Monday, June 29, 2020

Book Review: Maddie on Things (Delightful photos of a dog on. . . things!)

Maddie on Things: A Super Serious Project About Dogs and Physics, by Theron Humphrey (Chronicle Books, 2013, pages, $15.95)

You've seen this book in your bookstore for a long time, but passed it by. I'll wager the next time you see it, you will purchase it.

A Comfort Book

Maddie on Things is a comfort book, and now even a calendar, to take with you on your own cross-country drive and open up to look at a few more wondrous photos of Maddie and her comfortable contortions until you turn off the lights in your motel room and bid the good day a good night.

A Wild Idea

Written and photographed by a northern Idaho fellow who drove 65,000 miles in 365 days with his best friend, Maddie, a Georgia gal from a shelter herself, a very patient coonhound with remarkable balance, Maddie on Things is so grand that it’s hard to explain how creative the photos are.

Where's Maddoe?

In the words of the author, these photos are indeed ‘love songs to a wonderful dog.’

Maddie has incredible canine patience along with incredible inborne balance.
Kaniksu, ID, June 2012
See her on a tire then inside a tire. See her on a fridge then in a fridge, on a sign and in front of a sign. See her ‘driving’ a police car. You will want your own Maddie!

Saratoga, CA, May 2012
This Wild Idea

Author Humphrey happened upon the idea for his book quite by a fortuitous accident but continued it throughout his road trip and followed it up with a website,, in which he features photos of his Maddie. Check it out for more photos of Maddie – I simply can’t find my favorite (there are so many). You will be so amazed that you will want your own copy of Maddie. And your own Maddie!

Just Loungin' Around

Maddie on Things, the pictorial chronicle of Maddie’s travels, is followed by Maddie Lounging on Things: A Complex Experiment Involving Canine Sleep Patterns, because, of course, after traveling thousands of miles, Maddie needs to relax – and nap she does, everywhere. Isn’t it amazing how many different places a dog can fit into and onto, to sleep?

Caveat: This book was purchased for review.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Book Review: Swindle (kids swindled out of a Babe Ruth trading card)

Swindle, by Gordon Korman (Scholastic, 2012, 251 pages, $6.99, grades 4-7, ages 9-12)

A Plan, A Plan, You Gotta Have a Plan

The very prolific Gordon Korman of No More Dead Dogs fame has done it again (but earlier) with a plan to beat all plans (thought up by our hero, young Griffin Bing), if it will work – but it keeps changing as life keeps interfering. But it will work, that is if the gang (seven unlikely friends, each with a special talent) can come together as a team long enough to pull off an unlikely heist to get back something that was ‘stolen.’ Even Baltimore plays a part.

It all starts with a secret sleep-over in a ‘haunted’ house where hardly anyone shows up but the planner (our hero, Griffin Bing) and his narcoleptic best friend (not the dog).

Can the kids find a way to steal back the Babe Ruth (not the candy bar) trading card worth a couple of mill? Can our hero save his house with the money?

What? No Back-up Plan?

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong in a book starring 11-year-olds. How they manage to mountain-climb a house, hack into email accounts, come up with $80 to buy a ticket to a game at Madison Square Garden, and still work on their science project will astonish you with one thrill after another.

Cliffhangers in this First in the Swindle Series*

Zoobreak, Second in the Series

Would you believe the bad guy in this book is named Swindle (well, actually S. Wendell Palomino) and he swindled our hero out of a lot of money by lying to him?

Full of twists and switchbacks at the end of chapters, author Korman introduces his readers, boys and girls alike, to cliffhangers and a nice girl dog whisperer who really just whispers to the Doberman on duty.

A Mixed Motley Crew of Eleven-Year-Olds

The kids are not buddies but they each have something to contribute for their own reason so they stick together. What happens is pretty far-fetched but kid-readers will know this is just an adventure in a book that merely mimics real life. And is it ever exciting, fast-reading and full of surprises.

All in all, another wonderful book by a very prolific author.

And, oh yeah, there is a dog. Actually a Doberman. And he made the front cover.
Caveat: This book was purchased for review.
*Titles in the Swindle series:
1.     Swindle
2.     Zoobreak
3.     Framed
4.     Showoff
5.     Hideout
6.     Jackpot
7.     Unleashed
8.     Jingle

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Book Review: Tails from the Booth (amazingly expressive dog photos)

Tails From the Booth, by Lynn Terry* (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster, 2015, 128 pages, $17.99)

Remember when you were a kid in junior high or a bigger kid in high school and would go downtown to take pictures in a quick-photo booth with your best friend or your new significant other. If the former, the photos would be silly, the sillier the better: if the latter, you may be smooching.

