The Lost Pet Chronicles: Adventures of a K-9 Cop Turned Pet Detective

The most frightening thing a veterinarian can say is that your beloved companion animal has cancer. The word hangs in the air, and you don’t even hear the rest of the conversation. As our animals live longer, more of us will face that diagnosis. Deborah Straw’s book, The Healthy Pet Manual, will help you understand what you can do to help your friend live with cancer.

Straw, l an established animal, health and lifestyle writer, lost four pets to cancer. Frustrated at the lack of information she found on what caused the disease and how to make crucial decisions affecting her animals, she wrote her own boo on the subject.

The reader will find a tremendous amount of information in this revised and expanded version of that first book. It helps fill the gap that is left if your veterinarian does not communicate well enough with you about what is happening to your companion animal and what you can do to help. Straw has done extensive research on the causes of the disease, and how it manifests in dogs, cats and other small animals. This includes environmental, dietary, and vaccine-related agents that may cause cancer as well as the preventive measures that can be taken to help ward off this disease in the first place.

If your companion animal has been diagnosed with cancer, this book gives a well-balanced approach to various forms of treatment both conventional and alternative. She covers everything from chemotherapy and laser surgery to herbal treatments, flower essences, touch therapy and the latest in pain relief. Straw doesn’t limit herself to a dry explanation of treatments, though. She explains how to care for a sick companion animal and delves into the grieving process that needs to take place if all the treatments fail and the animal dies. In addition to the excellent material presented in the book Straw gives an in-depth section at the end of the book containing notes and references so the reader can pursue particular points more fully.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has received the diagnosis of cancer for a companion animal or to anyone who is interested in the latest research on animal health issues. The reader will come away feeling that a cancer diagnosis may not be the end of the road for a beloved companion animal. Packed with wisdom and options this book is an excellent basic resource for any animal lover

Amelia Kinkade is passionate about what she believes. That’s for sure. An actress, dancer, artist and animal psychic (and niece of Rue McClanahan, the actress/animal advocate), this young woman (she’s in her early 30s) has written her second book on a controversial field: communicating telepathically with animals. Her first, which I have not yet read, was a how-to for people who want to learn to do it themselves (“Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: How to Talk to Animals and Get Answers”). This book takes it further and presents a multitude of case histories supporting her thesis. And what a thesis that is!

Kinkade manages to meld quantum theory, wave/particle physics, religion, spirituality, reincarnation, and life after death into a not-quite-seamless whole (she’s still working out the details) to explain why it is possible for animals, even insects, to “talk” to us, and vice versa. Her mother is a medical professor, and she clearly has great respect for the role of science in her work. One of her heroes is Edgar Mitchell, a former astronaut and egghead, as well as scientists like Albert Einstein and Nils Bohr. But at the same time, the importance of God, love and positive thinking in successful psychic communication is repeated over and over throughout the book.

Anyone can learn to be psychic, Kinkade claims, but it requires lots of practice and dedication. She includes a number of practices in the book on how to develop the ability to locate lost animals, analyze an animal’s health and behavioral problems, “talk” to both live and dead pets, figure out if a deceased pet has returned to you in the form of a new animal, etc. This book requires a suspension of disbelief and a willingness to go along on her mental rollercoaster ride, but it’s an intriguing read and the author clearly has an agile and original mind.

Kinkade comes out strongly against animal experimentation and wearing fur and includes a chapter describing her animal rights heroes, but I have a problem with her obvious pride in being hired by Buckingham Palace to “talk” with King Charles’s hunting horses to try to discover the source of their discontent. Any animal advocate worth her salt should not be encouraging horses or humans to participate in such a repulsive blood sport, no matter how illustrious they are.

