A CONTEMPORARY LIBRARY FOR CANINE COMPANIONS
by Maya Stewart
For anyone who lives with or plans to live with one or more canine companions there are essential references that should be either read or readily available. These include the phone number for the local Poison Control Center (listed in the front of most phone directories or available through your local ER), the phone number and location of the nearest after hours Emergency Pet Clinic (confirm they still exist and verify the directions), a canine home health reference guide (to help with minor issues and help you understand when to go to the vet), a puppy raising book if you are planning a puppy or have one, and a comprehensive behavior and training book with a section on problem solving. My inclination would be to include a book on nutrition but diet is a matter of preference, lifestyle choices and accessibility so I won't include this under essential references although I think everyone would agree there is an important connection between feeding our dogs and good health. The recent headlines about commercial animal food recalls is a case in point.
The goal of this article is to present canine companions with successful and positive options not only in the essential categories just mentioned, but also in emotional / spiritual and humorous categories. I offer a sampling of literary resources that explore a wide range of fascinating and well written books which will provide you opportunities to enhance your relationship(s) with your canine companion(s).
I chose these books specifically because there is more in them that works than doesn't. However, not every book is absolutely right about everything, therefore I recommend taking what works for you and leaving what doesn't, with knowledge of your own philosophy and your dog's unique nature in mind. Just as we try to vary our dogs' diets I suggest reading widely for the same reason, to provide balance over time.
Here is a sample library for people who truly live with dogs as opposed to people who have dogs. May you find guidance, inspiration, laughter, solace, understanding, information, and perhaps new ideas and paths to follow with your canine companion(s) among these wonderfully written and engaging books.
The books included here are divided into sections by interest but are in no order of preference. With one exception each of the books is roughly between $10-15 US. The opinions expressed in the reviews are not necessarily those of Hudson Labradoodles
Canine health care is changing and becoming more open-minded in its inclusion of alternative therapies in cooperation with conventional medicine. Whatever your approach to canine healthcare it best serves your canine companion(s) for you to be well informed. In the event of a health care issue a well informed person is in a much better position to ask informed questions and seek the most beneficial and appropriate care. Having good health care references quickly available can guide you in that endeavor as well as assisting in the understanding of tests, results and diagnoses. As always, prevention is your best defense.
Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, by James M. Giffin, M.D. and Lisa D. Carlson, D.V.M. (Hardcover)
A must have traditional health care reference. Contains a very useful Index of Signs and Symptoms, a great chapter on Emergencies, and a comprehensive Index. This book covers every canine health dimension. Although I've taken some good natured kidding (and respect) from my vet for my atypical medical understanding, this book is very helpful both before and after a visit to the vet. Very useful in considering what questions to ask your vet and in increasing your understanding once a diagnosis has been made. I consider this book invaluable although you must take care not to get ahead of the vet and scare yourself into thinking the worst. Best when balanced with a holistic reference such as Volhard and Brown. Highly recommended.
The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog, by Wendy Volhard and Kerry Brown, D.V.M. (Paperback))
Not just for the holistic crowd. Offers traditional and holistic medical points of view in tests, treatments and solutions. The information on interpreting blood and urine testing is worth the price of the book alone, as is the information on vaccinations. This is an excellent reference book but I don't accept the dietary recommendations. I refer to it often enough to keep it on my desk rather than on my bookshelf. Highly recommended.
Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, by Richard H. Pitcairn, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Susan Hubble Pitcairn (Paperback)
Useful information and practical tips for how to provide a more natural and holistic approach to animal health. Includes information on some very current issues such as environmental pollutants (inside and outside), Mad Cow Disease, Lyme Disease, vaccinations and other hot button topics. The primary focus is on homeopathic, herbal and nutritional remedies. Strictly for those with an interest in holistic health care and lifestyle.
Veterinarians Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs: Safe and Effective Alternative Treatments and Healing Techniques from the Nations Top Holistic Veterinarians, by Martin Zucker (Paperback)
This book is full of information for the person interested in using more holistic remedies but who doesn't know much about it. Recommendations from over 30 of the top holistic vets cover the foundations of good health, diet and nutrition; the basics on alternative therapies; supplements and remedies; common problems; with recommendations and information on treatment options. Lots of products and phone numbers. A very handy resource that complements standard veterinary care. Very enjoyable read with some surprising tips that make a lot of sense.
