Are you looking for information on training adopted dogs, an entertaining read about one perpetually bad dog, or the touching story of a blind cat? Below you'll find a fall reading list for a wide range of animal lovers.
By Gwen Cooper (Bantam Trade Paperback, New York, 2009; $15)
This is a memoir about how to live with a blind cat. Homer may be the most friended cat ever, with more than 15,000 Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Homer's extraordinary story demonstrates the adoptability of special-needs cats, rabbits and dogs. Homer, a cat that might have been euthanized, now enjoys celebrity status. He is generally a fun-loving but ordinary cat. The story, though, is extraordinary.
Chase! Managing Your Dog's Predatory Instincts
By Clarissa von Reinhardt (Dogwise, Wenatchee, Wash., 2010; $16.95)
It's called prey drive, and it's in the genes of many dogs. They don't merely want to chase a squirrel or a cat; they want to kill it. Can you actually train the genetic drive away? The author, a dog trainer who lives and works in Germany, thinks it's possible.
Pukka: The Pup After Merle
By Ted Kerasote (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 2010; $18.95)
The author shows you how to raise and socialize a puppy using more than 200 photographs. You may not recognize Kerasote's name, but you might know his previous top-selling book, Merle's Door: Lessons From a Freethinking Dog. The scenic photos of Wyoming are nice and the book is very sweet.
Fixing Freddie: A True Story About a Boy, a Mom and a Very, Very Bad Beagle
By Paula Munier (Adams Media, Avon, Mass., 2010; $19.95)
The family didn't need another dog, but there Mom was with Freddie. In the style of Marley and Me, this is the funny memoir of a single mom whose youngest son is now grown and ready to move on, while the author is left alone with Freddie. Able to raise kids, no problem. Able to raise a dog? Not this one. Did she fix Freddie? Well, you'll have to read the book.
Do Over Dogs: Give Your Dog a Second Chance for a First Class Life
By Pat Miller (Dogwise, Wenatchee, Wash., 2010; $17.95)
As the legendary Pat Miller, a trainer who trains the trainers, points out, most dogs deserve a second chance, but how do you go about giving it to them? Finally, here's a manual for the process. The book focuses on two problems commonly found among shelter and rescue dogs: resource guarding and separation distress. I like the section on dog-training myths. Myth No. 4: "Dogs can't be trained with positive reinforcement. You have to punish them so they know when they are wrong." Miller responds to all the myths with experience, science and common sense.
The Adventures of Harvey the Wonder Dog
By Lise Dominique, illustrated by Chrissie Vales (State Street Publishing, Elgin, Ill., 2009; $19.95)
Writing for kids in the right tone can be like walking a tightrope if the goal is to educate and entertain. This author pulls it off. The story and the book are delicious — and that's because so much of the tale is about food. Lise Dominique begins: "Critters tend to look at things one of two ways. They are either dangerous or delicious." Harvey is a wonder dog, as he finds a way to get sausages at the Fourth of July Parade, and as he searches for what he wants more than anything: love.
Animal Rescue Team: Special Delivery!
By Sue Stauffacher, illustrated by Priscilla Lamont (Alfred A. Knopf Books, New York, 2010; $14.99)
This latest Animal Rescue Team adventure involves a stinky skunk (is there another kind?), a murder of crows, and other mysteries the team of teenage sleuths is set to solve. The message — about rescuing animals — is a good one, and the book is fast-paced. This is the second in a series; the third is due later this year.
By Kurtis Scaletta (Alfred A. Knopf Books, New York, 2010; $16.99)
The PR material begins, "Africa is a place that most kids only read about. Linus Tuttle is about to call it his home." And with Africa comes an assortment of wild animals. Yet Linus repeatedly happens upon deadly black mamba snakes. They're rare, and hard to spot for people seeking them out. So why does Linus see them so often? Something's going on here.