Pet Book Reviews

I’m an avid reader and I know many of you are too. Books are friends, right? On this page I’ll share some of my favourite animal books and pet books.

Faithful Friends: Holocaust Survivors’ Stories of the Pets who Gave Them Comfort, Suffered Alongside Them and Waited for Their Return compiled by Susan Bulanda

Award-winning author and dog trainer Susan Bulanda isn’t Jewish, but the account in The Diary of Anne Frank of a Jewish family in the Second World War risking their lives to bring their pet cat with them as they were forced into hiding from the Nazis set her thinking.

What had happened to the pets of people sent away to concentration camps or exiled because of the Holocaust? As far as she knew no-one had ever investigated this aspect of the atrocity and so she made it her mission to find out.

Through putting ads in Jewish publications, stories began to emerge of brave and faithful dogs and cats who had never been forgotten by their owners, even after more than 60 years. They expressed their thanks to her, grateful that at last they were being allowed to give voice to the stories they had kept to themselves for so long. That they could finally express the love they had for their pets. A love that often kept them going through unimaginable nightmares.

The result is this moving little book which at times brought me to tears. I read it surrounded by my three dogs and as they rested their soft heads on my feet and lap and leaned into my body, I was made even more aware of the incredible bond we humans have with our pets and what terrible anguish the owners and animals must have gone through.

The writers of these stories are from Poland and France, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Holland and Romania. They were children at the time of the Holocaust but the love and bond they had with these very special pets is as fresh and almost palpable in these stories as it was then.

I won’t pretend this book isn’t hard to read. I put off opening it for a few months after it was sent for me to review because I thought it would be too sad. But then today I took a deep breath, took it off the shelf and started to read.

What I found was a series of simply told tales of loyalty that will make you cry but also give you hope.

Because love never dies.

 

Doggerel: The Moving Memoirs of Rescue Dogs and Their Second Lives, in Poetry and Prose  

by Angela Patmore

The first thing to say about Doggerel is that it is being sold in aid of ADCH (the Association of Dogs’ and Cats’ Homes) an umbrella organisation embracing animal charities, shelters and rescue organisations large and small in the UK and Southern Ireland.  The timing of the book is is not coincidental. Angela writes: “During a recession people throw out their dogs like old shoes to save money, so this book has been written to focus people’s minds on this emergency and what it really measns. Waifs and strays that cannot be found room for end up in vans bound for the local vet’s or agency kennels where they have a few days’ grace before being quietly destroyed, never to trouble the animal-loving British public again.’ This underlines the difference between the UK and Italy that is often forgotten in our rush to condemn il bel paese. In the UK healthy dogs are put to sleep.’Last year alone, Battersea put down a third of its intake because there was simply no room for them or becasue they were considered unsuitable for rehoming.’

The format is unusual. First there are poems and photos illustrating the story of fifty strays and their (mainly) happy endings. This is followed by information on where to find your nearest rescue shelter in the UK and then a valuable and immensly practical section on how to care for a rescue dog, Angela’s background and wealth of experience shining through on every page.

The poems are very clever, each written in a style that reflects the personality of the rescue dog. Some will bring you to tears, an effect that the author fully intends, stating: ‘These dogs’ verses were intended to touch your heart. If they succeeded and you are now considering giving an unwanted dog a place in your home, please make sure you have thought it through.’

If you love dogs and particularly rescue dogs then this book thoroughly deserves a place in your collection. It would also make a perfect gift for a dog-loving friend and the fact that the money goes towards helping the UK’s ‘struggling sanctuaries’ is an added bonus.

If you gain nothing else from reading this book, and I assure you, you will gain a lot, it is to think about rescue dogs. Why they are there and if you could take one in. In the words of wonderful, compassionate Angela: “Before you go out and buy a new dog, please come to any of the nation’s ADCH shelters and look at their second-hand rows. Whether or not you meet a friend, it will bring home to you the enormity of the problem throughout the UK and the callousness with which people have shrugged off their responsibilities. You will see faces to amuse you, faces to accuse you and, if you have any feelings at all, faces to break your heart. In the words of Dogs Trust’s famous slogan, A dog is for life not just for Christmas.’

