, Inc., 2011, 488pp, $24.95 (pap.)

Are you thinking of what career you might like to pursue or perhaps reinventing your career path in the current economy? If you are crazy about dogs and think you might like to work with them, this is the book for you. Thornton profiles 120 jobs that involve working with dogs. There is everything from veterinarian, veterinary specialties and vet techs to dog groomer and behaviorist. Maybe you'd like to be a pet massage therapist or a search-and-rescue handler? Dog trainers, animal communicators, humane educators - all are described along with interviews of people doing that job, "barkworthy bites of advice" and "barkworthy tips" to give you a thorough idea of what each of these professions is like. Thornton has authored or co-authored more than 30 books on cats and dogs. This is the ultimate guide to animal professions. While it is written for people who want to work with dogs, much of the advice could apply to those who wish to work with cats, too.

Irreconcilable Differences: The Battle for the Heart and Soul of America's Animal Shelters
Nathan J. Winograd
CreateSpace, 2009, 210pp, $13.95 (pap.)

This is a follow-up to Winograd's controversial book, Redemption, and covers the same themes of the no-kill movement versus those shelters that kill animals as a way of ending animal overpopulation. These essays are thought out and give the basic tenets of the no-kill movement. There is more reasoned argument here and less anger then in Redemption. It is a good overview of this movement for those who are not familiar with it.

Nancy Marano is an award-winning writer who is owned by three cats, Sammy, Callie and Max. Callie and Max are new additions to our family. She is a member of the Cat Writers' Association and Dog Writers of America.

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