Spring brings a pack of fresh stories of how dogs can improve people's lives — even when things seem pretty hopeless. Several new books also look at how we value these four-legged friends, from heroic rescue stories of Hurricane Katrina to tales of divorcing couples who fight like cats and dogs over who gets the family pooch. Here's a roundup for your spring reading:
• Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned, by Cathy Scott, photography by Clay Myers (Wiley Publishing Inc., 2008; $19.99). Actor Alice MacGraw writes in the foreword: "This is an unforgettable account of the courage and boundless energy of people who realize that we human beings have an absolute obligation to help the other creatures of this planet. In seeing these images and reading the accounts in this book, we are reminded of the very best behavior of which the human heart is capable."
Scott covered the hurricane for Best Friends Animal Society. She handles the description of what happened as a journalist with the sensitivity of an animal lover. These stories are so riveting that simple, straight-forward narrative works fine. Hopefully, lots of lessons were learned as a result of Katrina, and reminding us of these lessons is good. Warning: Tissue is required for this reading, though the book abounds in happy endings.
• We Can't Stay Together For the Dogs: Doing What's Best for Your Dog When Your Relationship Breaks Up, by Jennifer Keene (TFH Publications, 2008; $22.95). There are 44-million U.S. households with at least one dog, and half of those families (when they include married couples) are likely to experience a divorce. If that happens, who gets the dog? Do you stay together for the kids with four legs? Maybe you do, but then so many of the dogs pictured in this book seem sad. Divorce is hard on pets too.
Among the topics covered: In multidog homes, do you split the dogs up? What do you do about special hounds with special needs? How do you deal with your stress as well as your dog's? Who forks over the cash to pay for everyday essentials like food and toys, let alone extraordinary veterinary care? The author has two of her own dogs and visitation rights with a third.
• Bombproof: The True Story of Second Chances, by Leana Beasley and Stephen Sawicki (iUniverse, 2007; $20.95). This story spotlights the sort of image I think Rottweilers should have. Actually, the main character, Bronson, happens to be a Rottweiler mix. Talk about the right dog for the right person. From horrifying flashbacks to a brutal rape to epileptic seizures, to being shuttled in and out of psychiatric hospitals, Beasley, Bronson's owner, was barely hanging on.
One seizure caused her to aspirate and she wound up in a coma. Of course, Bronson didn't care much about Beasley's past horrible luck. Not only did Bronson pretty much save Beasley, but even more astounding, the dog (named for actor Charles Bronson) went on to help so many others. Dogs do heal.
Send questions to Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.