Friday, June 10, 2011

Canine Connections

I am a cat person. I choose to live with cats because they are relatively low maintenance. Put out the food, scoop out the litter pan, provide a cozy place to sleep, some sunshine and the company of at least one other cat and they are happy. They prefer, in fact, that any further human interference be kept to a minimum. I also like cats because they often can be found in libraries, for example Dewey: the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron.  (Or our own lovable library cat, Ernie, who resides at the Bealeton Library)

Dogs, on the other hand, are seldom found in libraries (except for our Paws to Read buddies). Furthermore, they require much more attention from their human companions as Caroline Knapp discusses in Pack of Two: the Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs. Another recent book that discusses the ancient and complicated relationships between humans and other animals, including dogs, is Wayne Pacelle’s The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them.

Because I am not a dog person I’m always surprised when I find books with dogs in them that I really like (in some cases, really love!). One of these is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I’ve been told that another good read for dog people is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.

There are many mysteries that will also appeal to dog people. Spencer Quinn writes the Chet and Bernie series, Chet being a great dog and Bernie being his human companion and the owner of the Little Detective Agency. Dog On It, Thereby Hangs a Tail and To Fetch a Thief are also available on CD, and have an excellent narrator.

Other dog people who write mysteries are Donna Ball (Raine Stockton dog mystery series), Susan Conant (Dog Lovers Mystery series) and David Rosenfelt (Andy Carpenter legal mystery series). Martha Grimes often has animals appear in her Richard Jury series. In one of my favorites, The Old Wine Shades, the reader knows that the dog knows who did it; the dog just can’t understand why the humans are so slow to figure it out.

The library has a wealth of material about dogs, everything from how to train your new puppy to dogs in art. Check out an issue of Dog Fancy magazine for good articles and lots of pictures. There are even DVDs like Dogs Decoded and Dogs That Changed the World.

I speak from personal experience when I say that even a cat person, with the help of a good book, can learn to appreciate the charms of our canine companions.

Maryellen @ Warrenton

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