Posts Tagged ‘book review’

Book Review – Labrador Retrievers: How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend

July 21, 2012

“Puppies and adults both are happy dogs with constantly wagging tails and a fast tongue.”

As pet blogger and proud owner of a Labrador Retriever, I was given the opportunity to preview this e-book titled “Labrador Retrievers: How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend“. Although I wasn’t able to see the images in my free preview version, I found the content quite comprehensive. If you are considering getting a Labrador Retriever, everything you want to know about them is this e-book and available on Amazon.com at a very low price.

Chapter one on the history of Labradors is brief. Chapter 2 was about where to get a Labrador Retriever. It was my favorite chapter because the author, Lorie Huston DVM, cautions against buying one from a pet store and gives some great information on how to find a good dog breeder or rescue group.

The next five chapters cover how to prepare your house for a Labrador, what to buy for him, basic training, socializing, care tips including some great feeding tips, and veterinary visits. One piece of advice which I found uncommon is that she recommends bringing your new dog home in a carrier or dog seat belt! Labradors can be a handful. Not only can a dog seat belt help keep your new pet safe, but it can also help keep them from being a distraction to the driver.

In the chapter on basic training, Lorie Huston DVM not only covers the basics, but training on some behavior issues as well such as separation anxiety. In the chapter on training, she does not promote one training method over another but does stress against the use of dominance training techniques and even gives a very good explanation as to why.

I really enjoyed the chapter on caring for a Labrador because it has great information on how to find the right food. It also has some good general proportion feeding tips since Labradors have a tendency to get overweight. Other care tips include grooming, bathing, trimming nails, cleaning ears, brushing teeth, and what to look for in signs of illness or disease. Veterinary care tips include vaccinations, how to prevent pest problems (like fleas, ticks, and heartworms), the benefits of spaying/neutering, how to handle some pet emergencies, and so on.

Since the author is a DVM, you know she has the expertise to share about dogs. I myself have a Labrador, my girl Maya who was adopted, and can attest that the information in this e-book is very comprehensive and perfect for anyone wanting to get a Labrador. By the time I got to the 2nd page of the book, I read the following, “Puppies and adults both are happy dogs with constantly wagging tails and a fast tongue.” When I read this sentence, my confidence in the author’s knowledge was firmly established. It describes my Labrador to a T.

You can get “Labrador Retrievers: How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” as an e-book on Amazon for just $2.99. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle for PC on Amazon for free and read it on your computer. You can also enter a contest to win a free copy by visiting WOW! Women on Writing website – click HERE.

Author, Lorie Huston, DVM

Dog Book Review – The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

June 5, 2011

The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein is about the life of a family through the eyes of a dog.  Enzo is no ordinary dog.  He has a very keen understanding of human emotions and interactions.  While his family go through trials and tribulations, Enzo is there to lend a helping paw.

Denny is the human Enzo is most loyal to.  Denny is an aspiring race car driver who is very good at what he does.  Enzo follows him through life where he meets a wonderful woman named Eve, they marry and have a beautiful daughter name Zoe.  But Eve dies young.  Denny struggles to maintain custody of his daughter as Eve’s parents (who Enzo titles as the Evil Twins) scheme to keep her away from him.

Obviously with such trials on his family, Denny’s ambition to become a professional racecar driver takes a backseat, so to speak.  It’s Denny’s love of car racing which gives this book its title.  But “The Art of Racing in the Rain” isn’t really about car racing.  Although Enzo, the narrator of the story, uses car racing idioms the book is really about life – the ability of ordinary people to overcome difficult circumstances.

Once I got started, I had a difficult time putting this book down.  I read a quarter of it the first night, then a quarter another night, and I finished off the last half of the book in half a day.  I hated the “Evil Twins” as much as Enzo.  And I admired Denny’s strength and goodness throughout.  “The Art of Racing in the Rain” is a well written book which any dog lover will love.  Check out “The Art of Racing in the Rain” at our Amazon.com affiliate site, Dog Lover’s Book Store.

