With spring flowers come spring pet books. Here are eight new great reads.
Some clearly point out that animals offer more than we understand -- from whales who hug to a cat who predicts death. One book might even lead you into a new career.
1. "Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat"
By Dr. David Rosa (Hyperion, New York, NY, 2010; $23.99). When the author published in the New England Journal of Medicine that a cat in nursing home could predict death, the story was international news.
This is the cat's full tale. A few hours before patients at a nursing facility pass away, Oscar climbs into their beds. It's interesting how grateful family members are for Oscar. If relatives can't make it on time, no patient dies alone; Oscar is there. Being a geriatrician, Rosa also discusses senior care and human geriatric illness; this isn't solely a book about a cat.
2. "Catscapades: True Cat Tales"
By Patricia Fry (Matilija Press, Oja, CA, 2010; $12.95). Lots of nice short stories her about cats - some inspiring, and most will make you smile. There's nothing earth-shattering here, but the book is sweet and easy to read.
3. "Being with Animals: Why We are Obsessed with the Furry, Scaly, Feathered Creatures Who Populate Our World"
By Barbara J. King (Doubleday, New York, NY, 2010; $24.99). Like the pull from a magnet, we're attracted to the wild kingdom. This book begins inside an ancient cave, and King, a biological anthropologist, points out cave paintings of animals. Today, most Americans live with pets.
Why? No one forces anyone to get a dog, pet rabbit, or fish. King's discussions are fascinating, including those on animal theology and how animal lovers support the fact that they also eat meat.
4. "Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras: Understanding the World's Most Intriguing Animals"
By Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (Skyhorse Publishing, New York, NY, 2010; $14.95). This author has a wonderful library under his wing, writing about everything from the emotions of farm animals to why he lives in New Zealand.
If he didn't live in New Zealand, Masson's books are so engaging that he'd be on "The Today Show" with every new release.
Masson writes about an abundance of wild creatures. I love the way he begins the chapter on beetles. "I did not appreciate beetles," he writes. "God does. He made every fifth species on earth a beetle."
Tidbits in the book are fascinating. Masson writes about wild mountain gorillas approaching observing researchers with freckles, then attempting to remove the specks, perhaps thinking they were parasites.
No surprise, Masson writes, fellow primates like chimpanzees and bonobos hug for reassurance, as do meerkats, and it seems that's what humpback whales are doing with their fins wrapped around each other.
5. "Doggy Business 101: A Practical Guide to Starting and Running Your Own Business"
by Darlene Niemeyer (TFH Publishing, Inc., Neptune City, NJ, 2010; $24.95). With the economy putting many people out of work, some dog lovers are starting their own doggy businesses. Check out the possibilities here, from doggy day care to starting your own camp for dogs.
The basics, from creating a business plan to getting financing, are outlined. Just remember, while working with dogs may be great, their owners are not always so easy to please.
6. "Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills"
by Carol Bradley (Howell Book HouseWiley Publishing, Hoboken, NJ, 2010; $25.99). This is the tale of one little dog rescued from a Pennsylvania puppy mill, but also the story of puppy mills in America. A journalist, Bradley approaches the story as news account. There's plenty of emotion, but this is no fantasy. Sadly, puppy mills are very real. How these places are allowed to continue operating, skirting the law, boggles the mind.
7. "Every Dog Has a Gift: True Stories of Dogs Who Bring Hope and Healing Into Our Lives"
by Rachel McPherson with Deborah Mitchell (Tarcher/Penguin, New York, NY, 2010; $23.95). The author is founder and executive director of The Good Dog Foundation, an animal-assisted therapy group.
The book is filled with inspiring stories. It's truly amazing what a wagging tail can do.
8. "Saddled: How a Spirited Reined Me and Set Me Free"
By Susan Richards (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA, 2010; $24). So you're an alcoholic and stuck in an abusive marriage. If you open your heart, maybe a horse can help.
This story could wind up as TV movie. I can hear the promo now: "She thought her life was over, but when she met a horse named Georgia and everything changed." As a memoir, the story is as much about the author as it is about her horse.
Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.
Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at) STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.
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