Despite some misgivings, including the fact that so far, I can’t seem to get my dogs and cats to respond to my telepathic chats with them, I enjoyed this book. It occasionally teeters on the brink of mania, cutesiness and breathless idealism and definitely strains credibility, but all in all, it was well worth my investment of time.

f you combine CSI and Animal Planet, you’ll have an idea of Kat Albrecht’s life and work. This is the fascinating story of how a K-9 handler with several California police departments gradually found the path to her true calling – pet detective extraordinaire and founder of Missing Pet Partnership.

Follow the adventures of Sadie, a Wiemaraner, and bloodhounds A.J. and Chase as they track missing persons and pets. If you love animals and are fascinated by sleuthing, this is the book for you. Albrecht was the first to apply the methods she’d learned in police work to the task of finding lost pets. She utilizes behavior profiling and probability theory, among others techniques, as she helps people find lost cats, dogs, turtles, snakes, ferrets and horses. But there are obstacles, too. Try convincing a lab to do DNA tests on a cat whisker or keep people from thinking of you as a comic Ace Ventura type.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book was how tracking dogs do their work. I learned a lot about following scent trails and how long a scent remains viable for a good tracking dog. Her book is also a good resource for what you should do if your pet is lost. She discusses steps you should take to find a lost dog or lost cat. It amazed me to know how close to home most cats stay when they are lost. They might be listening to you call them from under a porch or bush in your own back yard.

Albrecht’s compassion for the people who have lost their beloved companion animal and her sleuthing expertise give hope to her clients and to anyone who reads this book. If you’ve lost a pet, her message to you would be, “Never give up the search.”

The Covenant of the Wild: Why Animals Chose Domestication

A more apt title might be “Human Eat Human” because the dogs in this book are civilized. It’s the people who are vicious. This book is meant to be a light-hearted romp through the wacky world of dog shows, but I found it downright depressing.

Dog show human participants are a strange breed themselves. They seem to look upon dogs as decorative objects born to win them ribbons (and to suffer whatever consequences go along with that). The people involved in dog shows are closely akin to those who drag their kids around the country in order to compete in beauty pageants: cold-blooded, calculating, and often back-stabbingly competitive. Show dogs lead an unnatural, lonely life stuck in a kennel when they’re not on the road in a trailer headed towards the next competition. There might be some merit to it if the contests were honest, but there’s back room politics involved and it seems to have more to do with seducing the judge, putting the right makeup on your dog, or getting a judge that happens to like your dog’s body type or breed than honest competition.

Mimi, the main human character in the book, works at her local animal shelter and visits retirement homes with retired show dogs. So you would think she should know better because of her exposure to the plight of homeless animals. But apparently not. She supposedly loves her dogs, but I suspect she loves them for what they can do for her ego in the show ring. And if they fail, as Rusty did at first, she has no qualms about giving him away to another trainer at very short notice.

The obsessive mating (or artificial inseminating) of so-called “purebreds” (the bullmastiff, the main focus of this book, has been so genetically manipulated that its lifespan is only about nine years) in order to sell puppies to equally obsessed clients who have a “thing” about the look of a certain breed reminds me of the Master Race theories of the Nazis. And considering the huge number of healthy, available dogs in shelters and with rescue groups in this country, it’s insane that breeders continue to produce often physically and psychologically impaired purebreds for the market (as well as to appear on the dog show circuit), especially when you consider the fact that at least 15% of surrendered shelter animals are purebreds.

At one point, frustrated in her attempts to produce a healthy litter, Mimi has a moment of enlightenment: “I am thinking of getting out of this business altogether. Purebred dogs are nothing but heartache. I just want nice mutts from the pound who live forever.” Unfortunately, at the end of the book she doesn’t follow up on this wish.

After a short spell during which he was an assistant professor of animal pathology, the co-director of a diagnostic laboratory for animal diseases, and a researcher on viral diseases, Bernard Wasserman, AB, DVM, turned to the practice of small animal medicine. In 1957 he opened his own small animal hospital in Brooklyn Heights, NYC, and stayed with it for 30 years. The Dog Who Met the Queen & Other Stories tells the tales of those animals and their people who came and went at the Hicks Street clinic.