Book Review – “Maggie: The Dog Who Changed My Life”

January 18, 2011

Maggie: The Dog Who Changed My Life

“Maggie:  The Dog Who Changed My Life” by Dawn Kairns is a true story about a very special dog.  Dawn talks about her relationship with Maggie as being very close, even spiritual.  Have you ever had a dog which seemed to really understand you?  Not just your words, but your emotions too?  Was there one special dog which stood out amongst all the pets in your life, a dog who was your one and only true soul mate?

That is what Maggie was to this author.  Her relationship with Maggie reminds me of my relationship with my childhood pet, Cassie.  I have owned many dogs in my life, but Cassie was so much more.  As I read about Maggie, I understand the depths of the author’s relationship with her and cherish the book all the more.

Chapter one of “Maggie:  The Dog Who Changed My Life” begins with the author telling us who she is, her family situation, and why she got a dog.  Chapter two goes into Maggie’s beginnings.  The author says she made some training and other mistakes with Maggie out of ignorance, but dogs are smarter that what we give them credit for.  Despite those mistakes, Maggie seemed to really understand her and grew to be very good dog.

Further chapters of “Maggie:  The Dog Who Changed My Life” go into the author’s spiritual perspective of her relationship with Maggie.  It was like Maggie somehow knew what was needed of her without ever being trained.  The author also described Maggie’s spiritual energy and zest for life which was attractive to many people.  Maggie had a way of bringing a smile to everyone’s face.

Maggie had some major health issues.  The author talks about finding the right vet for Maggie.  She talks about one vet in particular which she felt in her gut was probably not right, but went with her head instead.  She says that this was a mistake and learns the hard way to listen to your vet, but don’t be afraid to get a second opinion and ultimately go with what you feel is right.  Take how your dog feels about their vet into serious consideration as well.

The author also discusses dream interpretation.  She feels that some of her dreams about Maggie may have been premonitions and that Maggie may have in some way influenced those dreams.  And she believes that some of her dreams were ways in which her subconscious was trying to tell her that something, such as a certain vet, wasn’t right.  While the concept of dream interpretation is beyond me, some of what the author discusses makes sense.

Other issues which the author talks about is holistic veterinary care such as acupuncture, consumer dog food versus homemade dog food, dealing with the loss of a dog, and the possibility of some dogs having a sixth sense.  There is no doubt that some dogs, like dogs who can sense when an epileptic is about to have a seizure, have a sixth sense.  But does it go beyond just sensing health issues?  Can some dogs sense our emotions and intents without us doing anything to outwardly show them?  Our relationship with dogs is a unique and special relationship.  There is no other relationship like it.  The bonds, health benefits, and service which dogs provide is truly miraculous.

“Maggie:  The Dog Who Changed My Life” is a really great read.  Even if you don’t agree with some of the author’s beliefs, there is no denying how special Maggie was.  If you have had a similar relationship, then you will cherish this book as much as I have.  You can find this book at our Amazon.com a-store called the Dog Lover’s Book Store.  Check it out and tell us what you think.

Book Review – Rainbow Bridge by Niki Behrikis Shanahan

November 15, 2010

Do dogs go to heaven?  Do cats?  I have heard different things from different church groups and different people.  I’d like to think that my past pets are in heaven.  Why shouldn’t they be?  If you have recently lost a pet and are wondering yourself, I highly recommend you read, Rainbow Bridge, Pet Loss is Heaven’s Gain.  The author, Niki Behrikis Shanahan, answers the question about animals in heaven.  She quotes scripture and gives lots of examples of people who have had a glimpse of heaven and seen animals there.

Chapter 2 talks about animal companions in history.  People have had pets all throughout recorded history and there is even evidence of pets in ancient archeological finds.  My favorite chapter is Chapter 3.  This chapter is full of stories about people and why they believe their pets are in heaven.  One story is about a boy who is dying.  On his deathbed, he sees his old dog who has long since passed.  Is it possible that his dog is in heaven and came to the boy to reassure him that even though he was dying, everything was going to be okay?  I’d like to think so.

