Dawn Armstrong
Special to the Tribune

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December 9, 2013
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Pet column: Banner year for animal media gifts

The present that gets opened again and again is available in fun and fascinating forms for anyone interested in animal lore. In addition to the classics there are tearjerkers, popular and hardcore science, and just plain fun titles begging to be gifted this season. There’s a new video game for the aspiring veterinarian.

For those of a certain age who read E.B. White in New Yorker magazine, find fun and insight as well as good writing in “E.B. White on Dogs.” His granddaughter compiled into one easy read the columnist’s essays, letters, sketches and poems reflecting his lifelong humorous and serious relationships with dogs and farm animals. For the younger set, in his lifetime (1899-1985) White authored “Charlotte’s Web,” “Stuart Little” and “The Trumpet of the Swan.” Jon Katz of Bedlam Farm blog fame just released “Second Chance Love” chronicling how he won the trust of a formerly feral dog while he and his wife, Maria, were developing trust and love for each other. A former journalist and repeat New York Times best selling author, Katz is known for his insight on relating to and training dogs, and especially for his appreciation of working Border Collies.

Marc Bekoff, respected pioneer in the field of anthrozoology and author of “The Emotional Lives of Animals” has a new page-turner for anyone curious about animal and human behavior “Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed, The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation.” The latest from biologist Marta Williams is “My Animal, My Self: A Breakthrough Way to Understand How You and Your Animal Reflect Each Other.” Williams explores how our animals connect to us and mirror our experiences, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. “Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Free-Thinking Dog” by Ted Kerasote has been followed by “Pukka’s Promise” an intriguing examination of the future of dogs in the wake of Merle’s death. “Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and An Extraordinary Friendship” by Tom Ryan is an inspiring transformation tale. “In the mountains Atticus became more of what he’d always been, and I became less — less frantic, less stressed, less worried, and less harried. I felt comfortable letting him lead, and he seemed to know what I needed. He always chose the best route, if ever there was a question, and my only job was to follow.”

Fascinating for all ages, “Underwater Dogs Kids Edition” combines rhymes with amazing internet favorites and brand new photos of canine expressions and athleticism in the water. Dr. Gary Weitzam, President of the San Diego Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, collaborated with National Geographic to produce “How to Speak Dog.” Intended for young students, the book appeals to all ages because it offers not only lessons on canine body language but also compelling explanations of Hound Sounds that will have readers asking their pooches to “speak” to demonstrate Weitzmans’s translations.

In the video department, the “AVMA Animal Hospital Video Game” takes players from new veterinary school graduate status to Chief Veterinarian, making diagnosis and treatment decisions for dogs, cats, guinea pigs, birds, and turtles. Developed by Game Gurus and supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, it is aimed at grade levels 4-8, but appeals to all.

Story telling is perhaps the most powerful medium. Animal story themes can nurture compassion, responsibility, and respect, which are not always natural virtues. Reading lists for suggested age levels are available from the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA. Titles range from classics to new releases. Many are featured in the free “My Reading Buddy’ practice reading program at the South Lake Tahoe public library on Wednesday afternoons. For more information, call 530-542-2857.

— Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.” Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Dec 10, 2013 08:34PM Published Dec 11, 2013 02:23PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.