Not one of the 25 stories that make up this small book failed to hold my attention. From cleaning up birds after an oil spill to treating Truman Capote’s dog, the subjects of the stories are wonderfully diverse. If I had to say something un-glowing, I would say that I would have felt better, as a reader, if Wasserman had arranged the tales in chronological order and if the very first one had not been about animal hoarders. That tragic and important subject was a bit off-putting as an introduction to what was to come. I was tempted not to go on but am glad I did.

For those readers who have vicariously traveled the Yorkshire dales delivering calves in mid-winter or have stooped next to the vet looking for patients under the bed, these tales of running a veterinary practice in the middle of Brooklyn will be a treat. The scenery is different, but the delight in helping people care for their animals and the compassion Wasserman shows for the animals in his care remain the same.

Let me say at the outset that it’s about time a born-again, conservative Christian wrote a pro-animal rights book. Matthew Scully is a former speechwriter for George W. Bush and an ethical vegan of many years’ standing. I recommend this book highly; the riveting chapters on Scully’s close encounters with Safari Club International and the North Carolina pig factories are alone worth the price. But I do have a few problems with it.

One of Scully’s ‘bêtes noires’ is the utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer, who wrote the groundbreaking “Animal Liberation” that defined the animal rights movement. As a Christian, Scully seems to mistakenly believe that, first of all, atheists like Singer have no moral grounding and think life is basically meaningless. The fact that Singer believes we should be kind to animals just because they are sentient and they suffer doesn’t seem to be as important to Scully as their ‘souls’, and the ‘souls’ of the humans dealing with them. And he gratuitously discusses Singer’s controversial ideas about euthanasia of humans, infanticide and the treatment of retarded humans as if to imply that Singer can’t be trusted on animal issues if he holds such views about the treatment of humans. That’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater (so to speak). I could just as unfairly point out that Scully has worked for and admires George W. Bush, who is anti-environment, anti-animal rights, and pro-corporate ranching, and thus Scully should not be trusted to write on animal rights issues.

I also have a problem with Scully’s insinuation that one cannot be pro-choice/abortion as well as an animal advocate without being a hypocrite. I disagree. In my opinion, birth control or abortion for humans and domesticated animals (cats, dogs, etc.), who are overpopulating the planet and severely straining its resources is absolutely vital for the sustainable future of the planet and its residents–all of them, both plant and animal. It’s far more humane to control the number of births and abort unwanted embryos and fetuses than to allow too many humans and domesticated animals to be born, only to suffer or starve because of competition for food (in the case of humans), or (in the case of dogs and cats) to be rounded up and “humanely” euthanized because there are too many of them and not enough homes. Scully apparently does not agree.

Despite my quibbles, I urge everyone interested in animal and environmental issues to read this book. It’s beautifully written, well-researched, thoughtful, and clearly comes from Scully’s heart.

Barkley: A Dog’s Journey

For those of us who’ve had the privilege of sharing our lives with pets, there are usually one or two with whom we bonded more tightly and who will always shine brighter in our memories. LA Times columnist Al Martinez and his wife had that in Barkley, an ebullient Springer Spaniel who was a beloved member of their family for nine years. “Barkley: A Dog’s Journey” documents a 3,000-mile road trip tailor made for Barkley up California and Oregon and back down to LA during a period of remission from the leukemia that killed him prematurely, with philosophical musings, local color, and recollections from the author’s long life thrown in for good measure. Thoughtful and lyrical, it encourages readers to contemplate their own lives and loves, but without being maudlin or indulging in over-sentimentality.

In the final chapter, Mr. Martinez explains that since Barkley’s death, they have not seen fit to replace Barkley with another dog because that would be too difficult. Instead, a feisty cat named Ernie is now attempting to fill some of the vacuum Barkley left behind. So life goes on, and the journey continues. Small book, big message.

