Ever By My Side

 Ever By My Side: A Memoir in Eight Acts Pets by Dr. Nick Trout is much more than a veteranarians account of his daily life.  It is a story of relationships, of hope, and of hurting.  The senior Mr. Trout had Nick pictured in a “James Herriot” type practice, so when Nick decides to go to America and practice, his father is disappointed.  Another disappointment came when Dr. Trout married a woman with cats and they didn’t add any dogs to their family home.  Dr. Trout tells how the pets in his life help him understand, enjoy, and get through hard decisions.  When his daughter became very ill, it took a pet to help him through her illness.  Of course his memoirs include animal antics that are hilarious and heart warming as well as sad.  You’ll enjoy this book if you like animals, but even if you aren’t an animal lover it’s a great story for everyone.

The Dog Who Danced by Susan Wilson

>Justine is a 43 year old mother who drifts from job to job and place to place, estranged from both her father and her teen-aged son. The only constant in her life is her dog Mack, a dog who  Justine has taught to dance. Alice and Ed Parmalee are a couple caught up in grief and unable to accept the death of their daughter several years earlier. Their lives intersect when a trucker driving Justine from Seattle to the east coast to see her dying father, leaves Justine at a rest stop and unknowingly continues with Mack in the truck. When he discovers the dog, he releases it along a busy highway. Mack finds his way to Alice and Ed, while Justine begins a frantic search for her dog. Needing to be at her father’s side, Justine leaves the search for Mack to others. Mack, called Buddy by Alice and Ed, begins to bring them happiness and interest in life and each other again.
Much of the story is told through the eyes of Mack, who describes his perceptions of human behavior and feelings.
The Dog who Danced is a touching story about recovering from loss, building relationships, forgiveness and the loyalty and unconditional love that pets bring to our lives.

Buck

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Buck Brannaman spends his life traveling throughout the U.S. teaching people to communicate with their horses.  A consultant on The Horse Whisperer, Brannaman has a quiet way of calming horses and showing them what is expected of them.  In the inspiring documentary Buck we get to follow his story as he grows from an abused child to a man who’s lessons touch the lives of horses and the people who ride them.

Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extrordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan

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A miniature schnauzer named Atticus M. Finch has climbed all48 of the four-thousand-foot mountains in New Hampshire several times.  Following Atticus most of the way has beenTom Ryan, a middle aged formerly overweight newspaper owner from Newburyport, Massachusetts.
  I was delighted toopen this book after seeing the cute cover of a winsome dog, Atticus, and begin reading a storythat warmed my soul.  Having recentlybeen on a fall foliage tour of New England anddiscovering the White Mountains of New Hampshire I was amazed to also havestayed in the quaint town that adopted Atticus. We stumbled onto it one rainy evening looking for a place to stay.  Our next day’s destination was Boston, but we were too tired to drive thatfar and fight city traffic.  The ClarkCurrier Bed and Breakfast will always be a highlight of our trip, as will Newburyport’s beautifulsea captain’s homes.  Tom shares storiesof the special people of this place but also the low-down nasty politics of asmall town.  He spends his days rubbingshoulders with everyone possible to find gossip for his underground newspaper,the Undertoad.
 When Tom finds alittle puppy to purchase and accompany him on his business excursions, Atticusopens doors all over town.  Who can resista well mannered little dog?  As Tom andAtticus begin spending time in the mountains, first with friends and family andthen more regularly on their own, he begins to find peace and contentmentmissing from his rough upbringing.  Thosewho enjoy the solitude of the outdoors and hiking will appreciate the way Tomwrites of his love for nature.  Those wholove animals will be amazed at the devotion and fortitude of this 20-pound spirited dog. Those who love books will be constantly touched by the lovelyreferences to great writers through quotes and poetry sprinkled throughout thestory.  Following Atticus: Forty-EightHigh Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship is truly abeautiful book you will want to share.

Until Tuesday…by Luis Carlos Montalvan

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A golden retriever stars in this memoir, Until Tuesday. Luis’s memoir is about his experiences as an Iraq veteran who returns to New York recovering from injuries with a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Failing to cope with a “new”world and at the end of his sanity, Luis enlists the help of a service dog to help him re-acclimate. It is a charming story of the bond that grows between Luis and Tuesday. More than that, it is a dramatic look into the mind of a person suffering from PTSD. Montalvan, a former captain in the US Army, is most compelling when he zones in on how he reacts to his world. He is an advocate for service dogs to help the disabled.