The other chapters give more examples of scripture.  Chapter 4 give scripture explaining that even though you die in this world, your spirit does not die.  And this may be the same for animals.  Chapter 5 helps you overcome the depression of losing your pet.  The scriptures tell you that you can mourn but you also need to move on, just like how our pet has moved on to a better place.  And you can move on by helping other people or animals in need.

Although I am not currently mourning a lost pet, I feel that this book will help anyone who recently has.  I read through it pretty quickly but especially savored some special paragraphs and scriptures.  You can get this book and other pet-related books at our Dog Lover’s Book Store.

Book Review – “One Good Dog” by Susan Wilson

October 10, 2010

One Good Dog

I loved this book!  “One Good Dog” is very well written and a difficult to put down.  I was so engaged in the story, that I finished it in just a few nights.  When I did have to put it down, I couldn’t help but to continue to think about the story.

“One Good Dog” is about two separate dysfunctional lives who come together and make life better.  One life is from the perspective of a pit bull mix dog.  He starts out his life in the pits as a fighting dog.  He is abused and forced to live in a tiny cage and is only brought out to go to the bathroom or to fight.  The other life is of a man who grew up in foster homes.  His early life with nothing drives him to succeed as a white collar executive who has everything.  Or at least he thinks he has everything.  He is arrogant and spoiled and is concerned more about his job and being obeyed by his underlings than he is about his family.

This man makes a huge mistake at work, a mistake which also happens to be against the law.  He is fired from his corporate job and forced into community service.  Jobless, and unable to get another job due to his criminal record, his volunteer service at a homeless shelter becomes his focus.  No, it is not an animal shelter, it is a homeless shelter.  But one of the regulars at the shelter who has a dog will eventually lead our man to the pit bull dog in need.

In the meantime, the pit bull dog is rescued and taken to a shelter.  Because he is a pit bull, it is hard for the shelter to place him in a good home.  He ends up in a not-so-good home and his owner eventually lets him loose on the streets.  He lives on the streets for some time before finding himself back in the shelter again.

That is where the man finds him.  But the story doesn’t end there.  There is conflict with the dog’s previous owners who used him for fighting and conflict between the man and his daughter who hates him.  The man who had only taken the dog out of reluctance eventually bonds with him.  The man learns that the true joys in life are not the fancy cars that you drive or the amount of respect you can demand from other people.  The dog learns that life is not about fighting and that people can be a source of love and security.

It is a very heartwarming story and worth every page on which it is written.  If you have a chance, I strongly recommend you read this story about a man and a dog who  were each given a second chance at happiness – and succeeded. 

I loved this book!  “One Good Dog” is very well written and a difficult to put down.  I was so engaged in the story, that I finished it in just a few nights.  When I did have to put it down, I couldn’t help but to continue to think about the story.

“One Good Dog” is about two separate dysfunctional lives who come together and make life better.  One life is from the perspective of a pit bull mix dog.  He starts out his life in the pits as a fighting dog.  He is abused and forced to live in a tiny cage and is only brought out to go to the bathroom or to fight.  The other life is of a man who grew up in foster homes.  His early life with nothing drives him to succeed as a white collar executive who has everything.  Or at least he thinks he has everything.  He is arrogant and spoiled and is concerned more about his job and being obeyed by his underlings than he is about his family.

This man makes a huge mistake at work, a mistake which also happens to be against the law.  He is fired from his corporate job and forced into community service.  Jobless, and unable to get another job due to his criminal record, his volunteer service at a homeless shelter becomes his focus.  No, it is not an animal shelter, it is a homeless shelter.  But one of the regulars at the shelter who has a dog will eventually lead our man to the pit bull dog in need.