When you first thumb through Tails From the Booth, you will stop on the pages with photos of ‘your dog’ or your dog’s breed or puppies or dogs that look like your All-American dog. Then you will go through slowly, page by page, reading the few pages with words of explanation and really appreciating each page, each photo.

Who Could Believe Dogs Can Be So Expressive?

These delightful dog photos are all the same as well as all different: some are silly and others, smoochy. With every expression in between.

The backdrops are generally red or blue curtains (like in photo booths) but sometimes the backdrops and photos themselves are sepia-toned.

Some pages feature only a single dog but most have a photo strip of four photos with two or three dogs goofing off. Where there are three dogs, one may be ‘littler’ and find himself squished in the middle peeking out. Other photo pages have both dogs mirroring each other – each looking right in one photo, left in the second, up, then down; tongues out, or more serious, or merely smiling at you, or laughing. Other photos tell a story in four pictures.

Coffee Table Book

Tails is a book to ‘read’ to your grandchild right before lights-out or when settling down for a nap (both of you!). Kids will have their favorite photos.


Props are few and far between – collars and tennis balls, but the only props really needed are the dogs themselves.

Chapters and. . .Notecards!

My Tale of the Booth, Going Viral, Rescuing Deedee, A Day in the Life, Man’s (and Woman’s) Best Friend (starring each named star in the book). . .and best yet, you can also purchase a dozen notecards (like I did!).


It seems only book reviewers read the Acknowledgments or the Forward so let me direct you to this Dedication: “This book is dedicated. . . to. . . our cute little pup of a daughter, Adelaide, without whom this book would have been completed so very much sooner.”

Test Questions

There is one cat in this book: can you find it? And what do you think the final page should look like?
Caveat: This book was purchased for review.
* On FaceBook – Lynn Terry Photography – and on Instagram

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Product Evaluation: Bait Bag or Treat Pouch?

Bait Bag or Treat Pouch?

Do you call it a bait bag or a treat pouch? I usually say ‘bait bag’ but if I’m around a new dog training/behavior client, I may call it a ‘treat pouch.’

I have purchased probably every kind, every size, every color that exists and still prefer one or two models, depending on my purpose.

Pocket Pouch by WoofHoof

WoofHoof spells treats, TRETS: T for Trust, R for Respect, E for Empathy, T for Teamwork, and S for Success. That’s something nice to keep in mind.

More than 10 years ago I came across a dog treat pouch from WoofHoof at a dog trade show. Loved the burgundy color and the magnetic closure but it clipped on to my waistband, which I never got used to and it also had a large flap covering the opening. It comes in seven colors. I’ll have to see if I can find it now, after falling in love with this little treat pouch by WoofHoof.

When WoofHoof came out with a model that had a built-in box clicker I wanted to get one to try but life intervened (meaning: I procrastinated) and I no longer see it on the website, (easy to remember). However, it’s coming back – can’t wait!

Recently, however, I saw WoofHoof has a pocket pocket for a few treats that just fit into the front pocket of your jeans or sweatpants and hook on with an incredibly strong magnet. Love the colors so much that I bought the whole set of five!

I used the WoofHoof for walking a dog: it holds just a few treats which is all I need – one for the first pee and two for every poop plus a few if we run into a dog that causes a ruckus. (If you treat every pee, you may end up with a dog who marks, just for the treats! This also slows down the walk, as if it weren’t slow enough with a ‘nosey’ canine.)

I love my black WoofHoof the most - and it’s washable! Woo, Hoo! I just put it in my pocket, ensure the magnet is engaged and don’t even feel it is there. So much so that it stays there all day, even when I am not ‘dogging.’ The leftover kibble I add to my dog’s next meal.

I love my hot pink and cool brown pocket-pockets. The item also comes in purple and blue, which I have given as gifts. A good fashion bargain at $14.95 too. I suppose one could even use it to stash a key or pocket money or credit cards!*

What would I change? First, I’d like someone to show me how to position it without losing treats – if I insert it into my pocket so only the cute tab shows it is at an angle and I am so afraid that I will leak treats. If I position it perfectly upright, part of the pocket sticks out. And I would love it to have a magnetic closure – many’s the time I have put my hand in MY pocket to get a non-existent treat instead of reaching into the Pouch Pocket’s pocket where the treats are.

Just call me a fashionable klutz. It may be best-for-me to try it in a back pocket, too. Now I just have to fit into those jeans!