When poetry is good it touches your mind and intellect. But, for me, great poetry grabs my heartstrings and emotions. It won’t let me go even when I close the book. That is how I felt after reading Calico Tales…and Others. No cat lover could read this book of poetry without a tear, a laugh and a smile of recognition. The incidents and emotions portrayed in the poems perfectly reflect the personality of cats. The author has captured the playfulness, aloofness, warmth and love cats share with their chosen people. But you get more than graceful, effortless poetry, although that would have been enough. Each poem is balanced by a beautiful black and white photograph showing cats in the mood of the poem. The two together make it an outstanding book. My personal favorite poems were “Jump the Moon,” “Sleeping Cat,” “The Street” and “Flat Out.”

Whether you like poetry or photography or you just love cats, this is a must have book. I know I will look at these photographs and re-read these poems whenever I need to touch the essence of what a cat is all about. This would make a wonderful gift for any cat lover on your list.

Margy Ohring has captured the true essence of cat in this wonderfully touching book of sonnets. Her poems celebrate ordinary events – feeding time, using the litter box, sleeping sitting on a windowsill, or playing with a toy. Yet the reader sees every nuance of the scene in great detail. It would be difficult to pick favorite poems here because each of them works. It is nice to see a classic poetic form used with a modern subject to such good effect. Ohring manages to get inside the minds of the felines she so lovingly describes. I felt I knew the personality of each cat in the book. This is a wonderful achievement that any cat lover would enjoy dipping into frequently when a smile, a laugh or even a tear is needed. Bravo for such a delightful read

Buddy, the pampered, rescue cat who lives indoors, and Jett, the feral who has survived life in the alley, may just look like cats to the average person but in reality their intertwined fate will play out the age-old clash of good vs. evil. They are locked in battle to be the next Cat Master, spiritual leader of all felines. Which one wins is at the heart of this book.

The old Cat Master is dying. He sends out a message, “Rise from the alley, my son. Of all my blood, you are the Chosen.” But his message is telepathically interrupted so Buddy hears only, “Rise from the alley…” The feline world plunges into darkness waiting for the next leader.

Buddy was badly hurt, when The Boy found him and nursed him back to health. Now Buddy lives the life of an Indoor with two other cats, Pris and Zekki. They are young and look up to Buddy for training and guidance. Buddy is haunted by the message that keeps playing over in his mind, “Rise from the alley…” and the arrival of Jett in his yard. Even though he doesn’t want to leave The Boy, he knows he must return to the alley to meet his fate. He warns Zekki and Pris to stay indoors where they are safe. But, like most cats, who are burdened with endless curiosity, they don’t listen and wander out the front door instead. Jett lures them into the dangerous world of the Outs where they become bait in his trap to lure Buddy into his web.

It takes the help of five cats, two dogs, a lizard, a possum and a mockingbird for Buddy to fulfill his mission. Of all the minor characters, Orie, the lizard, is the most satisfying. His actions turn him from a timid lizard into a lizard who is special indeed. The heroic German Sheperd, Tenba, continuously demonstrates the courageous loyalty of her breed.

Pemberton uses exciting, vivid descriptions to describe the animals, their surroundings and the perils they face on their adventures. Some of the fight scenes are filled with gore leading to death, which might be a bit strong for younger readers. But Pemberton depicts the bonding of animal to animal and animal to human beautifully. When I finished, I felt I these characters were part of my family.

I would recommend this book for older children and adults. Pemberton gets into the animal mind and gives her readers access to the mysterious feline world.

