Category Archives: dog books

A Dog’s Purpose – book review

I finished reading this New York Times bestseller yesterday – it’s been on my reading list for some time and I was lucky to have been given a copy as a Christmas present.

I have not been disappointed.  This story follows a dog who is reincarnated several times and, each time, he looks for his life’s purpose.  Starting his life as a stray born to a feral mother, this first life is a short one and gives insight into shelter life and euthanasia from the dog’s point of view.

a-dogs-purpose

The dog has a much longer life with his ‘boy’ Ethan as a Golden Retriever named Bailey, witnessing Ethan’s first love and encountering a psychotic neighbor with a penchant for animal cruelty (this part of the book is the darkest).

Reincarnated again, Bailey returns as a girl dog who becomes trained in search and rescue…

And then finally reincarnated again, during this final life of the book the dog is reunited with his Ethan, who is now a much older man…

There are many humorous scenes in this book, such as the dog’s observations about wearing the ‘cone of shame’ during several of his experiences when being neutered/spayed.

The book has been made into a movie that has only recently been released, and with controversy concerning the animal welfare standards on the film’s set, I’m not sure I will be interested in seeing the movie.  But I highly recommend the book – it’s a keeper in my dog book collection.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Second Chance Dog – book review

Subtitled ‘A Love Story’ – this book by Jon Katz lives up to its name.

Jon Katz is a prolific writer of books about his dogs and life on his beloved upstate New York farm, Bedlam Farm.  the-second-chance-dog

At this point in Katz’s life, his marriage is all but over and divorce is inevitable.  He meets a kindred spirit in artist Maria who owns Frieda – a German Shepherd/Rottweiler cross whom she adopted from a local shelter.   But Frieda is incredibly protective of Maria and cannot be trusted around Katz’s other dogs or the animals on the farm.  Her ability to hunt and attack is readily evident.

Katz concludes that he must train Frieda and reach a truce with this dog so that all dogs can live peacefully in the house together and, as a consequence, so too can he and Maria.

Perhaps the most touching part of this book is when Katz attempts to learn about Frieda’s life before she ended up in the shelter.  Frieda is a very intelligent dog and she escaped capture by her would-be rescuers for months.  Katz interviews students on the college campus where Frieda was often seen scavenging for food and learns about how she was ‘trained’ to protect the property of her original owners and teased through the fence of her property.   And ultimately how she was abandoned – pregnant.

Katz is determined and his story for love of Maria, Frieda, and all of his animals, is well worth reading.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Sound and the Furry – book review

In this 6th volume of the Chet and Bernie mysteries, the Little Detective Agency is hired to find Ralph Boutette, who has disappeared in Louisiana.

The Sound and the F

Ralph, an eccentric inventor, is part of the colourful Boutette family who seem constantly in conflict with another local family, the Robideaus.

Through their powers of investigation, Chet and Bernie uncover a story much larger than a family feud involving big oil and pending environmental disaster.

And Chet even tangles with a gator named Iko, to add to the authenticity of the bayou surrounds.

Not my favorite Chet and Bernie mystery, but still very entertaining.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

A Fistful of Collars – book review

Thanks to being under the weather with more time in bed, I’ve just finished another book.  The fifth book in the Chet and Bernie series, A Fistful of Collars, sees Bernie and Chet on the site of a film with famous star, Thad Perry, whom they have been hired to protect.

A-Fistful-of-Collars-cover

The big question:  is Thad a murderer both past and present?  There are actually several murders during the course of this story and it’s the second one that I wasn’t expecting.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Chet and Bernie series, the books are narrated from Chet the Dog’s point of view.  Here’s a few things you should know about Chet:

  • He failed out of K-9 School on the last day
  • He’s a member of The Nation (his term for dogs)
  • His favorite treats are by Rover and Company, although he likes Slim Jims and basically anything else he can find
  • His best pal is Iggy who lives next door. Unfortunately, Iggy doesn’t get out much.
  • He rides shotgun (front seat) with Bernie in their Porsche (he gets in the back for special people like Bernie’s girlfriend, Suzie)

I’ve ordered books 6, 7, and 8 in the series and so there will be more reviews to come – although probably not quite so quickly as these last two since I am on the mend.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Dog Who Knew Too Much – book review

The dog who knew too much

I’ve just finished the fourth book in the Chet and Bernie series by Spencer Quinn.  Like the previous three books, this one didn’t disappoint.