“Insert Treats Above”

WoofHoof also carries a dog tag cover so you and your dog can match. (The Peace Tag in eight colors and nine designs [paw print, deer, “Rescued,” “Bonkers for Balls,” “Squirrel Patrol,” tiara, “My Little Devil,” “Insert Treats Above,” or “The Cat Did It, at $6.95)
Batik dog collars at only $13.95 and a product line for horse people (I may just get the cell phone case!), which includes a lovely, lovely T-shirt for $14.95 (again in burgundy for me!)

*Inadvertently, I found I could attach the brown Pocket Pouch to the other side of my slacks and put my phone inside – not too secure, but better than holding it for an entire walk’s duration. Now I have simply got to get the WoofHoof phone case!

Caveat: The treat pouches were purchased for review.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Book Review: Bringing Vincent Home, part 2 (OT) (1968, soldier, burn unit, Texas, Baltimore)

Bringing Vincent Home, by Madeleine Mysko* (Plain View Press, 2007, 182 pages, $14.95)

Bringing Vincent Home was the fifth and final book club selection of the Veterans Book Group in Columbia, Maryland. (For my review itself, read here.) Today we discussed the group’s opinion of the book – with invited guest, author Madeleine Mysko!

During this final session, we were so fortunate to be able to welcome the author herself, Madeleine Mysko, who began by talking about why she wrote the book. It was 10 years in the reminiscing and another 10 in the drafting and rewriting.

Mysko joined the Army not so much out of patriotism as to help soldiers and, as a matter of fact, had always been a writer. She became a nurse, received orders to Viet Nam, got married and, since the Army tried to station (assign) married soldiers together, her travel orders were postponed until her husband could also deploy; however, their contracts expired before they could ship out.

The author began her writing journey with a piece of non-fiction, which morphed into a memoir and finally a work of fiction, a thinly veiled autobiography.

Our book group wholeheartedly recommended Bringing Vincent Home and not only because the author was amongst us on Zoom. One of us had gone to highschool in San Antonio, TX, where Vincent took place. Another pair of former soldiers in the group had been nurses; one, even a burn-unit nurse at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. One had seen duty in Viet Nam as a young officer whose unit experienced four KIAs. Another had been a Vietnamese linguist. All of us felt welcomed into the book and also felt part of the book because we had lived so much of it: we reminisced about the military culture but also about the Berrigans and the Catonsville Nine.

We were fascinated to hear that the author saw herself in several of the characters though not the protagonist. The novel took place in the late 60s, written by a nurse in 2007 who, at the time the story took place, was the same age as the nurses depicted. The protagonist was a mother of a soldier in 1968 and most of the book club members (and author) are currently in the grandparent age group. Quite a cross-generational experience as the circle goes round and round.

We disagreed as to whether or not the epilogue was necessary, a la The Wonder Years.

Mysko was also concerned whether her memory of the burn unit was authentic: we assured her that most readers would think so and she later suggested that the few who might know burn-units would remember that Vincent is a work of fiction and that authors have poetic license!

Although Bringing Vincent Home could have been titled Kitty’s Journey, we all felt that she was the epitome of moms everywhere – things happened to her and through her. It was amazing how much we came to learn about the other characters through the unobtrusive, calm and supportive personality of Kitty, the mom. Everything happens because of her: people open up to her.

First Look

Ah, the cover: Mysko searched far and wide for the perfect depiction of Kitty’s house, the home to which Vincent would hopefully return; however, the publisher easily convinced her to feature a depiction of the Viet Nam Wall, a decision Mysko is well pleased with.

Bringing Vincent Home is a book I will take down from my bookshelf at least once a year to read again. It should be required for highschool history classes as well as military leadership courses and medical schools.

Caveat: This book was a selection of the Veteran’s Book Group, a program at the Howard County, MD, Public Library.

* Madeleine Mysko also authored two books of poetry: Crucial Blue and In The Margins as well as the longer 2015 novel Stone Harbor Bound. A former burn-unit nurse in the Army, she currently teaches writing in the Baltimore area.                            

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Book Review: Soldier Dogs, Book 4, Ace - Victory at Normandy (French boy, paradog, plus a girl!)

Soldier Dogs: Victory at Normandy (Ace), by Marcus Sutter (Harper Collins/Childrens, 2019, 178 pages, $7.99, grades 3-7, ages 8-12)*

Facts and Fun

The book series, Soldier Dog, teaches more history than a history book! Ace, a parachuting ace Boston Terrier, was actually a pet dog in Cleveland, Ohio, who was donated by his kids and family to the military for the “duration” of World War 2 in a program called Dogs for Defense.