The Adventures of Bro & Tracy

If you love dogs and you love the Southwest, this is a must have book. Joyce Fay,a professional photographer, has a love affair with dogs and the stark beauty of the Southwest, which she demonstrates in every picture. It would be difficult for me to pick my favorite picture in this lovely book, but the ones of Bro and Tracy in a tree in Monument Valley and in the Painted Desert would be high on my list. Beyond the gorgeous photographs of her dogs playing, climbing trees, sitting on stools at a restaurant, and enjoying the farolitos on Christmas Eve in Old Town, Fay gives sound advice on traveling with your dogs and just having fun. As she says, “Climbing trees wasn’t the goal. It was the accidental result of the relationship, a relationship that involves having fun, communicating, traveling and enjoying dogs.” Her love of dogs led her to found the Bro and Tracy Animal Welfare, which fosters and gives hope to homeless dogs. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book go to Bro and Tracy Animal Welfare to support their work. If you can’t get enough of the pictures, some of the photographs are available on greeting cards through the web site. This would be a wonderful gift book for all your dog-loving friends.

Allergic reactions to animals are one of the main reasons that animals are relinquished to shelters. But now there Is hope for all of you who love animals but sneeze at the thought of being in the same room with a cat for more than two seconds. This small book is a “must read” for anyone who suffers from pet allergies.

Kalstone is thorough in discussing what allergies are and what causes them. By the end of that section I was sneezing. Then she deals with various popular pets and explains what causes a person to be allergic to them. The main animals she covers are cats, dogs, birds and horses. But she also devotes space to rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, chinchillas, mice, rats and ferrets. She provides tips for minimizing the allergens in your home and office as well as giving the latest information on what doctors have in their arsenals to help allergy sufferers. Kalstone suffers from allergies herself, but it hasn’t kept her from having many animals in her life.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves animals but is afraid to adopt a pet because of allergies. Kalstone give advice, explanations and easily followed tips for dealing with your allergy symptoms. A wealth of information in a small package. Everyone needs this book either for himself or for a friend.

I have a real problems with this book and with Temple Grandin, a designer of humane handling facilities for livestock and Colorado State Professor who sees herself as an animal advocate. For decades she has been trying to straddle the vast divide between agribusiness and animal advocacy, and as a result, in my opinion, she’s made life easier for factory farmers and worse for farmed animals. She’s improved living and dying conditions for the victims of factory farming (the animals) at the expense of allowing the industry to feel less guilty and increase its profits, thus perpetuating a system that has wreaked havoc on the environment, on human health, on slaughterhouse workers, as well as on the animals who are imprisoned and murdered by the millions every year to keep it all going. It is irresponsible of Grandin, if she really considers herself an animal advocate, to enable a system that is so harmful on so many levels.

On the last page of her book, she reflects on her career choice:

“After I developed my center-track restraining system, I remember looking out over the cattle yard at the hundreds and hundreds of animals milling around in their corrals. I was upset that I had just designed a really efficient slaughter plant. . . . Cows are the animals I love best. Looking at those animals I realized that none of them would even exist if human beings hadn’t bred them into being.” (!)

So in other words, bioengineered animals should be grateful to humans for their existence, even if it’s a miserable and short one ending in slaughter? I find that a strange rationale.

In the area of pets, although I agree with Grandin that mixed breed dogs are the best bets for people to adopt, she also insists, several times, that pit bulls and Rottweilers are more aggressive dogs than other breeds-although she stops short of calling for a ban on them-even though it should be clear to anyone familiar with dogs that ANY dog is capable of being dangerous, depending on its environment and how it’s treated.

Bizarrely, Grandin also implies that insects and humans aren’t animals. Maybe she feels that insects are too lowly to be called animals and humans are superior to other animals.

I get the feeling, after reading this book, that Grandin is schizoid about our fellow animals. She obviously is attracted to them, has great admiration for their extraordinary abilities, and believes that she as an autistic person has a lot in common with them, yet she can talk about the ghastly experiments of Harry Harlow with baby monkeys without bothering to point out how sadistic they were. And she only mentions in passing her brief experiment with ethical vegetarianism that ended in failure because she felt ill, apparently causing her to conclude that she needed meat to survive. As a vegan for seven years, I know that no human needs meat to survive. It takes some getting used to, but anyone can do it. Although she does present some original and thoughtful ideas about animal behavior, as an animal advocate I can’t recommend this book.