The Nature of Animal Healing: The Path to Your Pet's Health, Happiness, and Longevity, by Martin Goldstein, D.V.M. (Paperback)
Thanks to charming Labradoodle princess Raegan Sydney for leading me to this book. I refer to it often and it is a truly compassionate book by a person whose purpose in treating animals is to increase their health and quality of life rather than to merely treat their symptoms. Goldstein's practice is holistic, in the sense that he uses what works, and includes some conventional veterinary methods. For Goldstein it's all about what's best for the animal. Dr. Goldstein has a lot to say about diet. The information on vaccines is riveting and a must-read. An entire chapter is devoted to cancer. There is a chapter on the spiritual nature of animals and the death of an animal companion. I consider this book a must have for any canine library although you might not agree with everything you read. I donít; and I still say this is a wonderful, incredibly thought provoking book.
Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs: Small Doses for Small Animals, by Don Hamilton, D.V.M., (Paperback)
This is one of the best books on veterinary homeopathy for the person dedicated to practicing. Enough to get you started. The book also has good advice on when to seek help from a conventional veterinarian and it explains how homeopathy and conventional medicine can work well together. The appendix contains a glossary, homeopathic suppliers, and holistic and homeopathic organizations.
Whether you already feed a raw diet and want to improve or add variety to it, are interested in learning more about the tremendous health benefits of a raw food diet, or are considering trying it but aren't quite sure how to get started, you'll find some great information and very enjoyable reading among these books. Perhaps you'll find the book your dog's been waiting for.
Switching to Raw: A Fresh Food Diet For Dogs That Makes Sense, by Susan K. Johnson (Paperback)
Recently, while shopping collars for my rapidly growing Labradoodle puppy, Wyn, a woman approached me with many questions about him and the breed, a common occurrence I'm sure many readers have experienced. Her questions led to diet and feeding raw. Briefly said, she left the store with her regular bag of kibble and this book. I can't think of a better book for beginners. It is also a valuable addition for any raw diet feeder at any level. It will ease the concerns of anyone scared to switch and will answer all your questions with common sense and experience. Highly recommended. Maya
2nd Review of "Switching to Raw". Review written by Kate Pappas, First Time Labradoodle Owner, Los Angeles, CA (Many Thanks, Kate for a fresh perspective)
"I bought this book months before I got my Labradoodle so I could study raw feeding and decide if it would work for me. Happily, I found this book to be well written, understandable and user friendly. I like the layout, presentation, and order within the book. I think anyone would be happy with the information found here and make a sensible decision on one of the most important decisions of your dog's/Labradoodle's life. The proof, really is in eating the pudding. "
The BARF Diet: Raw Feeding for Cats and Dogs Using Evolutionary Principles, by Dr. Ian Billinghurst (Paperback)
BARF stands for "Biologically Appropriate Raw Food" or "Bones and Raw Food". The premise is that animals are healthier when fed a diet based on whole raw foods. This book is packed with information for both the beginner and the experienced BARFer. It is engaging in style but doesn't waste a word. The science is all here: the who, what, when, where, and how and in easily digestible (forgive the pun) language. Anyone contemplating feeding raw needs to have more than one book on the subject and this is one of the must haves. Highly recommended.
Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones, by Tom Lonsdale, (Paperback)
Work Wonders is a lot of fun to read, simple to understand, and full of very useful information. The book offers advice on how to find reliable and affordable food sources and how to store food safely; links to related internet discussion; and information on parasitic and systemic diseases passed through food. The author is an Australian veterinarian with a great sense of humor and the ability to have us see a dog's dietary needs from the dog's perspective using nature, science, and common sense.
Raw Dog Food: Make it Easy for You and Your Dog, by Carina Beth MacDonald (Paperback)
You'll get more science from the Billinghurst books, however this is a wonderfully humorous and no-nonsense approach to basic raw feeding, and no one says you have to be a rocket scientist to feed raw. There are a lot of practical tips and clear instructions for the beginner to help make raw feeding simple and sensible. For someone anxious or concerned about feeding raw I would pair this book with Dr. Lonsdale's book "Work Wonders" and relax, laugh and learn.
Love, relationships, motivation, potential, understanding, compassion, loss, grief, comfort, celebration, hope. You'll find everything here as pertains to your canine companion(s).
Animals as Teachers and Healers, by Susan Chernak McElroy (Paperback or Hardcover)
So much more than a collection of sweet animal stories. McElroy demonstrates and reminds us of what a significant role animals have in our lives. Just as McElroy's dog, Kisha, taught her (a cancer survivor) to appreciate each moment in life, I pledged to help my third and last Golden, Angus, live with cancer instead of dying with it. The challenge to maintain a positive perspective, under either circumstance, presents a tremendous opportunity for self-growth. And where did each of us find our strength? In Kisha and in Angus. McElroy survived her cancer while Kisha and Angus were both finally lost to theirs, but the lessons and inspiration provided by these and many other remarkable animals continue to give us and others strength and happiness, and to add to our understanding. A profound and touching book. Highly recommended.
Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs, by Caroline Knapp (Paperback)
Caroline Knapp's life had been worthy of an album of sad country songs. When she decided to adopt a clever, mixed breed, eight-week old mutt, Lucille, from an animal shelter her life became forever changed by Lucille's unconditional love. In this lovely and loving book, the author explores why we love what we love. Her focus and examination of the ideas and perceptions that can lead to the creation of strong bonds with dogs is fascinating. She asserts that while dogs are occasionally a substitute for other things, more often they are beautiful on their own merits and do not find value by being a substitute for something else. You will laugh and cry with Ms. Knapp and appreciate her many insights into relationships of many kinds. Ms. Knapp died of cancer at the age of 42. Her beloved and loyal companion, Lucille, was there at her bedside, faithful til the end. Particularly recommended for those interested in animal assisted therapy.
Dogs Never Lie About Love: Reflections on the Emotional World of Dogs, by Jeffrey Moussaief Masson (Paperback or Hardcover)
Masson's goal is worthy - to study the emotions and inner thinking of dogs. He provides an in depth look at how canines - domestic and wild - relate to each other and to humans. This insight can be useful for those training and for those who enjoy depth in their relationships with animals. Not surprisingly, some people remain disturbed by the idea of emotion and feeling in animals. Perhaps they would benefit from reading this book or Masson's previous "When Elephants Weep" (1995). A powerful, thoughtful, provocative book.
Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name, by Vicki Hearne (Paperback)
(Audubon Magazine chose this book as one of the thirteen most significant books about nature published in the last hundred years). The author warns that you can't work a dog from her writings. She still gets misunderstood. This is a book about the training relationship - the development of a moral code, an understanding of "the good" that influences an animal's motives and actions. To illustrate her theory Hearne uses animal psychology, philosophy, literature, science, and animal training anecdotes. The book confirms what many of us already know, that animals can think; feel; respond; and, in a sense, make decisions about how to respond to humans. Some consider this book pretentious. I, and those I've shared it, consider it exquisite.
Goodbye, Friend, by Gary Kowalski (Paperback)
When the oldest of my three Goldens began to fail about six years ago I bought this book. Armed with my glasses and a box of tissues I cried my way through the book. However, armed with the strength of this book, I realized the time for crying was after she was gone, not before, and we made our time count. When the time did come to let her go this book helped me find ways to celebrate her life and her death. Age and illness have claimed my remaining two Goldens and each time solace was to be found in this compassionate and understanding book. There are suggestions about personalized rituals, and a section of readings and poems that may have meaning for you or for a friend who has suffered a loss. Wisdom from this book has changed the experience of saying goodbye to an animal companion for several of my friends, moving it from the realm of pure grief and transforming it into a last opportunity to share the experience and memory of unconditional love. Highly recommended.
Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant (Hardcover)
My friend, dee, gave this book to me when my canine soulmate passed away last year. As I recall, her dog walker had given her a copy when she experienced a similar loss. It brought us both a tear and a smile. Okay, lots of each. While written for young children this book is perfect for anyone of any age who ever loved a dog, or to send in place of a sympathy card. Thank you, dee.
For Every Dog an Angel, by Christine Davis (Hardcover)
A small childlike storybook based on the idea that every dog has an angel to watch over them. Great comfort is offered in the idea that my "forever friend" is happy and that his "angel" helped him cross over and that he will be happy knowing I am sharing my love with the Labradoodles. A valuable source of comfort for children and adults. Gentle but not juvenile.
BEHAVIOR, TRAINING, AND PROBLEM SOLVING
This is such a complex topic that to say one book covers it all would be a disservice. I would recommend reading widely as you seek what works for your belief system about training (which may be developing) and your dog's unique nature (which also may be developing). Friends with dogs, classes, trainers you respect, experience, patience, love, common sense, humanity, and time combined with your own homework will help you make a success of your relationship with your remarkable and multi-faceted canine friend(s). Here is a pool of books that might come in handy for those times when you go "hmmm.....?".
Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog, by Carol Lea Benjamin ( (Hardcover)
I read "Mother Knows Best" for the first time more than 16 years ago on the advice of a friend and had an incredibly rewarding experience with my first Golden Retriever puppy, Tobe. With every puppy since I have re-read this book and it has served both me and them well. The house training schedule alone is worth the cost of the book. Benjamin never lets you forget that having a puppy is supposed to be fun. Benjamin's advice is common sense, positive, supportive and friendly and her writing style and cartoon illustrations help keep things in perspective no matter how the day has gone. It's no wonder this book is on the AKC recommended reading list. It's definitely on mine. More than a puppy raising book it will take you all the way from puppy raising through basic obedience, off-leash work and problem solving. Highly recommended.
The Art of Raising a Puppy, by The Monks of New Skete (Hardcover)
This was THE book of 1991 for dog people. It is humane, loving and responsible and presents a whole new way of thinking called "inseeing" which tries to see through the mind of the dog by understanding the dogís developmental stages. This way we learn how vital the lessons learned during these various stages are, and how they affect who the dog eventually becomes as an adult and the potential of the individual. The role of temperament and temperament testing is also discussed along with how this affects training and potential. Way more than a training book. A fascinating read and still cutting edge.
Good Owners, Great Dogs: A Training Manual for Humans and Their Canine Companions, by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson (Paperback)
While I don't go to Kilcommons first to look for an answer, I do look to see what he has to say and I value his opinion. If a book has one good idea I consider it worth the cost, and Kilcommons is chock full of good ideas, laced with humor, true dog stories, and photographic illustrations. The book covers about everything in the behavior/training range of possibilities so if you can't find an idea or answer elsewhere Kilcommons is a good bet. Definitely worth having as a reference.
The Other End of the Leash, by Patricia McConnell (Paperback or Hardcover)
The ability to read your dog's body language and understand how they read yours is priceless. Wonderful.
The Loved Dog: The Playful, Nonaggressive Way to Teach Your Dog Good Behavior, by Tamar Geller and Andrea Cagan (Hardcover)
This is an unusual format for a dog training book. It keeps you interested and stays with you. The book is a narrative about the author's life experiences that led her to become a dog advocate and trainer, and it is full of stories and examples that demonstrate how to teach a dog certain behaviors. It is humorous and as much an autobiography as a training book.
The Dog Listener, by Jan Fennell (Paperback)
This book has generated a mixed bag of controversy and increasing enthusiasm. The author's method is based on the idea of using the non-violent language of the wolf pack to put your dog in his rightful subordinate place, and therefore gain his understanding and cooperation. She calls this process "Amichien bonding". The success of the method lies not only in the owner mimicking canine behavior but in the establishment of house rules and a predictable daily routine for the dog. If you have dominance issues this should be useful, but I wouldn't consider it a comprehensive guide to problem solving. This is a very interesting and humane book that provides another way of looking at problems with compassion.
BEYOND BASIC TRAINING: CGC/THERAPY DOGS/CANINE SPORTS
Today there are many opportunities available beyond basic training. These books touch on just a few. Labradoodles seem able and willing to conquer almost any canine sport or service. If you have an interest in flyball, canine freestyle, skjoriing, watersports, tracking, fieldwork or any other of the many possible ways to enjoy your companion look for a good reference book that will lead you to suppliers, internet links, organizations, rules and regulations if any, and always, make sure to keep your dog safe through proper planning and awareness.
The Canine Good Citizen: Every Dog Can Be One, by Jack Volhard and Wendy Volhard (Paperback)
A great guide for teaching your dog good manners and a big help if you choose to go on to prepare for the AKC's Canine Good Citizen Test. The book goes over the elements of how a dog is tested for the CGC test and ways to approach the 10 different elements to prepare for the test. It also lets you know what you can and cannot do during the test. Helps you adjust your training to your individual dog's character and temperament.
Therapy Dogs Today: Their Gifts, Our Obligations, by Kris Butler (Paperback)
This is THE book for anyone with an interest in being part of a Therapy Dog Team, or for anyone who is already working as a Therapy Dog Team. Dogs need training to do therapy work, and people and communities need training to understand the role of dogs in our lives and how those roles change across social settings and generations. The author is deeply committed to the contribution dogs make to the quality of our lives and to how therapy dogs prove their worth in diverse settings. This is a thorough book and covers everything from our responsibility to our dogs and their training, to patients, healthcare professionals & organizations and therapy certification organizations. A must read for those with an interest.
The Beginner's Guide to Dog Agility, by Laurie Leach (Paperback)
Want to read a really fun book? Well, here you are! Great photos, clear instructions, and highlighted boxes call attention to important points, with tips on how to handle problems that might pop up in training. I really liked her caution boxes and appreciate the consideration that went into them. The training is totally positive with an emphasis on remembering to have fun. You'll learn the history of agility, how to get started, how to do advanced work and even how to build your own obstacles. Pre-agility and agility are wonderful for confidence building and for strengthening bonds with your dog. This is also a great way to channel some of your dog's energy into a positive outlet. This is a really great book to learn everything you need to get involved as a participant or to understand as an observer of this fun sport.
A Guide to Backpacking With Your Dog, by Charlene LaBelle
I love day hikes in the White Mountains with my dogs but before I ever took my first step on my own (even without a dog) I took classes with the Appalachian Mountain Club in Summer and Winter Hiking. It made sense before taking my dog Tobe up her first day hike in the early nineties to do some research into canine backpacking since these mountains are no joke. This is the book that got me started on her training and the equipment to go with us. We hit the trails at last and I was grateful I'd done my homework because it all came in handy. Tobe's backpack (a two part Wenaha made so the saddle bags could lift off the saddle pad during rest stops) fit her perfectly and she loved doing her part to help out. She had what she needed for every possibility and we pretty much encountered most of them including snow in July (she had foul weather gear including boots). We learned great trail manners from this book as well, and this began a great way to enjoy these mountains with my dogs safely and responsibly. You don't have to have mountains to backpack. State parks have great hiking trails to backpack on as well but make sure you understand the mapping and whether dogs are permitted. The definitive guide to backpacking with your dog. LaBelle remains number one in my opinion.
Anyone who lives with a Labradoodle must have a sense of humor, so I have included some fun dog books. The grownup books are suitable for children and the children's books are suitable for grownups. Enjoy.
If Only You Knew How Much I Smell You, Photographs by Valerie Shaff, Text by Roy Blount, Jr. (Hardcover)
The photos in this remarkable book match the verses so well you know that is exactly what the dog is expressing and you'll laugh, cry, sigh, and feel because you understand. One in particular reminded me of a friend and her beloved but mischievous Labradoodle even though the photo was of another breed. The expression was no doubt the same as was the perfect sentiment. "What does that mean 'expensive shoe'? I ate it because it smelled like you." Amazing photographs, witty and moving dog-speak verse. You'll hug your dog(s) a little closer.
Fay, by William Wegman (Hardcover)
Any dog lover not familiar with Wegman needs to get introduced. First there was Man Ray and when he died Wegman decided he would have a dog as a companion but would not replace Man Ray in his art. Then a fan introduced him to shy, elegant, six month old Fay Ray and Wegman was smitten. As their relationship developed Fay's expressiveness with the camera developed ever more depth, inspiring Wegman to new motifs, themes and techniques. Motherhood brought Fay a wealth of new characters and her puppies became a canine acting dynasty that survived her death in 1995. The photographs are amazing, insightful, hilarious, and beautiful. The narration conveys the immense respect and deep affection Mr. Wegman had for Fay. This book is for dog lovers, not just for those who appreciate art. Don't miss this.
The Adventures of Taxi Dog, by Debra and Sal Barracca (Hardcover)
Maxie, a stray dog in New York City, is adopted by Jim, a taxi driver, with whom he rides and shares adventures each day. This is a great way to celebrate the sights of New York City. Enjoy hunting for the many cats hidden on each page. The book is easily enjoyed by all ages. It is warm, funny, rhythmic, gorgeously illustrated and full of family sentiment. Very sensitive. Part of a series.
Dog Breath: The Horrible Trouble with Hally Tosis, by Dave Pilkey (Hardcover)
A very funny story with wonderfully creative artwork. In this children's book for all ages sweet dog Hally, who lives with the Tosis family, has such bad breath the parents plan to give her away until she saves the day. A great adventure, full of humor and wit, amusing puns, bright and colorful illustrations. Complete with a happy ending. Pilkey has a number of very funny "children's" books including "Dogzilla" and "The Halloweiner".
Walter the Farting Dog, by William Kotzwinkle (Hardcover)
I don't care how old you are -
there's an inner child in there who knows (as do all children) that dog
farts are funny...something between disgusting and hilarious. Walter
perfect character, a dog who has a gas problem. Anyone with any talent for
sound effects could have a lot of fun entertaining the youngsters. Yes, the
book's content is a little crude but it is not vulgar. It's an entertaining
book with some collage style art work and some pretty funny dialogue. Enjoy
more in the series.
© Copyright 2008 Curtis Rist and Hudson Labradoodles
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use of images or articles is
punishable to the fullest extent of the law.