Book 4 in the series is a bit different from the first three (also reviewed): it takes place primarily as the story of two European children, Henri (French) and Elle (a war orphan), and three dogs, not one: Ace, a US military Boston Terrier; Krieger, a Nazi Doberman; and Brigitte, a French dog that used to live with Henri before she was conscripted by the occupying forces - and how their lives intersect (along with a White Fox). And, of course, Jake, the US soldier.

Each chapter features a different drawing of Ace, in uniform! Perhaps the reader can guess how it foreshadows what will happen in the chapter. In addition, much of the book is told from the dog’s point of view. But, who is the White Fox? And how can two kids save a dog from of all things, a tree?

Behind the Lines on D-Day in France: Lessons Learned

What could be more exciting than each chapter being a cliffhanger with capture by the Nazis, escape from the Nazis, getting lost, finding their way again, and adventure after adventure all with a happy ending (but bittersweet for some – that is the lesson of growing up). And hunger and loss and worry/concern about family - and hiding. And facing fear.

New Words and Conversation-Starters

New vocabulary introduced includes tripwire and krieger while the following quotes may spark a conversation or two:

“Now that you’ve been identified, your usefulness to us has changed—”
“It hasn’t changed the fact that I can speak eight languages, forge federal documents, and knock a man out with my bare hands,” snapped Mother. . . . a trained combatant, journalist and spy. . . . (p. 21)

Ace. . . savored the salty, fatty tang of the treat; it reminded him of week-old bacon from behind the trash can, only better. (p. 31)

The mission called for Ace to be doing all sorts of tasks. . . right after they’d landed. First, Ace was going to check for any oncoming soldiers. Then Ace was going to suss out any enemy dogs and lead them on a wild chase before narrowly escaping them and returning. THEN he was going to lead . . . and notify Jake of any tripwires, mines or other booby traps that the enemy had laid for them on the beach—all before they headed to the meeting point! (p. 89)

The Doberman looked less like a dog and more like a weapon of war built by the Germans. Her pointed face reminded him of a machine gun bullet, and her ears looked like two pointed turrets on the side of a black fortress. (p. 80)

What Parents Will Like

The author has included a page of German and French words, the usual poster of Ace, and several pages and timelines about D-Day and World War 2, fascinating for parents to recall from their history class days and to engage in their youngster in conversation.

And, here’s a secret: the last page is words to live by for the rest of your life.
Caveat: This book was purchased for review.
* and let's not forget Sargeant Stubby!

The complete series, each with a poster of the dog:
4. Ace – Victory at Normandy (Boston Terrier)
5. Boss – Battle of the Bulge (Alaskan husky)
6. Buster – Heroes on the Homefront (yellow lab)
7. Jack - Shipwreck on the High Seas (Boxer)

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Book Review: Soldier Dogs, Book 3, Stryker: Secret Mission Guam (WW2, Iwo Jima, boy, messenger dog)

Soldier Dogs: Secret Mission: Guam (Stryker), by Marcus Sutter (Harper Collins/Childrens, 2019, 185 pages, $7.99, grades 3-7, ages 8-12)*

History Comes Alive Again With a Canine Hero – This Time, A Messenger Dog

Soldier Dogs is a series that teaches more history than a history book! Stryker, a Doberman, was actually a Marine dog not an Army dog, as all Marines will be quick to point out.

The Second Battle of Guam - Inspiring

Each chapter features a different drawing of Stryker, a Doberman. Perhaps the reader can guess how it foreshadows what will happen in the chapter. In addition, much of the book is told from the dog’s point of view.

Bo is a Chamorro 12-year-old in the Mariana Islands, one of which is Guam. He lives with his mother, father and sister in a Japanese camp but the camp is sent on a force march and he loses his family only to find a girl Teresita who is caring for a baby and a toddler. Together they hunt for food in the jungle, become separated, are hunted by a Japanese soldier and hook up with our hero, Stryker, the Dobie messenger dog. You can’t get more exciting than that!

Lessons Learned

“It must have been rough. . . Even for a kid as tough as you.”
“I’m not tough.”
“Not tough? You’re the kind they write stories about.”
“I’m not! I’m scared all the time! I’m just doing the best I can.”
“Kid,” the marine said. “That’s what tough is.” (p. 136)

New Words and Conversation-Starters

New vocabulary introduced includes D-rations and pillboxes and perhaps the following quotes will spark a conversation or two:

The fight was ugly, desperate and breathless. . . “You okay?” the man asked, looking at Stryker. . . “Of course you are. You’re a marine.” Stryker licked the man’s bleeding arm. You need to lick wounds so they heal.  Everyone knew that – except humans. (p. 72)

Poor humans. They were good at reaching things in high branches, but other than that they couldn’t manage much by themselves. (p. 99)

Walking around on two legs was ridiculous. Stryker didn’t know how they even balanced. (p. 133)

Could it be?