In the meantime, the pit bull dog is rescued and taken to a shelter.  Because he is a pit bull, it is hard for the shelter to place him in a good home.  He ends up in a not-so-good home and his owner eventually lets him loose on the streets.  He lives on the streets for some time before finding himself back in the shelter again.

That is where the man finds him.  But the story doesn’t end there.  There is conflict with the dog’s previous owners who used him for fighting and conflict between the man and his daughter who hates him.  The man who had only taken the dog out of reluctance eventually bonds with him.  The man learns that the true joys in life are not the fancy cars that you drive or the amount of respect you can demand from other people.  The dog learns that life is not about fighting and that people can be a source of love and security.

It is a very heartwarming story and worth every page on which it is written.  If you have a chance, I strongly recommend you read this story about a man and a dog who  were each given a second chance at happiness – and succeeded.  You can purchase “One Good Dog” at any book store, or get it from our Dog Lover’s Book Store.

Book Review – Rescuing Sprite by Mark R. Levin

September 19, 2010

Rescuing Sprite is a personal true story by Mark R. Levin.  Mark tells the reader about how he and his family rescued a great dog.  To anyone’s best guess, the dog is a light-colored spaniel mix who the family names Sprite.  Mark tells us about the good times he and his family had with Sprite and the great overall happiness that life with Sprite gave them.  There were hardships too but it had more to do with Sprite’s health problems than with any issues with Sprite himself.

Sprite’s story is both a happy and a sad one.  I laughed, I smiled, and I cried.  It is obvious that Mark is an animal lover and I applaud him for sharing his story about the joy that his rescued dog has brought him and his family.

However, I had a really hard time getting into the book.  After reading the first chapter, I almost decided to stop reading it.  It was not very well written and was more of a rant-and-gloat which had nothing to do with Sprite at all.  By rant, I mean that the author expressed a great deal of anger over things long since passed and issues which most people would have left behind a long time ago.  By gloat, I mean that the author bragged about how he saved the life of a neighbor’s dog.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am glad he saved a dog.  But I didn’t buy the book to read a biography.  I wanted to know about Sprite.

After putting the book aside for a couple of weeks, I decided to give it another chance.  I am glad to say that the story gets much better.  In fact, I recommend that you avoid most of the first chapter.  Start reading the book from the last two sentences of the first chapter, “Goldfish, turtles, and hamsters are pets.  Dogs are family.”  I couldn’t have said it any better than that.

In chapter two, Mark tells the reader more about the family’s first dog, Pepsi.  In chapter three, he talks about how he and his family went about rescuing Sprite.  Later in the book, the reader learns that Sprite is older than originally thought and that Sprite has some health concerns.  Despite these drawbacks, further chapters give the reader more insight as to how Sprite made everything in life more meaningful.  Chapters six starts to get emotional as Sprite’s health worsens.  And the succeeding chapters tell the reader about Sprite’s last days, his passing on, and how the author and his family dealt with losing their beloved pet.

Overall, the story is a good one.  The memories the author shares seem a bit unorganized at times.  And sometimes he wanders off subject to talk about himself.  You won’t find much suspense in this story.  And you probably won’t find yourself being drawn into it and led from chapter to chapter.  But Rescuing Sprite is still a worthwhile read.  Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book are donated to animal shelters.

Book Review – Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs

August 16, 2010

I recently read, “Mine!  A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs” by Jean Donaldson.  I purchased this book at the recommendation of the dog trainer who mentored me while I was working on getting my dog trainers certificate from the Animal Behavior College.  I was having problems with Sephi behaving aggressively towards smaller dogs and my mentor advised me that this book would be a great help.

Sephi’s aggression issues with smaller dogs usually comes about when food is involved.  Food is considered a valuable resource to many dogs and may trigger excessive guarding and/or aggression issues when it comes to protecting that resource.  Other things a dog might consider a valuable resource worth guarding are toys, beds, sleeping spaces, their owners, or even parts of themselves (like some dogs hate to have their feet touched).  Indications that your dog may have a resource guarding issue includes growling, showing their teeth, snapping, or biting.

This book is geared more towards dog trainers, but it can be followed by pet owners who are fairly savvy when it comes to dog training.  The book goes into great detail when explaining what resource guarding is and the various reactions of the dog which is guarding.  The book also gives step by step instructions on how to deal with each type of resource guarding.  These instructions are very extensive.  Each step can take weeks or more to complete.  But if you have a dog who snaps at your children when they get too close to him while he is eating, or a dog who growls when you try to move him off your bed, it will be worth your while to read this book and follow the steps.

While I found this book very informative and helpful, you should know that a lot of the terminology in the book is terminology used by dog trainers.  If you are not familiar with the vocabulary of a dog trainer, you may find that you have to consult a dictionary every other page or so.  As a result, you may not completely understand some of the steps and may be less likely to implement them properly.  If you are unsure of what terms like desensitization, counterconditioning, classical conditioning, or operant conditioning are, you should either a) hire a professional dog trainer instead of reading this book, or b) read a book on basic dog training before reading this book.

Book Review – “Scent of the Missing”by Susannah Charleson

August 7, 2010

Scent of the Missing is a true story written by a search and rescue (SAR) dog owner. Based in Texas, Susannah Charleson first runs alongside other search and rescue dog owners in order to learn what it takes to also be a SAR volunteer. The book , which is more like a journal, is about her journey, the struggles, and the intense dedication it takes to be a part of the SAR volunteer team. We learn that Susannah trains with the team many months before she purchases her own dog for SAR training.

After many months of finding a qualified breeder, Susannah finally gets a Golden Retriever who she names Puzzle. Puzzle is a puppy, of course, and both dog and owner still have many more months before they can become a certified SAR team. The book continues on with the difficulties and successes that she and Puzzle go through. And finishes with Puzzle getting her certification and going on her first search.

Overall, I think the book is very well written. Some of the chapters are about her personal life struggles and only marginally related to Puzzle and the search and rescue. But Susannah keeps the overall story relatable and interesting. I often find myself unable to put the book down and look forward to the next night when I can read more chapters.

As Susannah tells the true story of her experience, she doesn’t sugar-coat it or embellish the facts. As much as I’d love to hear a miraculous story where Puzzle or some other search and rescue dog is directly involved with saving a life, I love how Susannah doesn’t glorify the truth. Most of the time, the SAR dog doesn’t find the missing person themselves so much as they direct the proper authorities on where the missing person might be. Nevertheless, the SAR dog provides a great contribution in helping authorities to narrow down what might otherwise be an endless futile search.

I am intrigued with all that one has to go through in order to train for and own a SAR dog. And I find myself being proud of Puzzle when she succeeds. I learn that not all dogs are cut out for this job, even with all the training, and that some dogs lose heart in the search and rescue and end up retiring early. Susannah and Puzzle’s success is an effort to be greatly admired and I thank her for sharing her journey.

This book can be purchased at your local book store or online at Amazon.com affiliate page titled Dog Lover’s Book Store.

Book Review of “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron

July 20, 2010

 

I thoroughly enjoyed “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron. The entire story is told in the perspective of a dog. W. Bruce Cameron does a great job at telling the story through the dog’s limited view. And although the dog’s version of what happens if often mistaken, misunderstood, and even comical, we humans have no trouble understanding what is happening.

“A Dog’s Purpose” is a well-told story about a dog who is reincarnated several times. Each of it’s lives is different and each leads to his purpose in the next life.

In the dog’s first life, he is a stray dog who learns how to fend for himself without humans. But he is eventually caught and named Toby. As Toby, he learns how to love people, protect his family, and how to open a fence. He life ends after only a very short time when he is put to sleep because he is unadoptable.

When he is born again, he remembers how to open a fence and wanders away from a puppy mill and into a better life as Bailey. Bailey lives a long and happy life with his human boy, Ethan. In this life, Bailey learns how to tell good people from bad. He learns commands, tricks, and how to protect his family from the bad people. But mostly, he learns what a pleasure it is to live his life for his boy, Ethan.

When this long life is over, he is reborn as a female German Shepherd. She is purchased by a police officer named Jacob. Jacob names her and trains her to be a search and rescue dog. Ellie’s past life helped her to learn quickly and to become very good at her job serving humans. She saves many lives, including Jacob’s. Jacob is injured on the job so Ellie has to go on to be the dog of another police officer named Maya. Ellie inspires Maya to be a better police officer and together they save more lives. And when Ellie is forced to retire, she continues her life learning about bigger families and how to be a good dog with children. Once again, she lives a long and happy life.

When she is reborn, she is once again a male dog. She, who is now a he, is born through a breeder and purchased by someone who only somewhat cares for him. He continues to realize the complexity of people and learns that not all people are good at taking care of and loving their pets. He has a very sad and unfulfilled life until he finds himself abandoned. While using what he learned in his first life to survive on his own, he soon finds himself in the same area where he had once enjoyed a previous life. He now finds a new purpose and sets on a quest to rebuild that life.

I shed quite a few tears in this story. But I also smiled and laughed. This story has reminded me of how much my own dogs have fulfilled my life and brought me happiness. And it has reminded me about how important dogs our to our lives and how we humans should continue our quest to do away with puppy mills, stop animal abuse, support animal adoption, and teach people how to properly care for their pets.

I highly recommend this book to any animal lover. Ask for it at your local book story or check it out online at Amazon.com affiliate site titled Dog Lover’s Book Store.

 

 

Book Review of Feisty Fido, Help For the Leash-Reactive Dog

June 12, 2010
 

 

The Feisty Fido

My dog, Sephi is very leash-reactive when it comes to other dogs. What does leash-reactive mean? It means that when we are going for a walk, Sephi barks and lunges at other dogs she sees on the way. This is very problematic as she has taught my other dog, Maya, to do it too. So whenever I take them for a walk, I have to try to control two big dogs when we see another dog. It is not at all easy. And the situation could be very bad if either of them gets away from me.
 
 Due to this issue, I usually only take them on walks during the times of day when fewer people and their dogs are out. And if I see another dog, I try to walk as far away from them as possible before Sephi and Maya see them too. But this is only one solution to the problem. To try to find other remedies, I purchased a book titled, Feisty Fido, Help For the Leash-Reactive Dog, by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D. and Karen B. London, Ph.D.
 
The book has been very informative and helpful. I must warn you, however, that the process is a long one. There is no immediate miracle cure and it takes a lot of time, patience, positive reinforcement, and consistency. (See our post, https://americandogblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/fundamental-dog-training-tips-lots-of-tppc/) But it is worth it and it works.

The first tip they taught is called the “Watch”. This cue works just like it sounds. You teach your dog to look at and focus on you. You start in areas with no distractions and tell your dog to watch. When they look at you, give them praise, a treat, or whatever reward motivates your dog to learn. As you prefect this cue in non-distracting areas, slowly introduce mild distractions and work your way up to bigger distractions. Over time, your dog will learn that whenever they see another dog, it is better to watch you than to pay attention to them.

The second tip they teach is the “U-Turn”. This cue also works just like it sounds. Whenever you see another dog, turn and go the other way. The trick to this cue is to encourage your dog to follow you without having to jerk on their leash. Leash jerking can make the leash-reactive problem worse rather than better. Again, you have to start this cue with no distractions and work your way up to higher levels of distractions.

We have given a very simple overview of two of the tips indicated in “Feisty Fido”. We highly recommend reading the book for more important details and additional tips. Visit the author’s website at http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/product/the-feisty-fido for more information and other great books.  The book is also available at our Amazon.com affiliate site titled Dog Lover’s Book Store.