Category Archives: dog books

Diary of a Dog-Walker – book review

Diary of a dog walker

Edward Stourton, a journalist in UK radio, television and print, writes about his thoughts when out walking his dog, Kudu, and shares stories of their adventures together.

The book was based on a series of articles that Stourton wrote in The Daily Telegraph newspaper – all based on his dog walks.  Already a celebrated journalist who had appeared regularly on The Today Show, Kudu came into his life when he was taking a step back from high profile assignments.

This book has some observations that are thoroughly enjoyable, particularly for the dog person. For example:

Kudu’s response to one of those growling broad-shouldered types that sometimes swagger up with evil intent on the common is to stand very still with a wagging tail.  Everything offers friendship, but there is something of substance about the way he holds himself.  He never barks – but very, very occasionally, and only if the back-end sniffing turns nasty, he can do a decent throat-gurgle.

The book is very English in its humor and so won’t appeal to everyone.  I liked it – but I didn’t love it.  I’m glad I read it, but it isn’t a ‘keeper’ in terms of my doggy book collection.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Best Mate – book review

Best Mate

Best Mate is a book for young readers, approximately 10 years of age.   I picked up my copy at an outdoor market for just $3 (the book was originally published in 2007).  Since I am now the proud owner of a re-homed racing greyhound, it was the greyhound on the cover that caught my eye.

It was, of course, an easy read.  But I can highly recommend this book which tells the story of a greyhound pup rescued by a small boy, Patrick, on his way to school.  Named ‘Best Mate’, the pup was discarded in a river canal in a sack with his litter mates.

And so begins a story of a dog and a child’s insight into animal cruelty.  Best Mate loves Patrick and Patrick loves him.  The two are separated when Best Mate is stolen for  racing.  There he meets a young girl named Becky who names him Brighteyes and he makes a friend with another racing greyhound.

But that is not the end of his story, or the cruelty that the book portrays.  Be prepared to support the young reader in your home:  Best Mate’s friend is killed when he can no longer win races.

Best Mate will ultimately be re-homed yet again before the end of the book, and this time he ends up with the name Paddywack.

There are a few chapters in this book written from Best Mate’s perspective.  The only thing that would strengthen the book is to hear more from Best Mate himself.

This book should be on your child’s reading list.  It is a good introduction into animal welfare issues and a good first insight into the greyhound racing industry.

My reading of this book is all the more timely since news has hit the media this week about ‘live baiting’ in Australian greyhound racing…the book doesn’t portray live baiting, but I felt a connection to the story nonetheless because of the headlines.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Animals in Emergencies – book review

AnimalsinEmergenciesCover

I have just finished reading Animals in Emergencies:  Learning from the Christchurch earthquakes by Annie Potts and Donelle Gadenne.  This was a must-read book for me.  Why?  I’m in it!

Published in late 2014, this book is largely a compilation of stories about people and animals caught up in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.  However, since it is also a text produced by university academics, it aims to serve a purpose as “an introduction to the specialised area of animal welfare management during emergencies.”

I found the first 90% of the book the most enjoyable.  Filled with stories of rescue, sheltering and individual owner’s tales of the earthquakes, the book serves to document – largely in the first person – the historical accounts of the days, weeks and months following the quakes.  And I like the fact that the book doesn’t just focus on companion animal dogs and cats, but also includes stories about horses, fish, hedgehogs and other species.

But the last 10% of the book is rather disappointing (and it hurts me to have to say this).  Since New Zealand is a production-based economy, this book had to focus on the fate of production animals.  But this is also where the book loses its tone and momentum.  Either the authors asked for interviews with farmers and researchers and were rejected, or they simply didn’t ask – we’ll never know.

Perhaps because of the lack of firsthand accounts, the book becomes too formal in its approach to describing the impact on farm animals and animals used in research.  The text uses citations from newspaper articles at this point and becomes ‘preachy’ in terms of animal welfare.  As someone with a personal interest in animal welfare management, the issues raised in the book are not new but the distinct ‘lessons learned from Christchurch’ is very much lost on the reader.

I’m pleased this book has been produced and I’m very honored to have my story told although I know that I’m a very small contributor to the overall efforts to assist animals following the quakes.

Animals in Emergencies has been distributed to booksellers worldwide and a paperback version is available on Amazon.com.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Bad dog (a love story) – book review

Bad dog a love story cover

This book tells the story of Martin Kihn and his Bernese Mountain Dog, Hola.  Martin (Marty) is an alcoholic who is on the verge of losing his job.  Hola is out of control, having never been trained.  Marty’s wife Gloria leaves him because she needs space away from both of them.

