Here's a sampling of fine new pet books for your summer reading list:
"Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story of America's Canine Heroes," by Maria Goodavage (Penguin Publishing, New York, NY, 2012; $26.95). Truly an excellent read. Although the author is known for her work as a dog writer, she's a storyteller and a journalist first. Goodavage doesn't glamorize these dogs. She doesn't need to; just telling their stories is compelling. The truth is that insiders in the military consider our "war dogs" indispensable. Read this book, and you'll discover why. Among the surprising revelations, in addition to the record number of soldiers coming home with posttraumatic stress disorder syndrome, some military dogs are also returning with PTSDS.
chlamydia. Reindeer seek narcotic escape (from who knows what) by chomping on hallucinogenic mushrooms. And when it comes to our "cousins," the great apes, nearly any contagious disease we're susceptible to, they are, too. Sneeze on a gorilla and you might make the ape sick. However, it also turns out there are many ways in which wild animals can help us, and vice versa. Bottom line, we're all connected.
"Sophie: The Incredible True Story of the Castaway Dog," by Emma Pearse (Lifelong Books, Boston, MA, 20012; $25). Clearly a beach read, imagine "Gilligan's Island" without Gilligan, the Skipper, Mary Ann, Ginger or anyone else -- except one dog. Sophie fell out of a boat, and swam for some time before reaching a mostly deserted island. She lived on local wildlife, even eluding the local wildlife rangers. This story sounds about as factual as "Gilligan's Island," but it is a true account, with the author filling in the missing pieces on what it must have been like for Sophie to live virtually alone on a deserted island.
"Juvenile Delinquent Dogs: The Complete Guide to Saving Your Sanity and Successfully Living With Your Adolescent Dog," by Sue Brown (The Light of Dog LLC, Sedalia, CO, 2012; $24.95). Even canine "teenagers" can wreak havoc, and all that foundation work you did early for your puppy may go to waste. This book is very well organized and covers a lot of ground. Do dogs really want to please us? And do they lose this hard wiring as teenagers? When should you punish your pooch, if at all? What do you do for dogs who develop fears (even if they weren't fearful as puppies)? This book is an excellent resource for avoiding all those juvenile delinquent problems in the first place.
"Dog Is My Copilot: Rescue Tales of Flying Dogs, Second Chances, and the Hero Might Live Next Door," by Patrick Regan (Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City, MO, 2012; $16.99). Paws 'N Pilots is a national non-profit organization for volunteer pilots who transport pets from places where they're on 'death row' to new places where they have a far better chance of adoption. This program is magnificent, and so are these individual stories. The PR material nails it: "Unexpected things happen when dogs reach cruising altitude." The book is filled with color photos that capture the moment, often taken by the pilots themselves.
"Moo Kitty Finds a Home," by Valerie L. Veltre (Squidgy Press, Manheim, CA, 2011; $16.95). This could be a beach book for the 7-year-old crowd (give or take a year or two). It tells the story of a black-and-white cat who looks like a cow, and is given up by one family, but angel cats appear to ultimately find Moo Kitty a permanent home, where once again he is loved. A very nice message about pet adoption.
And, of course, I'd like to suggest my own books, "Good Dog!" and "Good Cat!" available wherever ebooks are sold (Tribune Media Services, Chicago, IL 2011; $2.99). I answer several years of your questions about dog and cat behavior in these books. You'll better understand not only how to deal with behavioral issues, but also what motivates pets to act the way they do. The Q&A format makes these books easy to pick up and put back down again, perfect for the beach or the bathroom. If you enjoy my columns, and for under $3, how can you go wrong?
(Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is http://www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.)