Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On the Eighth Dog Day of Christmas, . . . .

The Twelve Dog Days of Christmas
Day Eight: Good Dog Books

Still can't find the perfect gift for a reader this holiday season? Check out these three new excellent books from 2013 and 2014.

Bloodhound in Blue: The True Tales of Police Dog JJ and his Two-Legged Partner, by Adam Russ (Globe Pequot, 2013, 274 pages, $24.95)

Bloodhound in Blue is an easy interesting read, the story of a Utah peace officer, the bloodhound he trained, and how they both changed policy in police departments across the nation. Well-written, it tells the tale of long frustrations and well-earned victories as Officer Serio and JJ his bloodhound changed thinking by being patient - and successful in finding bad guys as well as lost children.

Uplifting, Four-legged "Monster" Tracker

JJ the bloodhound had a 90% find success, better than humans in the police department. He was the first tracking canine: others were patrol or attack dogs.

Interspersed with facts about the breed, Bloodhound will make you more aware of how helpful our best friends can be!
Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Partos, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves, by Laurel Braitman (Simon & Schuster, 2014, 373 pages, $28)

Best of the Current Quintet

Recent months have seen an inordinate number of incredibly fascinating dog books: among them Chaser, Decoding Your Dog, Citizen Canine (see below), Travels with Casey (also reviewed on DogEvals), and now, Animal Madness (also reviewed on DogEvals), which may be even better than the first three (but it's a close call)!


Though written by a PhD in Science History, Animal Madness is not a dry text but surprisingly fast-reading. Opening with the author's own dog who may have been 'mad' in having a mental illness/behavior issue - separation anxiety (SA) - Braitman then takes us around the world to talk to experts in animal topics, wild and domesticated and tame, and the situations they must adapt to, successfully or not. From elephants to parrots and beyond.

Another easy read, Madness can be skipped from section to section but the thread of Braitman's personal experience of having an SA dog is the glue that holds various chapters together and ends the stories with closure.

Dr. Braitman can also be heard giving a TED talk. Neither the talk nor the book should be missed!
Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs, by David Grimm (Public Affairs [Perseus Book Group], 337 pages, 2014, $26.99)

Family. Person. Citizen.

Recent history of the canine-human relationship has evolved so that our dog has become nearly a member of the family, followed by a few cases of Fido being considered legally a person, so is 'citizen' far behind?

Dr. Grimm, a geneticist and journalist, traces the canine story over the past several decades and centuries as Dog has gradually moved into our homes and into our hearts.

This third easy-reading book is as fascinating as the previous two. Learn about the amazing origin of the ASPCA (betcha can't guess how it got started!). Are animal abusers really more prone than non-animal abusers to become serial killers?

The author, like Dr. Braitman, is fortunate to have face-to-face conversations with the movers and shakers of the dog world of scientists, veterinarians and trainers. And he doesn't leave out cats, either!

Tomorrow: It's a Wrap!

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