Labrador Retriever Rescue, Inc.

Howdy, I’m Otis, an LRR alumnus. The other day, I heard my Dad talking to someone in the Rescue about whether I wanted to write reviews for LRR’s Book Club. My Dad was laughing and saying something about my not having the attention span to read a book unless it was wrapped in bacon. Little does he know, I’m quite the bibliophile. If he’d only give me a smoking jacket and slippers, I’d love to curl up with a good book for a few seconds. One just needs the right atmosphere, right? A little bacon doesn’t hurt either. LRR is asked routinely for a list of recommended books on canine behavior, training and obedience, responsible dog ownership, veterinary issues, the Labrador breed, and pet rescue in general. I knew I had found my calling. So, I hacked into my Dad’s computer, and sent an e-mail to the rescue enthusiastically accepting the offer to review some books… from the canine point of view, of course. Sometimes, understanding where we are coming from is half the battle (just ask my Dad!) Gotta run, I see underwear and socks that need to be stolen from the laundry basket!

Second Hand Dog

Title: Second Hand Dog: How to Turn Yours Into a First Rate Pet
Author: Carol Lea Bemjamin
Publisher: Howell Book House; New York, NY; 1988
Price: Paperback, generally under $10
Category: TRAINING
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS (Highest)

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Otis’s Review: I thought I should start my club with this book since LRR and other rescues and shelters often highly recommend it to newly adoptive canine parents. Being only 100 pages (with lots of photos and drawings), it was a quick and easy read. But, I was amazed at the amount of dog behavioral and training information that was packed inside the covers. It was scary how well she knows us canines, and her insight into how we dogs learn and why we adopt certain problem behaviors was uncanny. It is obvious that this woman has studied us well and does a great job of explaining life from our perspective… although I must admit that it was rather disconcerting that she was identifying many of our behavioral secrets and then offering suggestions to you humans like how to be Alpha (top dog). She lays out what we dogs need from our owners in the way of socialization, house manners, diet/health, grooming, obedience training and companionship so that we can thrive. And, while much of this information can be applied to raising dogs in general, she also focuses on the special problems and issues often confronted when taking on a dog of unknown or unfortunate background. She speaks from experience having a number of “second-hand” dogs herself and illustrates much of her advice with real life examples of rescued dogs. A first rate, common sense book for any dog owner, but especially for those adopting from shelters and rescues.

Dog Problems

Title: Dog Problems
Author: Carol Lea Benjamin
Publisher: Howell Book House; New York, NY; 1989
Price: Paperback, generally under $15
Category: TRAINING/BEHAVIOR
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: Sometimes we labs come to the rescue with bad habits or we can develop them as puppies (but we are always cute and adorable). If our humans need help teaching us manners–and are unsure just how to go about it–then this is the book to get. It goes over many of the problems we labbies may have, such as destructiveness, excessive barking, shyness, jumping, tugging and stealing, just to name a few. It is a simple, step-by-step manual on how to help us labbies to be good and well mannered–always using a gentle, loving, positive-reinforcement approach. The author believes in correction and praise as the way to create a well-behaved dog. I must point out that there is one area on which I, Otis, disagree with the author–and that is the use of treats. I LOVE treats, and although the author says not to use treats very often, I recommend that you use treats a lot–are you listening Dad? LRR has found this book very well indexed and compiled when searching for advice on a particular bad habit. And, as with all of her books, the author’s stories and humor make the book very readable.

The Dog Who Loved Too Much

Title: The Dog Who Loved Too Much
Author: Dr. Nicholas Dodman
Publisher:Bantam Books; New York, NY; 1996
Price:Hardbound, generally around $25
Category: BEHAVIOR
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: Veterinarian Dr. Dodman specializes in animal behavior and psychology, and is a professor of behavioral pharmacology at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Behavior Clinic. His book is devoted to helping owners identify, understand, and begin a course of behavior modification, diet change, exercise, and/or medical treatment for the especially tough behavior cases, many of which often cause owners to either give their dogs up or have them euthanized. LRR often gets calls from exasperated owners whose labbies are suddenly displaying strange or bothersome behavior. Unfortunately, many of these owners aren’t looking for counseling or advice, but simply want to abandon their pet. But, for those that do want to work with their dog, this book is often recommended. Each chapter identifies a problem behavior and then details a real life experience from Dr. Dodman’s practice. We learn about Rocky, a dominant Rottweiler; Charlie, a fearful mixed breed biter; Samson and Delilah, a pair of Springer Spaniels who had to learn to accept their owner’s new baby as part of their new pack; Tammy, a Collie who had a fear of Thursdays; Sybil, a German Shepherd terrified of thunder; and Elsa, the Labrador who loved too much. Mixed in are stories of blanket sucking Doxies, rage syndrome in Springers; anxiety in Afghans; and obsessive-compulsive disorders in Goldens and Labs. Following each chapter is a treatment page with recommendations that might include changes in environment, nutrition, training and medical/drug therapies. While having an index would have been better, the chapters are arranged by problem. The many case histories make the reading interesting, and complicated vet terms are at a minimum. I told my Dad this book is especially great for those in rescue, especially us foster homes, where we often see more dramatic problems that need fixing. We labbies want to please you, so I hope if yours is having some trouble, you’ll try this book before you take more drastic measures.

