Nine of the best new pet books to read this summer
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
Summer reading can be an escape, an education, an entertaining way to while away a few hours or all of the above. If you’re a pet owner, you have an astonishingly wide array of literary pleasures and educational treasures awaiting you during long, lazy days of vacation or simply while you’re waiting for the kids to get out of day camp. The following new releases cover all the bases: mystery, science, photography, behavior and humor.
In “Fear on Four Paws,” book seven in Clea Simon’s Pru Marlowe pet noir series, the animal communicator faces a drugged bear, a ferret who’s not sharing any secrets, her own crabby tabby and a town whose pets are disappearing. Marlowe herself becomes a person of interest in a murder, and a tempting job offer further complicates the situation. Can she identify the killer and return the missing pets to their homes?
Blue cats, big cats, plush cats, silly cats. If your happy place involves looking at pictures of cats, you won’t want to miss professional cat photographer Larry Johnson’s book “Show Cats: Portraits of Fine Felines.” In its pages, more than 180 images depict cats in all their glory: color, eyes, ears, tails, coat type, in motion and more. The accompanying text shares information and insights about the cats themselves and the challenges of photographing them.
If you’d rather see cats trip on ’nip, look for Andrew Marttila’s “Cats On Catnip,” photographic documentation of the silly, bizarre and delightfully unhinged behaviors cats exhibit under the influence of the herb.
How do dogs smell? Frank Rosell set out to answer that question in his book “Secrets of the Snout: The Dog’s Incredible Nose.” He does a terrific job of explaining dogs’ olfactory obsessions as well as exploring the different types of work dogs do, including finding lost pets, search and rescue, and detecting explosives, pests and diseases. Sniff it out.
Ethologist Adam Miklosi brings together anatomy, behavior, biology, evolution and history to present the latest in what we know about dogs. His art- and photography-rich book “The Dog: A Natural History” ranges from the controversies over where and when domestication began to our current dog-loving culture and the attachment between humans and dogs.
Marc Bekoff’s “Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do” is a fine companion to Miklosi and Rosell’s books, bringing the latest science on cognition and emotion to canine personalities, play, marking habits and more, including the eternal question: Why do dogs roll in stinky things?
I must confess, my co-writers Dr. Marty Becker and Mikkel Becker and I are among the contributors to the next book, “From Fearful to Fear Free.” Subtitled “A Positive Program to Free Your Dog from Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias,” it addresses how fear affects the canine brain, types of fears dogs can develop, such as separation anxiety and noise and thunderstorm phobias, and how to use reward-based techniques to reduce or even prevent fear at the veterinary clinic, out in public, on the road and more.
Kids who love animals and want to learn more about animal welfare can’t go wrong with Beth Adelman’s book “Dogs and Cats: Saving Our Precious Pets.” In easy-to-understand language, she addresses pet overpopulation, breed-specific legislation, genetic diversity, declawing and health problems caused by extreme physical characteristics, to name just a few of the important issues to consider when we live with animals. A quiz and suggested research project at the end of each chapter help readers remember what they’ve learned and find out more.
In “Catnip: A Love Story,” Michael Korda’s doodles of his cats’ imaginary lives — reading the newspaper, happy hour at the local pub, a Fourth of July celebration — are a joyful and humorous representation of the love for cats he and his wife shared.