Read These Stocking Stuffers


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            Books make great stocking stuffers for pet lovers. Here are several recently released choices, including a fashion guide for dogs, a book crammed with canine trivia, a pet health bible, a cat who-done-it with a feline sleuth and a hamster care guide.

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“Dog Fashion: Haute Couture for Your Hound,” by Susie Green (Cico Books, New York, NY, 2007; $12.95). Not only does your pup need to look good and keep warm for winter, outfits are recommended for specific occasions. This book is more about fashion than function. Take the doggy wedding. The Yorkshire Terrier bride is in white (of course), her bright eyes showing behind her veil, all topped with a sparkly tiara and a bowser bling pink rhinestone Pucci collar. The Jack Russell Terrier groom wears a crisp tie and tails (oops, he already has a tail). Outfits are also suggested for Christmas, dogs seeking the preppy look and proper dog park styling for urban canines.

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“Cat Deck the Halls: A Joe Grey Mystery,” by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (William Morrow, New York, NY, 2007; $16.95). This is the 13th installment in the Joe Grey feline sleuth series. Joe Grey, feline private investigator; his girlfriend Dulcie and their tortoisehell friend Kit attempt to sniff out the killer of a man shot beneath a Christmas tree.  Happy holidays.

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“DOGS Miscellany: Dogs and Their Famous Owners….Dogs in Literature…In the Bible…Tales of dog Heroism, Trivia, Jokes, A  Doggy Dictionary and Much More!” by     J. A. Wines (Delacorte Press, New York, NY, 2006; $10). This little book wins the award for the longest sub-title ever. Previously released in the U.K., here’s a canine trivia handbook. Before microchipping and dog licensing, people did what they could so their beloved dog wouldn’t be lost. In 1910, King Edward VII had this inscription on his Wirehair Fox Terrier’s collar in case he ever wandered far, “I belong to the King.” It seems if Caesar got away, everyone knew where the King lived. Also, the book is filled with proverbs, funny anecdotes and short stories about man’s best friend.

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“Love Your DOG Pictures: How to Photograph Your Dog with Any Camera,” by Jenni Bidner (Watson-Guptill Pubications, New York, NY, 2006; $19.95). The author says that the secret in getting that great shot is capturing the spirit of your dog. She deals with both film and digital cameras, and their individual ‘issues.’ Lots of tips on the sorts of topics you’d see covered in any basic photography book, such as lighting and angles. However, few books cover taking coat color into consideration, as this one does.  Maybe this is a book to check out before Christmas Day so you can snap that perfect shot of puppy in Santa’s lap.

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“The Nature of Dogs,” photographs by Mary Ludington (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2007; $35). Stunning, yet simply elegant photographs – all in black and white – capturing the spirit of 60 breeds, with text on all 60. 

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“The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health: Home Edition, editor Cynthia Kahn (Published by Merck & Co., Whitehouse Station, NJ, 2007; $15.61). This unusual price is at www.merckbooks.com. The retail price is $22.95 – and even at it’s a bargain. This giant can only be stuffed inside a stocking on steroids – it’s huge, 1,345 pages to be exact – of animal health information. Not stopping with dogs, cats and horses, there’s information on fish, reptiles, ferrets, rabbit, and chinchilla care, and more. This book is the definitive guide to your pet’s health, and includes the latest in cutting edge medicine, compiled by over 200 of the best veterinarians in their field. Simply put, there’s nothing else like it.

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“Afternoons with Puppy: Inspirations From a Therapist and His Animals,” by Aubrey H. Fine and Cynthia J. Eisen (Purdue University Press, West Lafayette, IN, 2008; $24.95).
Partly a guidebook to those seeking to utilize animals in therapeutic settings, and partly life lessons that animals teach. The authors recount many heartwarming and heart-wrenching success stories based on Fine’s experience with his birds and dogs, particularly Puppy, a formerly abused golden retriever. We certainly have a lot to learn from animals – as described repeatedly in this book. Most of all, what the authors haven’t figured out – and so far, no one has – is exactly how animals can sometimes provide more effective relief than taking a pill. There is a healing power to pets.

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“My Hamster,” by Peter Fritzche (Barron’s Educational Series, Hauppauge, NY, 2007; $13.49). Especially at this time of year, consider buying a book before impulsively buying the real thing. Lots here about proper care and nutrition for these little guys. Great and useful advice for kids and adults on nippy hamsters, how to hold a hamster and the various kinds of hamsters and how their needs vary depending on what you have.

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“All I Need To Know I Learn From My Cat (And Then Some),” by Suzy Becker (Workman Publishing, New York, NY, 2007; $8.95). Reissue of a fun little illustrated book with 48 new pages of wisdom and observations of life with cats. Fun, funny, sweet and the observations about cats are, well, right on. One observation: “There is always time for a nap.”

Kids Books:

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“The Shelter Dog,” written and illustrated by Christine Davis (Lighthearted Press, Portland, OR, 2008; $11.95). This author writes with a passion about pets rarely seen in kids’ books. As a result, this book sparkles with real feelings, teaching compassion in a meaningful way. When you adopt an adult dog from a shelter, who benefits more – you or the dog? Certainly the dog benefits, but perhaps we do too – far more than we know. Even when adults reading her work, we’re swayed to believe, as she says, ‘Every dog is part angel.’ Also available at www.lightheartedpress.com.

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“Skinny Brown Dog,” by Kimberly Willis Holt, illustrated by Donald Saaf (William Holt and Company, New York, NY, 2007; $16.95). Benny the baker makes a new friend, a skinny brown dog. A charming book which includes all sorts of talking animal characters, for younger readers.