Emergency First Aid For Your Dog

Title: EMERGENCY FIRST AID FOR YOUR DOG
Author: DR. TAMARA S. SHEARER
Publisher:Ohio Distinctive Publishing; Columbus, OH; 1996
Price:Softbound, generally around $25
Category: VETERINARY/FIRST AID
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: There are a number of good veterinary and first aid books available for us dogs, but one of the best features of this book is the way it is arranged. When your canine babies are in distress, you want to be able to find immediate help until you can get them to your regular or emergency vet. This book is laid out by problem/condition. Once you find your dog’s situation, the information is presented in outline format (Symptoms, First Aid Materials, First Aid) with a nice sized type font in problem alphabetical order, making it much easier to read and digest when time is important. Another nice feature is its use of normal home supplies. Don’t have a hot water bottle? A two liter soda bottle full of warm water placed against the chest in between the front and back legs works great. No ice pack? Grab a bag of frozen vegetables instead. Such practical, easy to follow advice is very useful when a potential emergency is in progress. Some of the problems covered include snake bite, hit by car, shock, choking, CPR, frostbite, heat stroke, poisoning (including a long list of poisonous house plants and other poisons), wounds and bleeding, and gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting. The book begins with general information for putting together a home first aid kit, how to approach an emergency, tips on restraint and transportation. A full chapter on first aid techniques includes bleeding control, wound care and wrapping, inducing vomiting, CPR, how to make a dog muzzle and monitoring vital signs. There is also coverage of delivering pups, raising orphan pups, preventive health care, lost pet information, and giving a home physical exam. Being able to assess your dog’s condition accurately is extremely important when communicating the problem to your vet. Reading many of the chapters in advance will help to prepare you should you ever need to respond to a canine emergency. And, believe me, we dogs are depending on you!

Surviving Your Dog’s Adolescence

Title: SURVIVING YOUR DOG’S ADOLESCENCE: A POSITIVE TRAINING PROGRAM
Author: CAROL LEA BENJAMIN
Publisher: Howell Book House; New York, NY; 1993
Price: Hardback, generally around $20
Category: TRAINING/BEHAVIOR
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: Yep, here is another one of my favorite author’s books. In fact, I think it might be my favorite. It gives the same great advice, but it is so funny and down to earth with wonderful pictures and drawings, that I found myself chuckling many times at the antics of my canine brethren and their silly human parents. Of all of her books, this one seems to really nail life from our point of view. She makes sense of some of our seemingly senseless behavior by explaining the situations from our point of view and giving countless case studies from problem to solution. While much of her advice can be employed with dogs of all ages, she focuses on that tough period of canine adolescence–defined as 5 months to 3 years depending on the breed. This is the period where we go from cute fluff balls to independent teenagers, seeking our freedom and identity in ways that cause our human parents much grief. We labs seem to hover in this adolescent stage longer than most, so it is not surprising that rescues, such as LRR, get calls from desperate, frazzled owners wanting to dump us rebellious goof-balls in this age range as soon as possible. It is a phase that we eventually grow out of, but it is also a stage of our lives where we need much direction and guidance. This book provides not only that guidance, but also lots of moral support to help you humans survive this phase! Chapters include discussions of the differences between puppies and adolescent dogs, how to win your dog’s respect and develop an appropriate relationship with him, standard training tools and techniques (with the dog’s breed in mind), dog breed character types, and many case studies of individual problems. You will meet Frisky, the over-exuberant Smooth Fox Terrier; Caspar, the aggressive Speagle (Cocker/Beagle mix); Norman, the seemingly manic/depressive Bernese Mountain Dog; Spirit, the GSD who’s a fussy eater; Fairbanks, the destructive Malamute; Marlon, the Basenji with housebreaking problems; Tofu, the socialized Akita who becomes dog aggressive; Wally, the smart, but stubborn, Airedale; Arnold, the Mastiff who doesn’t know his own strength; Louis, the over-protective Doberman; and of course, Linda, the Labrador with selective deafness. I even saw myself in there as Lucille, the American Staffordshire Terrier who is unreliable off-leash (I wound up with LRR in the first place because I would leave home on my own personal trips!) Undoubtedly, you will find your canine teenager well described in this book! If you are having trying times with your rebellious adolescent pup, then give this book a try. It might be the difference between reigning in and creating a wonderful family member versus dumping the youngster at the nearest shelter.

