Sit and stay for these mini-reviews of books that salute pets

November 23, 2015


If you read "My Old Dog: Rescued Pets With Remarkable Second Acts" (New World Library) and don’t want to run out to a shelter and rescue a senior pet, you have a heart of flint.

The book, written by Laura T. Coffey and photographed by Lori Fusaro, champions a sometimes-forgotten segment of the animal shelter population.

The sad fact is, a lot of shelters consider dogs over age 3 difficult to place, so they don’t make a great effort to find them homes. By the time they’re 7, they’ve been written off and often meet an early demise. "My Old Dog" goes a long way toward debunking the idea that senior shelter dogs don’t have much to offer.

The book started as a photo project by Fusaro. Coffey wrote about it for the "Today" show website, and it generated so much interest that they decided to do the book.

It features 19 dogs, ages 7 to 18. There’s Remy, a 9-year-old pit bull adopted by three nuns who walked into a shelter and announced they were after a dog that no one else wanted; there’s Akita, a fierce-looking 15-year-old who came to her new home not allowing anyone to touch her but who now is family; and Rocky, a 15-year-old golden retriever who lives in a nursing home and comforts women with dementia.

"My Old Dog" will make readers rethink their attitudes toward senior shelter dogs. And who knows, maybe even adopt one.

And a friendly tip: November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month. Beat the crowds and get yours now.

Some other books worth a nuzzle:

"Cats Galore: A Compendium of Cultured Cats" by Susan Herbert (Thames & Hudson): Artist Herbert has been re-imagining famous events with cats for a while now. In the delightful "Cultured Cats," she reproduces some of her more popular works and adds a bundle of new ones. Cat lovers will find much to like, but even a noncat person will be amused by her renderings. (The re-creation of the chariot race from the 1959 version of "Ben Hur" is especially fun.)

"Buddies: Heartwarming Photos of GIs and Their Dogs in World War II" by L. Douglas Keeney (Zenith Press): Military historian and researcher Keeney presents wonderful vintage photos and stories of soldiers and the animals that went to war with them. And he doesn’t stop at dogs — monkeys, cats and even a pelican are included.

"Shake Cats" by Carli Davidson (Harper Design): Following in the paw prints of "Shake Dogs" and "Shake Puppies," "Shake Cats" features more than 60 cats of all ages, almost all rescues, shaking — and generally not looking too pleased. Cat lovers will shake with excitement at this feline follow-up.

"Elle & Coach: Diabetes, the Fight for My Daughter’s Life, and the Dog Who Changed Everything" by Stefany Shaheen with Mark Dagostino (Hachette Books): After her 8-year-old daughter, Elle, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Shaheen learned and did as much as she could to combat Elle’s condition. It wasn’t until the family adopted a lifesaving medic-alert dog named Coach that things changed for the better.

"Bread and a Dog" by Natsuko Kuwahara (Phaidon Press): Through 100 photographs, food stylist Kuwahara documents her morning meals — and the reaction by her ever-present mixed-breed dog, Kipple. Each photo — colorful, elegant, simple and enticing — includes comments from Kipple. ("Onions. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s not your finest hour.")

"Cats on the Job: 50 Fabulous Felines Who Purr, Mouse, & Even Sing for Their Supper" by Lisa Rogak (St. Martin’s Press): Let Fido and Rover work security and sniff out criminals. Cats such as Ickle and Heisenberg have other methods of contributing to society — they’re furniture testers at a cat-furniture factory in Michigan. Rogak introduces readers to cats that are mousers, circus performers and foster moms (for a litter of puppies, no less). Mostly, the featured creatures are warm companions to humans, not a bad lot in life.

"Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway" by Peter Zheutlin (Sourcebooks): Over the last 18 years, Greg Mahle has rescued more than 30,000 dogs, loading up his truck with as many as 90 dogs and bringing them from Gulf Coast shelters to new homes in the Northeast. Zheutlin tells the story of this dog savior and the others who help him, and in the process, educates readers about issues such as kill shelters and pet overpopulation.

 

 


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