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|House Training a Buffalo to a Dog Reaching an Autistic Child, A Pack of New Pet Books|
|Written by Steve Dale|
This may be the strangest assortment of pet books, from how to housetrain a dog to daring to think about housetraining a buffalo. Housetraining is only the start for one author, who believes many dogs can be trained to perform amazing tasks. A dog named Henry didn't require training to perform the most amazing task of all: reaching inside the heart and the mind of an autistic child.
"A Buffalo in the House: The Extraordinary Story of Charlie And His Family," by R.D. Rosen (Random House Trade Paperbacks, New York, NY, 2008; $14). After reading this book, a visit from your mother-in-law may not seem so bad. Veryl Goodnight and Roger Brooks adopted Charlie the bison as a baby. The press materials compare this story to "Marley and Me," and certainly the emotional bond between buffalo and man is surprisingly touching, at times astonishing. For example, once Roger returned from a trip and offered Charlie only a cursory 'hello.' The buffalo had a temper tantrum but was soothed only as Roger apologized and gently brushed his buddy! ––"My Dog is a Genius: How to Improve Your Dog's Intelligence," by Dr. David Taylor (Barron's Educational Series, Hauppauge, NY, 2008; $13). This is a fascinating book, beginning with the basics defining intelligence. Did you know the average human brain weighs about 3 pounds? A beagle's brain weighs in at 3 ounces (dogs' brain size varies by breed), a cat's brain averages one ounce; a sperm whale's, 17 pounds; and a parakeet's gray matter a mere 1/400th of an ounce.
The book points out that you can enhance your dog's predisposed genetic smarts with challenges and lifelong lessons. New data demonstrates that we don't really challenge our dogs to be all they can be. The author delves in a controversial area when he surmises that certain breeds are inherently more or less intelligent. For example, among Sporting Breed dogs, he says Golden and Labrador Retrievers are the brightest bulbs, adding that Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers pale by comparison. In the Toy dog group, Papillion's are virtual geniuses (indeed some call them miniature Border Collies, also renowned for their brilliance), while Pekingese are downright dim.
The recipe for improving intelligence varies from group to group - depending on what the dog was bred for, Taylor points out. Hound Dogs have a different recipe for getting smarter than, say, Toy dogs.
“A Friend Like Henry: The Remarkable True Story of an Autistic Boy and the Dog That Would Unlock His World," by Nuala Gardner (Sourcebooks, Inc., Naperville, IL, 2008; $14.99). For a long time, experts have surmised that dogs may be able to reach autistic children. They should read this book. Autism affects nearly one of 94 boys and is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.
This isn't a fanciful novel but a real story. Henry was the best teacher and the best friend Dale ever had. It seems this remarkable dog was able to reach Dale in ways people could not. The dog also managed to calm Dale, previously was prone to temper tantrums. The title really says it all.
"Animal Talk: Interspecies Telepathic Communication," by Penelope Smith (Atria Books, New York, NY, 2008; $14). While I do believe that, as the author says, all life is connected, I'm personally not sure about the telepathic stuff. However, if you believe that we can read animals' minds, Smith is the queen. It wasn't so long ago that Animal Planet featured a pet psychic, and for a while it seemed like a book a week on the topic was being released. When all's said and done, Smith, who helped launch the field decades ago, is still on top of her game with the revised edition of what some call a classic.
If you're just curious and open-minded about the topic, clearly this is the book to read. Demonstrating her prowess for communicating with creatures, Smith uses many real-life examples.
"The Rhino With Glue-On Shoes: and Other Surprising True Stories of Zoo Vets and Their Patients," edited by Dr. Lucy H. Spelman with Dr. Ted Mashima (Delacorte Press Book, New York, NY, 2008; $22). Spelman, former director of the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and now regional director for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in Africa, is widely known in the zoo world.
The book is a collection of unusual and real-life medical dramas involving zoo vets. Not being able to read their patient's minds (unless they read the pet psychic book listed above), it's tough enough for vets to treat dogs and cats, but zoo vets have to deal with it all, from aardvarks to zebras. Accounts include capturing a bison that escaped just outside Paris to dealing with a kangaroo's broken neck. The veterinary solutions are often downright ingenious.
"The Breeder's Guide to Raising Superstar Dogs," by Jerry Hope (Diamond H Publishing, http://www.k9fixer.com/, 2008; $24.95). The title of this terrific book is somewhat deceiving; it's more than a breeder's manual since it offers a recipe for socializing dogs. Socialization is important for all puppies, whether they're from breeders or adopted from shelters.
The author, a well-respected dog trainer and behavior consultant, is self-published, so the book isn't slick. What matters are the words, and these words, if adhered to, would drastically reduce the number of dogs relinquished to shelters.
© 2008 Steve Dale. Tribune Media Services, Inc.