Finding Jack by Gareth Crocker

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Fletcher Carson, deeply depressed after losing his family in an accident, volunteers to go to fight in Viet Nam at a time when the war seems to be a lost cause for the US. His unit is close-knit and is sent on dangerous reconnaissance missions, searching tunnels and the jungle for the Viet Cong. During one mission, a badly injured Labrador Retriever crawls out of the jungle. The officer in charge, fearing a trap, orders Fletcher to shoot and kill it but Fletcher defies the order, carrying the dog back to their base for medical treatment. This begins the relationship between the dog they name Jack and Fletcher. With his mastery of commands, Jack appears to be a lost canine unit dog, and after he heals he accompanies the unit on patrol. He locates trip wires and booby traps, saving the lives of the men in the unit and working his way into the hearts of war-weary soldiers. As the war comes to a close, Fletcher is shocked to learn that the Army dogs will be left behind to fend for themselves. Jack has become Fletcher’s reason to live and he defies orders to leave Jack behind, thus beginning their journey to survive together. Finding Jack is a story of friendship, love and hope in the darkest of situations. Author Crocker tells the story of thousands of Army dogs that were left behind in Viet Nam through Jack’s story–dogs who saved thousands of American soldiers lives and were abandoned to survive on their own or were killed. This is a story that will touch your heart–a story of the bonds forged in war between both men and dogs.

The Wild Life of Our Bodies by Rob Dunn

>This fascinating book called The Wild Life of Our Bodies has a very telling subtitle: Predators, Parasites, and Partners that Shape Who We Are Today. Dr. Rob Dunn, a professor in the Department of Biology at North Carolina State University, has written the story of how human evolution was influenced by our interactions with other species. From the smallest intestinal worm to snakes and large predators, Dr. Dunn addresses everything from why humans currently look the way we do to why we have good eyesight to how some modern illnesses are caused by our guts “missing” their old enemies and the body attacking itself in search of something to fight. Not only does Dunn address the interactions that have made us who we are today, he addresses how we can reintroduce old enemies (and helpers) into our lives to improve them and the health problems we have created by banishing nature from our lives.

This book took me quite awhile to read since it was so compelling I wanted to read the stories he used to illustrate his points slowly and carefully. The notes provide a wealth of background papers and books in which to further explore this subject.

Rose in a Storm by Jon Katz

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Jon Katz has written a number of books about dogs which have garnered great reviews. Finally, I have taken the time to read one of them. Rose in a Storm is told from the third person, mainly Rose’s point of view. As we see how she thinks and responds to a major crisis on her farm, a massive snow storm, we fall in love with this faithful dog. The intelligence of the border collie breed is never doubted, and Jon Katz wants us to imagine how this ‘working dog’ perceives and faces such a huge threat to her world. Rose in a Storm is a wonderful story and I look forward to reading Katzs’ other non-fiction animal stories.
Enjoy videos of the Bedlam farm animals on the Jon Katz blog.

A Bloodhound to Die For by Virginia Lanier

>In the beginning, I chose A Bloodhound to Die For by Virginia Lanier because it is about dogs but found many other reasons to read it. The story is fast-paced, starting on Fri. Aug 23rd and stopping on Fri. Sept. 20th with loads of action packed in. Jo Beth trains bloodhounds and uses them for tracking. In these 31 days, Jo Beth struggles with the local sheriff; deals with a crazed jealous gun carrying wife; tracks down an Alzheimer suffering woman twice; meets with a local jailed ever escaping criminal that has the hots for her; is hospitalize when poisoned; deals with the romance in her life; carries on her bloodhound training business; and tracks down the hoodlum that kidnaps her most favorite bloodhound. The characters are fun and interesting and I learned much about the bloodhound. Whew! Now, if you like fast paced light mysteries, take a breath and enjoy reading this book for yourself.

Dogs Don’t Lie by Clea Simon

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In the new pet noir, Dogs Don’t Lie, Pru Marlowe has survived a nervous breakdown caused by her newly-found ability to hear animals’ thoughts. Seeking some peace from the cacophony of animal thoughts in the big city, Pru flees New York, and doesn’t finish her degree as an animal behaviorist. Pru sets up shop as an animal trainer in her small hometown. She is accompanied by Wallis, her cat, who helps Pru understand the animal thoughts she is hearing.