The Doctor’s Book Of Home Remedies For Dogs And Cats

Title: THE DOCTORS BOOK OF HOME REMEDIES FOR DOGS AND CATS
Author: MATTHEW HOFFMAN, EDITOR/PREVENTION
Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc; Emmaus, PA; 1996
Price: Hardback, generally under $30
Category: VETERINARY/FIRST AID/BEHAVIOR
Otis’s Rating: 4 PAWS

Otis’s Review: It’s nice to find a book that recognizes the need to incorporate advice from both vets and trainers to help solve common pet problems. We pets can be more complex than you might think and often require several approaches, sometimes both medical and behavioral, to first identify the cause of the problem before a permanent solution can be found. For example, if your housebroken pet suddenly begins having accidents in the house, not only should you consider a medical problem, such as a urinary tract infection, but also think hard about any changes to your pet’s routine that would upset him–from something as obvious as a new baby, to something more subtle like you getting home a half hour later after work. This book, compiled by the editors of Prevention Magazine Health Books, takes a common sense approach to a number of very common pet problems, including aggression, arthritis, barking, boredom, car sickness, chewing, constipation, destruction, dung eating, fleas, hot/cold weather concerns, lameness, overweight, poisoning, separation anxiety, sunburn, ticks, vomiting, worms, wounds and much more. Each problem is given a chapter with a number of steps/hints/solutions/tips to solve the problem, modify the behavior, and determine when a vet visit is needed. A good index is also provided. Not only does the book address us canines, but problems particular to my feline friends, such as hairballs and cat flu, are also covered. Given there are so many of us dogs and cats in need of new homes, it would have been nice if the book did not devote a chapter to tips on breeding and mating. Maybe the next edition could include a chapter on adopting us wonderful rescue dogs! Overall, it is a good “owner’s manual” designed to help you humans be caring and smart pet owners. For more information on this book and an opportunity to preview it, visit their web site at www.petremedies.com.

The New Complete Labrador Retriever

Title: THE NEW COMPLETE LABRADOR RETRIEVER
Author: HELEN WARWICK
Publisher: Howell Book House; New York, NY; 1986
Price: Hardback, generally under $30
Category: LABRADOR RETRIEVER BREED INFORMATION
Otis’s Rating: 4 PAWS

Otis’s Review: There are many fine books on my breed, but Ms. Warwick’s comprehensive research and obvious love of the Labrador has produced one of the foremost reference works. Her first edition was written in 1964 and has been updated by two more editions, the latest being this 1986 book. Her first four chapters trace the history and origins of the Labrador from the nineteenth century where my roots seem to spring from the smaller Newfoundland, the St. John’s breed, to our rise in popularity in England where we were officially christened “Labrador”. She draws extensively from numerous older references to sort out our history, relaying a popular story which I would like to think is true that the “first Labrador to reach England swam ashore from vessels which brought cod from Newfoundland.” Ms. Warwick also devotes a chapter each to the development and genetics of yellow and chocolate Labs. A chapter on Labradors in America show we were called English Retrievers in the late 1800’s, not rising in significant numbers until the Roarin’ 20’s (which sounds about right for us outgoing Labbies!) The first official registered AKC Labrador arrived in the US in 1917, and most of our breed first coming to the States were imported by sportsmen in the East. As she does for my English ancestors, Ms. Warwick spends many pages outlining the lineage and pedigree of those first Labs in America, complete with many photos. (From time to time LRR will rescue Labs with pedigrees that include some of the dogs mentioned and photographed here.) Her book goes on to dwell on Labrador breeding standards, Labrador breed shows, and how to choose a Lab puppy (as either show dog, companion or gun dog). It is understandable that a book dedicated to the history and preservation of the breed would address these issues, but being a rescue dog myself, I can tell you that many of us without papers make the best companions ever (just ask my Dad!), as well as excellent working and service dogs. Ms. Warwick does write a chapter on Labradors in Service which presents these abilities. Overall, she writes a well documented and illustrated book on us Labbies–now I think I’ll hold my head up and take a strut lap!