One Marine featured mentioned that he had trained his family dog, Chief – could that be the Chief in the first book of the series, Air Raid Search and Rescue?
Caveat: This book was purchased for review.
Next: Ace, Victory at Normandy
* and let's not forgot Sergeant Stubby!

The complete series, each with a poster of the dog:

3. Stryker – Capture the Island (Doberman)(Secret Mission – Guam)
4. Ace – Victory at Normandy (Boston Terrier)
5. Boss – Battle of the Bulge (Alaskan husky)
6. Buster – Heroes on the Homefront (yellow lab)
7. Jack - Shipwreck on the High Seas (Boxer)

Friday, June 19, 2020

Book Review: Soldier Dogs, Book 2: Skipper: Attack on Pearl Harbor (USS West Virginia, hero boy and dog)

Soldier Dogs: Attack on Pearl Harbor (Skipper), by Marcus Sutter (Harper Collins/Children, 2018, 167 pages, $7.99, grades 3-7, ages 8-12)

History Comes Alive Again With a Canine Hero

Soldier Dogs is a series that teaches more history than a history book! Skipper, a Labrador Retriever, was left on a beach in Hawaii, abused and abandoned. She became an independent ‘dock dog’ and strong swimmer, and found a new owner, Joe, whose father was the black head cook on the USS West Virginia.

Fun, Inspiring and Totally Exciting

Each chapter features a different drawing of Skipper. Perhaps the reader can determine if it foreshadows what will happen. In addition, much of the book is told from Skipper's point of view, in the dog's own words.

Boys will learn about the Navy and ships and each book also has a girl. Millie is a Hawaiian girl who makes leis for the soldiers and sailors out of shells that Joe and his bud Kai search for on the shore.

Time after time, Joe and his dog find themselves in danger or separated and have to learn to trust each other. “She [Skipper] needed to get to Joe. She wouldn’t rest until she did. That’s when it hit her: she was why she was here.” (p. 62)

Made-Up Words and Combinations

New vocabulary introduced includes wheel machine while new phrases include “smell the morning.” Book 1 had ‘listen to the street.’

In a scene with Joe’s father aboard the ship, “Skipper led him down the corridor, deeper into the ship. They had other masters and pups to save, including Joe but maybe – just maybe – they had a chance of doing it , as long as they did it together.” (p. 89)

Hero of Pearl Harbor

In this second book we have a stowaway, enlisted sailors, an abandoned dog, a birthday surprise, the bombing of Pearl Harbor and more, that take place primarily in a couple of hours on a Sunday morning in far-off Hawaii.

Skipper’s story will give you plenty of history slid unobtrusively into a fascinating adventure, along with a poster of Skipper, a Q&A, a timeline, facts about Dogs for Defense, and more!

What We Would Have Changed

In the first book, author Marcus Sutter used the now not-preferred terms, pack and alpha and master, the latter repeated here. DogEvals in the past has written to authors about such outdated terms and may do so again.

As in Book 1, Sutter again uses pup (or boy-pup) and master to describe the boys (and young men) and men in the stories (and girl-pup).

Why Seven Books in the Series?

Are you wondering why none of the books in this series stars a golden retriever? It turns out that seven breeds of dogs were preferred by the military in WW2. Families would donate their pet dogs to a program called Dogs for Defense. Those breeds are listed below.

Skipper's story will give you plenty of history slid unobtrusively into a fascinating adventure, along with a poster of Skipper, a Q&A, a timeline, facts about Dogs for Defense, and more!

Fun Fact

Each book includes a few pages of the next in the series. Can you spot the error about Book 2 in the bonus section included in Book 1?

Caveat: This book was purchased for review.
Next: Stryker, Capture the Island

The complete series, each with a poster of the dog:
2. Skipper – Attack on Pearl Harbor (Labrador Retriever)
3. Stryker – Capture the Island (Doberman)(Secret Mission – Guam)
4. Ace – Victory at Normandy (Boston Terrier)
5. Boss – Battle of the Bulge (Alaskan husky)
6. Buster – Heroes on the Homefront (yellow lab)
7. Jack - Shipwreck on the High Seas (Boxer)