Marty decides to throw himself into obedience training of Hola to get Gloria back and to keep his mind from drinking.  They go into training for the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test.

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it.  I expected a book that was very much a dog story and what I got was a man telling his survival story with a main character being his dog.  I did enjoy how Marty hears Hola talking to him.  When Hola speaks to him, her voice is in italics.  For example, on the spur of the moment Marty decides to drive out and see his wife in the countryside where she is staying:

“Hola,” I say, as we drive the twisting half mile past the ice-cream-and-chicken stand to the house, “what if Mommy doesn’t want to see us.”

She’ll want to see me, she says.  Everybody loves me.

“Don’t count on it, girlfriend.”

Do you think she made crab cakes?

The book also gives some good insights into the Canine Good Citizen test and mentions a number of training techniques.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

The adventurous life of a Cape Cod dog (book review)

Cape Cod dogSubtitled “A Curious Canine’s Exploration of the Cape’s Natural History”, this little book is a winner!

Shelby is the resident Golden Retriever at a bed & breakfast managed by his Mom and Dad (the author and her husband). This book tells the story of Shelby’s adventures around the Cape.  He goes on a whale watch (appropriately, since Scaglione-Peck is a naturalist with the Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch which operates out of Provincetown) where he is mostly impressed by the smell of the whales as they breach the water in front of the boat…

He runs through the sand dunes of Provincetown, meets seals and dolphins, and generally enjoys the natural attractions that the Cape has to offer.  The author uses her expertise in natural history to explain the setting of each of Shelby’s adventures.

Jenny Kelley’s pencil illustrations bring Shelby’s story to life perfectly.  This book, at 74 pages total, would make an ideal gift for a family planning to head to Cape Cod in Summer 2015, or for any family who has enjoyed the Cape either in season or in the off season.

The book is a tribute to Shelby, who lived to the age of 16.  He’s appropriately mentioned in the Acknowledgements section of the book.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Goodbye, friend

Goodbye, friend
With Daisy’s passing, it is probably not surprising that I reached for a book on grief and – more specifically – a book about grief over the loss of a pet.

I purchased this book in 2013, but when I started to read it then, it didn’t feel right.  Although aging, Daisy was still in good health and I felt like I was somehow ‘jumping the gun.’  The book went to the bottom of my ‘to read’ pile until last week when I found myself at loose ends in my empty house.

One of the biggest things about loss of a pet is, although deep down we know that our dog has a short lifespan, there is nothing that can prepare you for the emotional tidal wave that comes on the day of your dog’s death.  So, having a book to turn to for guidance is useful.

This book is written in simple terms, with some historic references to cultures and how they view death, dying and the role of pets.  It discusses the decision we face when euthanizing a sick pet, how to deal with children’s grief, understanding the need to care for yourself when grieving, and deciding when it is right to take steps that allow you to move on.

Since Kowalski is a clergyman, he has used his background to prepare a section on readings and poems that can be used in a memorial service for a lost pet.

I’m glad I had this book handy for when I had to suddenly face the loss of Daisy and, based on my experience, I would recommend to all my readers to have a book about pet grief in your ‘tool box’ for when you have to face the sad occasion of saying goodbye.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Comet’s Tale – book review

Comet's TaleThis book will make you want to go out and adopt a Greyhound!  Mr Wolf tells the story of Comet, a Greyhound who comes into his life as his health and well-being are seriously under threat.

The author never had any experience with Greyhounds until he is drawn to a charitable group promoting Greyhound adoption at his local supermarket.

A Greyhound who suffered abuse at the track, Comet is withdrawn around most people but decides that Mr Wolf (affectionately called “Wolfie” by his wife) is for her.  She literally sits down next to him and lets him know – take me home.

As Steven’s health deteriorates, he lives on pain killers and can barely walk or do simple household tasks.  This is when he decides that Comet has all of the qualities of a service dog and only needs training.  He looks for trainers to assist him and all scoff at the suggestion that a Greyhound could be a service dog.  So, he trains her himself.

I particularly liked the stories of Comet as she learns to pull Steven’s wheelchair through the airport.  Aided by the photo on the cover of the book (the only photo in this book, which perhaps is its only shortcoming), you can understand when Steven describes Comet’s doe eyes and the looks she would give him to communicate her very articulate thoughts!

I recommend this book for summer reading (if you are currently in the Northern Hemisphere) or curl up with it in front of the fire for winter entertainment (if you are in the Southern Hemisphere).

Happy reading!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand