My aunt says I never met a dog or cat that I didn’t like. Whenever I see a dog, I have to visit with it and pet it, but I ask the owner’s permission first. I love Saturday mornings. Everyone is out walking their dogs, and I get to talk to people. I have always felt calmer around dogs and cats. At health fairs I always make a beeline for the service and therapy dog section of the arena.
It must have started when a former neighbor from years ago gave me a book for my second birthday. It had dog and cat pictures and accompanying poems. Unfortunately, it has been long out of print. I loved that oversized book (and had it read to me) until it almost fell apart. I couldn’t let it go until one of our yard sales before we moved. I’ve read many books about dogs and cats over the years. At 15, I subscribed to Dog Fancy, even though I’ve never had a dog. I made scrapbooks of dog and cat pictures cut from magazines. I still miss my cat a lot. She joined the family when I was 24. My interest in animals now includes many other species.
Here’s a few of my favorite books about animals:
Through a Dog’s Eyes: Understanding Our Dogs by Understanding How They See the World – by Jennifer Arnold. Unlike the PBS program of the same name, which focused on Canine Assistants, Arnold tells more of her personal story and how she started the service-dog school and the people she has worked with. Along the way, you learn more about dogs and how to interact with them. The appendixes cover training, behavior problems, training tips, health and safety, and personality assessments for dog and person. I was glad to hear her say “Please don’t have a dog in mind,” to the people who wanted service dogs. I had never thought about it that way before.
Flush, by Virginia Woolf.
Homer’s Odyssey, by Gwen Cooper (2009). I can’t say enough wonderful things about this book! Although she already had two cats, Scarlett and Vashti, Gwen Cooper adopted Homer, a blind kitten that nobody wanted, from her vet. Because of an infection in his eyes, they had to be removed. But that never gets Homer down, or stops him from doing anything, as readers will see when they read this. In every way except his sight, he is a normal, fun-loving cat. My aunt and I loved this book, and it brought back memories of our cat, Miranda. We especially enjoyed the chapters where Homer was “Ninja Kitty” trying to ward off a burglar, and the one where he likes to play with the rubber bands around the morning paper so he can hear their sounds. (This had gotten so nerve-wracking for Cooper in the early morning that she made him a “guitar” out of a Kleenex box, and he went to town playing it–thus solving her problem of waking up too early.) His favorite trick is to sneak up on the other cats and people, but he never quite pulls that one off. And there are so many more moving anecdotes. … The other day, as we visited the National Gallery of Art, my aunt admired a sculpture of a black cat, and she said: “Hey! That looks like the cat we’ve been reading about!” I agreed. It was Homer’s profile exactly.
I especially like the author’s website, where you can read reviews, Gwen’s blog, and related material. The FAQs about living with blind cats and other special-needs pets, and the stories from readers, show people what is possible, and it educates them. Cooper is an advocate for rescue organizations as well. Most of all, Homer’s Odyssey reminds readers that animals–and people–with disabilities should never be written off.
You Had Me at Woof and Love at First Bark, by Julie Klam.
The Puppy Diaries, by Jill Abramson. Scout, a standard retriever, Buddy her Westie