Stolen For Profit

Title: STOLEN FOR PROFIT
Author: JUDITH REITMAN
Publisher: Kensington Books; New York, NY; 1992
Price: Softbound, generally around $15
Category: GENERAL DOG INFORMATION
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: This book should be required reading for all dog owners. Everyday, dogs disappear from their unattended backyards, and owners don’t realize the reason could be more alarming than the dog simply “running away.” In fact, as many as 2 million family pets are stolen each year and sold into trades that include puppy mills, pet stores, dog fighting rings, and satanic cults. But the biggest purchaser of family pets remains the medical research industry. Our companion animals will be burned, shot at close range, addicted to drugs and nicotine, and force fed toxic household products, and when dead, dissected in classroom teaching exercises. LRR has learned that such institutions in our area prefer deep chested Labrador Retrievers for organ research. Sadly, I had the experience of being stolen from my owners backyard in the 5 minutes that Dad went upstairs to change clothes. Fortunately, I am good at escaping, and after a nightmare 24 hours, I was found, but LRR had learned that an area research facility had just put out an order for large Labs for the purpose of studying repeated heart attacks! Ms. Reitman documents many other similar occurrences throughout the US. The purpose of her book is not to debate the use of animals in medical research or animal rights, but to make dog owners aware that their pets do have a better than average chance of being stolen and to provide them with details of how these pet theft rings operate. You will learn how bunchers (the actual thieves) select their target areas (often near easy access roads); how bunchers and dealers get many of their animals through answering “Free to Good Home ads”; how the dogs get from the bunchers to the actual dealers; how dog auctions work (where the animals are bought and sold); how the high demand for research animals drives the market for stolen pets; and how the government facilitates this stolen dog trade (mainly through the issuing of USDA’s Dealers’ licenses). This is not an easy book to read and will definitely turn your stomach, but it is vital that pet owners know that their pets could easily become targets of this criminal activity. Ms. Reitman does provide a chapter on what you can do to stop pet thefts, including never leaving your pet unattended in your backyard, in an outdoor kennel, and in your car; never use “Free to Good Home Ads” to give your pet away unless you are willing to do very thorough screening and follow-up; encourage your local newspapers to preface such ads with a warning of the risks; tattoo or microchip your pet (but realize this is no guarantee of safety since tattoos are often “removed” and scanners rarely used by the research facilities); talk to your neighbors and make them aware of such predators; get involved on a community basis such as finding out if the community is tracking lost pets or which local animal agencies are aware of and combating this problem; find out if there are USDA licensed dealers and institutions in your area by calling your regional USDA office–also ask for their List of Animal Welfare Licensed Dealers and List of Animal Welfare Licensed Research Institutions; and if stymied by the USDA, call your local US Congressperson; and by all means, spay and neuter your pets. She also introduces the Pet Theft Citizens Network (1-800-STOLEN-PETS) who track dealer activity and can provide more information on this growing epidemic. As long as there continues to be a lucrative market for stolen pets (with many going for hundreds of dollars each); the USDA continues to provide Class B (random source animals) Dealer licenses; our government and medical establishment look the other way or deny the problem; and the public remains unconcerned, your dog (and cat) will continue to be prime targets for this illegal trade. Much better to experiment on a nice pet that trusts humans, than those biters and “wild” strays on the street. For those of you in the DC metro area, if you find your pet missing from your yard with his/her collar taken off and left behind and neighbors have seen a green Toyota truck with a camper shell in the area, call your local animal welfare agencies immediately! Whether you are pro or con on the use of animals in medical research, we should all agree that it shouldn’t be our beloved pets that are stolen for this purpose. You should also be aware that we Labs are often prime targets by dog fighters (especially those using pit bulls) for being “bait”; that is, us happy-go-lucky Labbies who often don’t know how to fight back are stolen by dog fighters and used to get the fighting dogs whipped into a frenzy. Once they’ve ripped the bait dog to shreds, they are ready to fight each other. We Labbies are depending on our owners to protect us from these horrible possibilities. The first step is for you to become educated on these issues, and for that, this book is highly recommended.

Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook

Title: DOG OWNER’S HOME VETERINARY HANDBOOK
Author: DELBERT G. CARLSON, DVM & JAMES M. GIFFIN, MD
Publisher: Howell Book House; New York, NY; 1992
Price: Hardbound, generally around $25
Category: VETERINARY/FIRST AID
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: When LRR adopts out us labbies, they include a sheet of suggested reference materials. This book tops their home veterinary recommendations and is widely consulted by LRR volunteers when their fosters come down with common canine maladies like diarrhea and vomiting, bee stings, scrapes, and the occasional puncture wound from an overly spirited play session, among other things. It is considered to be one of the most comprehensive dog care guides written for the dog owner. The book is arranged with a symptoms index (such as drooling, swollen joints, squinting, etc.) on the inside cover for quickly finding the likely problem. Similarly, the book has a detailed general index to make finding topics easier. Nearly 200 “how to” illustrations, charts, tables and photos are included to help with better identification of some illnesses, as well as show step by step how to administer CPR; apply bandages; make a muzzle; and lists plants poisonous to dogs, among other useful tips. Emergency and routine care information is provided from pediatrics to geriatrics. The book is generally arranged by body part: skin, eyes, ears, nose,digestive system, etc. and revised on occasion. While no book substitutes for a visit to your vet, this Handbook will assist you in correctly preparing your dog (and yourself) for a regular or emergency vet visit. Knowing how to save your dog’s life if not near an animal hospital or if time is a critical factor is vital to your dog’s well being, as well as learning symptoms of problems along with what constitutes a healthy dog. LRR highly recommends dog owners read this book in advance of any problems so you will be better able to recognize potential problems early and assist us dogs when we need it.

Labrador Tales

Title: LABRADOR TALES: A CELEBRATION OF AMERICA’S FAVORITE DOG
Author: JOHN ARRINGTON & WALT ZIENTEK (AS A PROJECT OF LABMED)
Publisher: Azul Editions; Falls Church, VA; 1998
Price: Softbound, generally around $15
Category: LABRADOR BREED
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: Finally, a wonderful book of stories, poems and essays written about us Labbies. It is obvious from the various tales that these two authors have had their share of being owned by Labs. Samples of chapters include: “Chamois: My New Best Buddy”; “Avoiding the Wet Spot”; “Black Labs Vs. Yellow Labs”; “The Haunted Bowl”; “The World Champion Stink Dog”; “The Perfect Retrieve”; and “Swamp Gas” to name but a few. Each chapter runs a few pages, but captures well the Lab and his antics. I guess we Labbies can generate lots of storytelling! The book is also illustrated by award-winning writer and artist, Terry Albert, whose many Labby drawings punctuate the stories so realistically–most likely because she, too, has been owned by Labbies! In fact, we understand that the chocolate Labby that graces the cover (along with a yellow and black Lab), is our own LRR Alum, Hershey. The good thing about owning this book is that the proceeds help to benefit LABMED, an Internet-based, nonprofit organization formed in 1996 to provide emergency medical assistance for abandoned, ill or injured Labs.

The Merck Veterinary Manual

Title: THE MERCK VETERINARY MANUAL
Author: SUSAN AIELLO, EDITOR
Publisher: Merck & Co., Inc.; Whitehouse Station, NJ; 1998 (8th ed.)
Price: Hardbound, generally around $30
Category: VETERINARY MEDICINE
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: One thing the LRR humans have learned over the years in doing rescue is that they are bound to see a variety of medical and health problems in the labbies they take in. Some conditions are not well covered or defined in veterinary books for the lay person. In searching for a more comprehensive veterinary manual, veterinarians most often referred them to Merck as the reference they use. Several years ago, LRR took in a nice yellow lab male who seemed to start having seizures at his foster home. Had the director not referred to Merck for other possibilities, this dog, who was suffering from a terminal case of exertional myopathy (later confirmed by a veterinary neurologist), might have been diagnosed with routine epilepsy and LRR might have placed him only to have his new home have to part with him in 6-12 months. Merck not only covered this illness, but also gave the director symptoms (like being unusually well muscled when he had lived his 2 years in a cramped pen) to help in her discussions with the LRR vet. While the target audience is veterinarians, this manual can still be helpful to those animal welfare agencies and people who deal with animals daily, especially those animals who often come from abusive or negligent environments where medical care was virtually non-existent. This manual covers not only dogs and cats and other small animals and pets, but also large animals (such as horses and cows) and even exotics (ostriches, llamas, etc.) Each edition (produced approximately every 6-7 years) completely reviews all information and updates and revises as needed, adding new species, worldwide diseases, treatments. Chapters are arranged by system: circulatory, digestive, endocrine, neurological, etc. with an introduction to that system’s normal function, the mechanisms of disease found there, and then detail on the special body parts and their function and dysfunction. An extensive reference guide and index are included. Chapters on nutrition, pharmacology and toxicology are presented as well. While this book is more than the average pet owner needs to manage his pet’s medical/health care, it can be a vital reference to those animal care providers who need more information on an animal health care issue.

