Pet Books: Last Moment Stocking Stuffers
Written by Steve Dale   


How about a book for your pet loving friends and relatives, or maybe as a present to yourself. Here are some ideas:

Pets Who Want to Kill Themselves “Pets Who Want to Kill Themselves,” by Duncan Birmingham (Three Rivers Press, New York, NY, $10). And Merry Christmas to you too! Isn’t this a festive title for a holiday book? It might be for friends with a warped sense of humor. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, this little stocking stuffer-sized picture book, has captions to describe what some pets are really thinking. A Multipoo in a dress, wearing chic sunglasses saying, “She dresses me ‘cause it’s cheaper than having me spayed.” There’s a bunny dressed as a skunk with the caption, “Is this your not so subtle way of telling me, I stink?” Or the cat wearing a graduation cap saying, “A college degree in this economy? I might as well slit my wrists?”

Christmas is Good “Christmas is Good: Trixie’s Guide to a Happy Holiday” by Trixie Koontz, edited by dad, Dean Koontz (Hyperion Books, New York, NY, 2009; $16.99). This sweet little book will take only about 15 minutes to read. It’s also philosophical. Koontz says, ‘It’s not necessary to spend a fortune on a gift, as long as it tastes like bacon.” The best-selling novelist is donating proceeds to Canine Companions for Independence.

Chow Hounds“Chow Hounds: Wholesome Home Cooking for Your Doggie,” by Eve Adamson (Sterling Innovation, New York, NY, 2009; $12.94). If you’re working hard in the kitchen for the holidays, you might as well whip something up for your doggie (cats will enjoy much of what’s here too). These recipes are easy to follow, and creative. Recipes include Peanut Butter Pooch Bread and Quiche Lassie.

Animal Investigators“Animal Investigators” How the World’s First Wildlife Forensics Lab Is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species,” by Laurel Neme (Scribner, New York, NY, 2009; $25). This book is positively fascinating, at least for fans of all those CSI shows. The name of this book might as well be called CSI Wildlife. Sadly, the illegal pet and wildlife trade is out-of-control. I’ve never before read about anyone having to deal with a walrus crime scene. It’s amazing what science can do. I won’t be surprised if this book becomes the foundation for a TV series on Animal Planet.

Dogs can Sign, Too“Dogs Can Sign, Too: A Breakthrough Method for Teaching Your Dog to Communicate with You,” by Sean Senechal (Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA, 2009; $21.99).

Chimpanzees and gorillas have learned sign language, so why not dogs? While, they don’t have opposable thumbs the physiology to communicate in American Sign Language, according to the author a dog can learn to raise a paw or wiggle a rear end to indicate a “I want to play” or “I don’t want that biscuit, I want my favorite biscuit.” This is a fascinating premise, which has never before been investigated.

Thoughtful Ownerrs, Great Dogs“Thoughtful Owners, Great Dogs: Canine Behavior & Training A Triadic Approach,” by James Akenhead (CCB Publishing, British Columbia, 2009;$19.95). This is the kind of dog trainer who ought to be receiving attention, not only for his 45 years of experience but also for his positive ‘dog friendly’ approach. For example, Akenhead notes communication is key; so often we assume dogs understand what we’re asking of them, but they simply don’t. That’s the reason why they don’t comply, it’s not because they’re being spiteful or want to be dominant. His step-by-step training instructions are practical and easy to follow.

Reaching the Animal Mind“Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About Animals,” by Karen Pryor (Scribner, New York, NY, 2009; $25). Even if you previously haven’t been a fan of clicker training, here is a must read – particularly for those sold on archaic and dominating techniques now popularized by a popular TV dog trainer. It turns out that most zoo staff, and trainers who work with animals for TV, the movies or commercials also use this technology (clicker training) popularized by Pryor, an undeniable dog training legend – and for good reason. From the kleptomaniac dog to the depressed Oscar fish – this book is a wonderfully entertaining and enlightening read! Most important, a light bulb will turn on in your head, helping you to understand the animal mind. 

Happy Dog“Happy Dog: Caring for Your Dog’s Body, Mind and Spirit,” by Bill Rafferty and Jill Cahr (New American Library, New York, NY, 2009; $16). Rafferty was Oprah Winfrey’s dog groomer and a multi-award winner in his field, and Cahr is an enthusiastic dog lover who volunteers at Animal Control in Chicago. For both, it’s a great effort for a first book. No surprise, excellent information on dog grooming. Otherwise, the authors do a particularly thorough job of packing tons of general canine care in just under 390 pages.

©Tribune Media Services, Steve Dale