 

Heart to Heart – Pea Horsley

Pea Horsley is an animal communicator. I have interviewed her and have also had a reading from her when my cat Jingles died, so I was delighted to receive a copy of her book. I read it on a trip to the UK but I wouldn’t recommend doing that in public, unless you don’t mind people seeing you with tears rolling down your face!

Pea started off as a sceptic and that immediately caught my attention. She attended a workshop in animal communication thinking that basically it was all cobblers, but to her immense astonishment she found she could actually do it! The book chronicles her growing interest in communicating with animals, the numerous training courses she attends, getting the push to leave her stage management job to do the work full time and there are also many case studies that will leave you reaching for the tissues – unless you have a heart made of a brick.

Pea gets in touch with the consciousness of an animal and sees through its eyes, feels what it feels and understands its likes and dislikes, its past history, its fears and its needs, including the best time for it to leave this life. The animal can also pass on its insights into the owner’s life and issues. Pea works with the animal itself or with a photo showing its eyes and has had remarkable success. She even made the national press when she found a missing dog buried underground. But she can also communicate with pets that have died and as well as offering remarkable evidence that she is indeed in touch with the animal concerned, she can also offer tremendous reassurance to the owner. In my own case, even the act of booking the reading made me feel better and what she told me about the way Jingles died and how he was now helped me a great deal.

The book is touching, warm and totally convincing. Pea is an amazing person and anyone who loves animal should get a copy.

Hands on Healing for Pets – Margrit Coates

Margrit Coates in Britain’s leading healer and a lovely person to boot, as I know from having interviewed her and sent people to her for help.
This book tells the story of how she became a healer and the various animals she has helped in her fascinating and varied career. I like books that tell you how to do things and this book  gives step by step instructions on how to apply healing energy to your own pets and even animals in the wild, using a non invasive and gentle technique.
Many animals can be greatly helped by a healing treatment and anyone can achieve good results, especially owners who have a strong bond with the animal. This is the perfect book to introduce you to the benefits of healing energy and is written in a friendly and down to earth style. Strongly recommended.

One Dog at a Time – Saving the Strays of Helmand by Pen Farthing

I heard about this book and was compelled to buy it. I wasn’t disappointed. It tells the true story of how Pen, a Royal Marine posted to Now Zad in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, befriended the local stray dogs who had been appallingly treated by the locals, who used them for dog fighting. He intervenes and rescues them, creating a makeshift sanctuary in the soldier’s compound. More and more dogs start to make their way to Pen’s improvised dog shelter and he finds himself dividing his time between looking after them, the young soldiers under him and fighting the Taliban.
But once Pen’s tour of duty ends, he is faced with the dilemma of what to do with his beloved dogs. To cut a long and heartwarming story short, he ends up bringing some dogs home with him to the UK and setting up the Nowzad Dogs charity. A remarkable and inspiring story.

Angel Dogs by Allen and Linda Anderson
This collection of true stories will delight dog lovers out there. There are all kinds of stories showing the amazing abilities of man’s best friend, from dog healers to dog heroes. This is the sort of book to give as a gift to a dog lover or to treat yourself to. They say on the cover the book will ‘capture a piece of your heart’ and I have to confess it captured mine completely!


The Animal Healer by Elizabeth Whiter
Elizabeth Whiter discovers her healing ability when her horse Wow is seriously injured during a storm and is discovered to have broken his neck in three places. She is advised to have him put down, but on a memorable and emotional night in his stable she tries healing and is amazed to find it works.
Elizabeth shares her life as a healer with us and her many case studies. What I found fascinating was her description of zoopharmacognosy, which is something I hadn’t heard of before. It is the science of animal self-medication – an animal’s ability to self select the correct healing herbs and oils it needs and it is a fundamental part of Elizabeth’s healing practice. Fascinating stuff!

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