Bernie and Chet are hired to help when a young boy goes missing from a wilderness camp.  But a missing child is the least of Bernie’s worries as murder and mayhem enfold in a small and corrupt town.

As with the other Chet and Bernie books, Chet (Bernie’s dog) narrates this story.  Chet likes to ride shotgun in Bernie’s old Porsche and accompanies him to the camp with the camp leader, who turns up dead in an abandoned mine the following morning.

Meanwhile, Bernie’s girlfriend Susie gets the wrong impression about the Bernie’s relationship with his new client…

It’s a great story, with insightful commentary from Chet.  Well worth the read!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Reporting for Duty – book review

I have just finished reading Reporting for Duty, a coffee table book written by Tracy Libby.  This book is presented well, with small vignettes interspersed with text, photos, and profiles of 15 veterans and their assistance dogs.

Reporting for duty by Tracy Libby

The book’s first chapter explains  PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder, a term that didn’t come into use until after the Vietnam War), TBI (traumatic brain injury), and MST (military sexual trauma) – pretty gut-wrenching content.

The chapters that follow include coverage of therapy dogs in history, prison puppy programs and combat and operational stress-control dogs.  The final chapter is about how dogs read us, with references to the various research findings about canine cognition and the human-animal bond (a favourite subject of mine).

There are many photographs in this book, which are lovingly presented.  It provides a good selection of case studies – veterans and their dogs – with veterans from different wars and each requiring different levels of assistance and support.

But it is the book’s Foreward that will remain with me for some time.  Written by Karen D Jeffries (retired Commander in the US Navy, and co-founder of Veterans Moving Forward, Inc – a charity which will benefit from some of the proceeds of sales), the Foreward contains some sobering statistics and facts:

  • The US Veteran’s Administration is unable to meet the needs of the disabled veteran population
  • More that 540,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD or depression (or both)
  • More than 260,000 veterans have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries
  • Even if all of the service dog organisations currently operating in the United States increased their annual output by a factor of 100, the mental health challenges of veterans would still not be met
  • The present policy of the Veteran’s Administration is to provide service dogs only to veterans with visual or hearing impairment or some selected mobility challenges – a small sub-set of the range of uses and support that can be given by trained dogs

This is a book that is best enjoyed in hard copy – flick through the photos and thank heaven for the people who volunteer, fund raise, and train assistance dogs.

My copy of the Reporting for Duty was provided free-of-charge by the book’s publisher.  I will cherish it as part of my dog book collection.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

 

Izzy & Lenore – book review

Izzy and Lenore by Jon Katz

Over this Easter weekend, I have finished reading Izzy & Lenore, another great dog book by Jon Katz.

Although Katz’s earlier books talk about his life establishing Bedlam Farm in upstate New York,  and his menagerie of animals, this book gives us some depth into who Jon Katz is as a person, and he’s honest about his own battle with depression.

Izzy is a Border Collie that is rescued by Katz and he’s intelligent, with the seeming ability to connect to people in all circumstances.  This dog seems to have an infinite amount of compassion, despite being abandoned by his previous owners.  Katz and Izzy become trained as hospice volunteers and so throughout the book, there are tales of hospice cases that the two become involved in.  If you have ever had a loved one experience a terminal illness, dealt with the effects of old age and infirmity, these stories will resonate with you.

Lenore is a congenial Labrador puppy who joins the pack.

In this book, Katz faces his own battle with depression and he explains some of the dark secrets that he and his sister share.

I recommend this book, as I have all the others I have read by Jon Katz.  I wish I had his talent for storytelling and – perhaps best of all – unlike previous stories of Bedlam Farm, no dogs die during the course of this story.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand