There are some truly great books out there for dog lovers. I think I have most of them in my ever-growing collection, but wanted to mention some old ones and some new that might be a great holiday gift for those like-minded, who enjoy expanding either their knowledge base or want to better understanding the human-canine bond.
"Sleeping with the Beast" by Dale Ryan is a beautifully crafted book that details the life she and her family lead with their 5 dogs and dogs that live nearby and are considered almost as family. When it was originally sent to me for review, I thought it was going to be a more informational type of book that would shed some light onto how to manage dogs when they are difficult. Boy, was I surprised, but not at all disappointed. Set on her Connecticut estate, Ryan's beautifully photographed book provides information about decorating your home with dogs in mind, recipes for your dog, and sleeping arrangements, among other topics of interest to a reader. The devotion upon which Ryan lavishes on her dogs is so apparent (and shared by all her family members) that if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I would hope to be reincarnated as one of her dogs. While not a "how to" type of book, suggestions that have worked in the Ryan household are offered to the reader in a book that would grace the cover of any coffee table.
Another one - actually two - of my favorites have been written by Steve Dale, a fellow ChicagoNow.com blogger. The first, "Good Dog! Practical Answers to Behavior Questions" I read in one straight shot. Not only was it information worthy, but well written and easy to read and understand, a veritable treasure about dogs themselves and their relationship with us. Steve covers topics that typical dog owners struggle with, such as aggression, whether or not to crate your dog, destructive behaviors, and training, among others. You can use his book as either a reference for suggested solutions to specific problems with your dog or simply read it for general information about raising a happy, healthy, confident dog. Steve's 'companion' book to Good Dog! is "Good Cat! Practical Answers to Behavior Questions." It, likewise, delivers an incredible amount of information about living with cats and how to keep them (and you, the owner) stimulated and happy. I must admit that since my days of cat ownership had been over for several years (my last cat died at the age of 19), I was less interested in the content since is was not current for me. That being said, the most compelling takeaway from his book is an explanation of cats simply being cats that are misunderstood by people and cats can end up either ill or returned to shelters for not being what we expected. I only wish that these two books were available in a paperback version or hardcover as well as the Kindle version.
I don't know if readers have ever been to the site, Dogwise.com. This site is fabulous for the dog owner with interests that lean toward behaviors, learning, and communication among dogs and between dogs and humans. Many of their texts have been added to my growing compendium of dog books. One of my favorites, "dog-earred" from many readings, is on sale through November 28th for $6, 54% off the original price and would make a great stocking stuffer. Written by famed Norwegian dog trainer and behaviorist Turid Rugaas, "On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals (2nd Edition) uses both photographs and text to teach the calming signals that dogs use with one another to diffuse stressful situations. These signals are so subtle that they are often unseen by even the most observant of people. I have actually tried some 'dog' calming signals on my excitable Tibetan Terriers, with variable success: My dogs will respond to the 'soft eye,' the 'slow blink' and the yawn and will actually yawn in response to my yawns. For some reason, this communication makes me very excited because I think we're actually 'talking!' But again, I don't know if it's simply me doing my usual anthropomorphizing bit.
Finally, one of my favorite books about life with a dog, "Merle's Door: Lessons from a Free-Thinking Dog" is written by award-winning nature writer, Ted Kerasote. It chronicles his life with Merle, an abandoned puppy found lingering near a campsite in the desert who adopted Ted and lived with him in Wyoming. Eloquently written, yet easy to read, this book combines the best of narrative with the psychology of the human-canine bond with a dog who is not under the dominion of a master but is a partner in life with him.
Happy holiday shopping for you instead of for your canine.