Friday, July 24, 2009

The Rebound Hounds' Summer Reading Suggestions & Book Give Away!

With the dog days of summer officially here, there's no better time to stretch out your paws in a shady spot and enjoy a good book. Here are our summer reading suggestions for dog lovers everywhere:

Since The Bark is our favorite canine magazine, it came as no surprise that we fell head over heels for Dog Is My Co-Pilot: Great Writers On The World's Oldest Friendship, a 2004 book of essays collected by The Bark's editors. The anthology is arranged into four sections - Beginnings, Pack, Lessons, and Passages - and features wonderfully compelling essays by Caroline Knapp, Pam Houston, and Margaret Cho among others. From Stephen Kuusisto's unique and touching account of meeting his guide dog Corky for the first time, to Ann Patchett's lovely ode to her rescue pup Rose, Dog Is My Co-Pilot is the type of book that will keep you up late, happily turning pages.

My one criticism lies with the small group of contributors who chronicled their purchase of dogs from breeders. Alice Walker's essay was (surprisingly) the most offensive to me; even after evoking images of the slave trade and acknowledging that "it didn't feel right to pay money for a living being," Walker went ahead and bought a black Lab puppy anyway. Fortunately, Catherine Ryan Hyde's short story about an Argentine immigrant who opposes his neighbor's treatment of his $2,000 purebred Doberman watchdog, is good enough to compensate for the minority of flawed essays in Dog Is My Co-Pilot.

For the kids in your life (and the young at heart), we recommend How Willy Got His Wheels - the uplifting true story about our paraplegic friend Wheely Willy. After the little Chihuahua is rescued by Deborah Turner, she works tirelessly to help him regain his mobility. How Willy Got His Wheels won the 1998 Best Children's Book Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and has earned rave reviews from parents for teaching empathy and kindness.

We first discovered animal behaviorist Dr. Patricia McConnell on the Public Radio program "Calling All Pets" and have been ardent fans ever since. McConnell is brimming with information and insight, and her brilliant book The Other End of The Leash is a must for anyone who shares their life with dogs. The chapters are organized by senses including sight, sound, and smell with the purpose of explaining the differences between canine perception and human perception. McConnell shares the science behind our differing interpretations of nonverbal cues like eye contact (a show of confidence and affection for us, but a display of aggression for our pups), without being dull or dry. After reading The Other End of The Leash, you'll be amazed by your dog's ability to decode your confusing human body language!

To inspire everyone to delve into some canine-minded reading this summer, we are giving away a copy of Almost Perfect: Disabled Pets And The People Who Love Them. Edited by Mary A. Shafer, Almost Perfect features 11 inspirational true life "tails" about special needs pets. To win your free copy, email us at to share the rescue story of your less than perfect pet. Greta and Dewey will select their favorite entry for the blog and the winner will receive a copy of the book. Ready, set, read!


VickiT said...

Hi Katja,

Once again, I am so honored to see Almost Perfect included in this list of most impressive titles, and offered as a gift for the best rescue story. Can you post some of the rescue story entries you receive, if the authors give permission? I would love to read them!

Vicki Tiernan, co-author of Almost Perfect and mom of cover dog, Ruby

Mary A. Shafer said...

Thanks, Katja, for offering Almost Perfect. Can't wait to see the best story!