Picks of the litter: Katz, dogs and more books for animal lovers

By John Hoover

About 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, a human and a wolf decided to enter into a beneficial partnership (most likely for purposes of hunting) and thus began our species’ relationship with animals. Shortly after the canines, sheep, cats, goats, pigs, cattle and other animals were domesticated.

jon katzEach year, pet owners across the United States spend some $55 billion on their pets, a part of which is spent on books that help people understand their pets, assist in training and provide information that helps maintain the health of their companions. There are also many stories written about pet behaviors, sometimes heroic and sometimes humorous. This month’s column highlights what we here at Misty Valley Books consider to be some of the best books about pets and animals.

For our pet column Lynne says, “Jon Katz has always been a favorite author and I knew about his real-life border collie, Rose. His novel, Rose in a Storm ($14), made me a fan of Rose — and border collies — forever. I now understand, through a dog’s eyes, how loyal, courageous, and smart these dogs are.”

art of racing in the rainBill’s choice is The Art of Racing in the Rain ($14.99) by Garth Stein and he begins his review with a quote from the book: “Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature. And while I occasionally step over the line and into the world of the melodramatic, it is what I must do in order to communicate clearly and effectively.” Bill continues saying, “That’s Enzo talking, the lab-terrier mix who is the narrator and real hero of The Art of Racing in the Rain, nominally by Garth Stein.  It is the most wonderful book about an animal I have ever read, and that includes Winnie the Pooh ($6.99), by A.A. Milne, although that’s a close second.”

art of raising puppyAmanda relates her experience with a family decision to bring a pet into their home. “Several years ago, we contemplated the addition of a puppy to our household. Two books that provided essential information and guidance were The Art of Raising a Puppy ($25.99), by the Monks of New Skete and How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With ($14.95) by C. Rutherford and D. Nell.

“These comprehensive volumes proved essential to us as we prepared to welcome a pet into the household. (I don’t have the heart to point out that we had to return the puppy to the breeder because both Bill and Katie quickly developed allergies to the “non-allergenic” puppy. It was heartbreaking – but the guides were good nonetheless!)”

How to raise a puppy you can liveSparkySparky! ($16.99), by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Chris Appelhans is Jory’s selection. “When our narrator orders a pet in the mail, the sloth that appears doesn’t do any of the tricks that the owner is hoping. However, Sparky still has an irresistible charm! Beautifully illustrated, this is one of my favorite new picture books of this year.”

marley and meKim suggests Marley and Me ($13.95), by John Grogan. “Anyone who has ever owned a dog, knows that – like children – even the best will occasionally misbehave. In Marley’s case, it’s not just ‘occasionally’- it’s constantly! Marley certainly has some deep-seated psychological issues, but is lovable and endearing, and becomes a treasured member of the Grogan household despite his faults. Marley and Me is the often humorous, sometimes tragic story of a dog’s life, as told from the perspective of his much beleaguered owner.

All CreaturesMy choice, All Creatures Great and Small ($15.99), by James Herriot, is not a new book but it is one that entertained me from the very beginning. Filled with anecdotes from Herriot’s life as a veterinarian on the Yorkshire Dales of England, this volume was a pleasure to read. Herriot’s veterinary practice covered small animals and large working animals from many of the dales farms. He followed this first book with three additional ones (the titles of which were all taken from the same Anglican hymn) that provide many hours of pleasurable reading. The stories were also made into a highly successful television series by the BBC.

Keep an eye on The Chester Telegraph next month for our recommendations for books about Vermont.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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