Pru finds her best client, Charles, dead on his living room floor, his throat ripped out and his newly-adopted pit bull, Lily, covered in blood-standing next to him. Spurred on by the desperate cries from Lily, and convinced that Lily is innocent, Pru commits herself to saving Lily and solving the murder. Billed as the beginning of a new Pru Marlowe series, Simon launches a delightful book that will appeal to fans of Shirley Rousseau Murphy and Rita Mae Brown.

Tales of An African Vet by Roy Aronson

>Dr. Aronson is a domestic animal veterinarian treating dogs, cats, hamsters, and monkeys at his practice in Cape Town, South Africa. But because of his expertise he is also called upon to help with wild animals in the bush, in zoos, and on game reserves. Each chapter is a new adventure as Dr. Aronson treats elephants, rhinoceros, cheetah, lions, crocodile, and many other African animals. It is fascinating to go on safari with Dr. Aronson as he endangers himself to treat these wild animals. Tales of an African Vet is entertaining as well as educational. Go on this safari for yourself and you will learn about the life of this veterinarian but even more about the land and animals of South Africa.

Tell Me Where It Hurts

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Nick Trout is a practicing veterinarian surgeon in Boston who actually met the famous Yorkshire country vet and author James Herriot. Some of my favorite books to share out loud with friends and family have been the tales of Dr. Herriott. Pick up a copy of All Creatures Great and Small if you haven’t before or if you are familiar with how funny and poignant his stories were when he wrote them in the 1970′s.
The stories Nick Trout shares in his first book Tell Me Where It Hurts may not be quite as poignant, but they do give us a great picture of the life of a twenty-first century veterinarian. We see what a single day is like in a Boston animal hospital beginning with being rooted out of bed for a 2:00am emergency surgery on a “bloat” by a resident out 0f her league. We follow the decisions that have to be made regarding high tech, expensive procedures that equal comparable human procedures such as joint replacements, chemotherapy and acl repairs (one of the most common problems)
There is much insight and humor in this memoir of a surgeon who has much compassion for the animals so many of us cherish.

Tales of an African Vet by Ron Aronson

>Dr. Aronson is a domestic animal veterinarian treating dogs, cats, hamsters, and monkeys at his practice in Cape Town, South Africa. But because of his expertise he is also called upon to help with wild animals in the bush, in zoos, and on game reserves. Each chapter is a new adventure as Dr. Aronson treats elephants, rhinoceros, cheetah, lions, crocidile, and many other African animals. It is fascinating to go on safari with Dr. Aronson as he endangers himself to treat these wild animals. Tales of an African Vet is entertaining as well as educational. Go on this safari for yourself and you will learn about the life of this veterinarian but even more about the land and animals of South Africa.

Blindsided: Surviving a Grizzly Attack and Still Loving the Great Bear by Jim Cole

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This riveting memoir by Jim Cole relates his amazing survival and recovery from not one but two attacks by grizzly bears. Cole walked away from a lucrative real estate business to follow his passion–studying the great bears. In Blindsided, he relates not only the stories of his attacks but also his fascination with bears, and tells of his miles (thousands!!) hiking and following grizzlies throughout their habitat to observe, photograph and document their behavior. His account of his survival and recovery after his second attack is inspiring, as is his continued love and respect for the animals he studies and to which he has dedicated his life. As he writes “The bottom line is that grizzly bears–and every powerful creature, from the bison to the wolf–should be treated with a mixture of awe, admiration and reverence.” Whether Cole’s actions in his study of the grizzly venture into the foolhardy are unclear, but what is clear is his love for the bear and his commitment to study and learn about their behavior, in the hopes that this intelligent mammal does not vanish from our wilderness.

Oogy by Larry Levin

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Oogy, a severly injured puppy, finds a chance for a new life when Larry Levin and his twin sons, Noah and Dan, take their very ill family pet cat to a local vet. The family did not expect to return with another pet, much less a young puppy who was nearly torn apart by a fighting dog.

But, when Oogy rushed through the doors of the office and into their arms, he claimed them as his family and there was no turning back. Larry focuses on the relationship between himself (a new father at age 45) and his adopted sons, Noah and Dan and of course, Oogy. This story is humanity at its worst and at its best.