Thursday, February 01, 2007

Book Review

Oh, today was a long day. I just got back from pilates class and my leg muscles are still twitching. It's a funny feeling. Bailey has deserted me (and the freezing house) in favor of patrolling the fence in search of opossums. I just heard a mad dash outside so I'm assuming he discovered one. I never thought I'd see the day when our lazy dog could clear a 5 foot fence but he'll come pretty close if there is something of interest at the top. Personally, and this sounds horrible, I wish that he'd chase the cats instead of the opossums. Our neighbors are bad pet owners and they allow their cats to be outside (permanently). Not only did the cats start chasing the birds at our feeder but the fish in our pond have started to mysteriously disappear. So, from my way of looking at it, if they are going to allow their cats to eat my birds and my fish, why can't I allow my dog to eat their cat?? It sounds fair to me. You know, a dog eat uh, cat world. :) Actually, Bailey doesn't have a chance in hell of ever catching a cat so I guess it's just wishful thinking on my part.

(ok, so it probably wouldn't be so good for neighborly relations if Bailey maimed their cats. But I don't think it would be unfair if he could give the cats a good scare; maybe they'd permanently quit our yard. I wonder if you could teach a cat to only eat mice, rats, and starlings. Wouldn't that be delightful? Then they'd stay away from my lovely phoebes, song birds, and parrots.)

But I digress. Bailey is outside chasing opossums and Chris is still at work so I have the house to myself. And I'm feeling rather bored which is an unusual feeling for me. Maybe it's the only child thing: when I was little there wasn't anybody else to play with so I got really creative at keeping myself occupied. That's not to say that my parents abandoned me in a corner or anything; I just became really good at inventing ways to stay busy. I received some wonderful books for Christmas; unfortunately I've read them all already and I'm famished for some good reading material. Here are a couple ones that I've recently read:

Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder. This book is actually required reading for University of Washington students. I highly recommend it. It's the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a harvard doctor who single-handedly decided to cure the world of poverty and disease. He started out in Haiti but his organization has grown to include programs in Peru, Russia and elsewhere. Unlike many organizations, Dr. Farmer concluded that it wasn't enough to simply treat the disease, he needed to work on curing the root cause, even if the root cause was extreme poverty. In addition to say, TB drugs, he provided medical checkups (house visits), money for education, new homes and programs for women. It's a wonderful, if sobering story. His organizations, Partners in Health, has a website that can be found here. And if you're looking for a worthy organization desperately in need of some moolah, my parents are really fond of this one. Marley and Me, by John Grogan, is a fun, light read that is best read by dog-lovers. It's the story of Mr. Grogan's yellow lab Marley who playfully destroys drywall, eats gold jewelry, and causes general mayhem. Marley is the kind of dog that makes any dog owner feel instantly better about their own mischievous pooch. Bailey looks like an angel in comparison. Mr. Grogan's writing is moderately talented but not exceptionally graceful. My biggest beef with Mr. Grogan was that he purchased his dog from a backyard breeder and he did very little research prior to buying his dog. Having previously worked at an animal shelter and seen so many abused and neglected animals, I am a firm believer that you can find a lovely dog at the pound or through a rescue organization (unless you're looking for a specialty dog, such as for hunting purposes). Honestly, shame on those that still buy dogs from pet stores. That issue aside, it's a fun read. You'll probably cry a bit at the end if you've ever lost a pet, particularly a dog.

Of course, by far my most favorite dog book is The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, by Farley Mowat.
Right, so those are some of my most favorite books for now. Does anyone have any recommendations? I'm open to just about anything at this point...


  1. Anonymous6:42 AM

    Have you read anything by Zadie Smith? I enjoyed White Teeth and am about to start in on On Beauty. They're both fiction. Aside from that, I'll have to dig through my list of books to read. Let me know if you're more interested in fiction or non-fiction. :)

    I actually agree that Bailey should be able to give those cats a serious scare. Inasmuch as buying a dog is an irresponsible decision, I consider letting cats run free outside to be irresponsible. Not only do the cats kill things, but they are also exposed to a whole host of diseases. And both feral cats and feral dogs (dingos) have done pretty terrible things in Australia and on other islands.


  2. If you're into dog books try "Amazing Gracie." Buy it from the Three Dog Bakery website and all of the proceeds go to their foundation which helps abused and neglected animals like my Grace was. Also, "The Thirteenth Tale" is good if you like "Jane Eyre."

    On a side note...having worked at a pet store, those dogs are very sweet as well and equally deserving of a home. Of course we rescued Grace, but I think people need to get their dog from their comfort level. A lot of people want to know the background of their dog which I think it a great thing to know...especially for medical history purposes. Just something to think about.

    Hope Bailey scares some cats for you! :)

  3. Oh, I did enjoy White Teeth. Would you let me know how you like On Beauty? I'm on a bit of a fiction kick right now, any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

    I heard that Sydney has a huge feral cat problem and that it has had a serious impact on their native songbird populations. Cats are delightful creatures and make wonderful pets, as long as they stay inside. As for buying a dog at a pet store, Amanda, you bring up a very good point that the dogs are equally deserving of a home. However, many (but not all) dogs from pet stores tend to come from puppy mills. Wasn't Grace used solely for breeding purposes for many years? Puppies from dog mills usually aren't given the same amount of attention and love because their sole purpose is financial. Additionally, if a puppy can't be sold and out grows its cute "puppyness", it's often euthanized. That is not an ideal situation. Perhaps you had a different experience at your pet store? Did you ever see the facilities from where the dogs came from? What happened when a dog couldn't be sold? Thank you so much for bringing up these good points! I tend to get a little bit close-minded when it comes to animal welfare and I appreciate your thoughtful comments!
    Have a great weekend,

  4. oh! I keep forgetting to add here that I'm being rather hypocritical, despite my proclamations about adopting dogs from shelters. My most beloved childhood dog was one that we acquired from a woman whose newfoundland had a tryst with a roving neighborhood mutt. We picked out our puppy in much the same way that Mr. Grogan found his: nobody can turn away from a roomful of adorable little furballs. That was also before I worked at an animal shelter and saw how many lovely dogs had to be euthanized, even puppies."Pound dogs" are not for everyone. But if you are looking for a specific type of dog, a lab for example, and you're not picky about lineage or AKC papers, then I think a rescue group is a very viable option for many people, even if you're looking for a puppy. We decided not to get a puppy from our rescue group because we work full time and most puppies require constant attention and supervision. Anyway, that was a long paragraph in which I was really trying to agree with Amanda that pound dogs or rescue dogs aren't for everyone but I hope that people would consider them before purchasing a pooch elsewhere! :) I never claimed to be a graceful or concise writer!!!