101 Questions Your Dog Would Ask Its Vet

Title: 101 QUESTIONS YOUR DOG WOULD ASK ITS VET
Author: BRUCE FOGLE
Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers; New York, NY; 1993
Price: Softbound, generally around $10
Category: BEHAVIOR/VETERINARY
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: Yep, I checked and all the questions I would ask my vet are covered in his easy to read book. Both educational and entertaining, Dr. Bruce Fogle, a veterinarian and animal behaviorist, has arranged this book into chapters covering: Instincts and Communication; Emotions and Behavior; Training; Sex; Diet; Travel; Illness and Disease; and Grooming and Preventive Care. Each chapter is formatted with questions and answers, and a fairly detailed index is provided. Questions include: Will neutering make me fat and boring? Why do I howl when I hear Beethoven? Why do I have this compulsion to bury bones? How can I overcome my fear of people? Sometimes my nose is wet; other times it’s dry–does it matter? And, a whole host of other questions–some of which have been stumping you humans! And, yes, there are 101 of them! Chances are a question or two you’ve always had about us canines can be found and answered here.

Dogs For Dummies

Title: DOGS FOR DUMMIES
Author: GINA SPADAFORI
Publisher: IDG Books Worldwide; Foster City, CA; 1996
Price: Softbound, generally around $20
Category: GENERAL DOG INFORMATION
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: Just like those other “Dummy Press” books about other topics, this one, at over 350 pages is quite a thorough reference on all things canine. There are 22 chapters that supplement five main parts: Starting to Think Dog; Bringing a Puppy or an Adult Dog into Your Life; Living with Your Dog; Finding Cool Things to Do with Your Dog; and Several Top 10 Lists. The book also includes a quick reference card on dog care, a number of hilarious canine cartoons and helpful illustrations; practical checklists and tips throughout each chapter; and a very comprehensive general index. If you are thinking about getting a dog, this is a great place to start. Not only are there chapters on whether a dog is right for your lifestyle and if so, what breed of dog best fits, but I am very happy to see that shelters, rescues and adopting adult dogs are discussed. (I think we adult rescue dogs are the perfect pet!) The book presents realistic information to help with these decisions. Once you have a dog, there are chapters on dog health, dog training, and problem solving. I really liked the Part on Cool Things to Do with Your Dog which had chapters on traveling with your dog and canine competitions. Top 10 list topics include silly tricks, questions to ask when buying a purebred puppy; must see dog sites on the www, among others. Even packed with so much information, the chapters are formatted with icons to direct you to tips; just for fun; info-sniff; caution; remember; and technical stuff. There is also a great Appendix of additional resources. While the book is very educational and practical, it is also just fun to read. Whether you are a doggy newbie or old-timer, this book is a great reference and highly recommended. Now, if I could just get Dad to read it……!

The Whole Dog Journal

Title: THE WHOLE DOG JOURNAL
Author: NANCY KERNS, EDITOR
Publisher: Belvoir Publications, Inc.; Greenwich, CT; Began in 1998; Monthly
Subscription Price: $39/annually (12 issues); $7/issue
Subscription Info: 800/829-9165; customer_service@belvoir.com; WholeDogJ@aol.com (editor)
Category: NATURAL DOG HEALTH/BEHAVIOR/TRAINING
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: For those of you interested in alternative veterinary health, you will find WDJ fills the natural dog care and training niche very well. Holistic and homeopathic therapies are often the focus of articles dealing with topics such as separation anxiety, travelling, aggressive behavior, and arthritis, to name but a few. But, you will also find very good evaluations of such things as dog food, collars and leashes, toys, training tools, carpet stain products, nail clippers and even organic lawn care. While these product reviews do test the products for their use, WDJ also looks for things like toxic reactions, cancer causing preservatives/chemicals and other safety issues. No commercial advertising is accepted. Articles are very comprehensive and include photo illustrations and resource information. Questions from readers are also fielded by experts. Even if you are not a strong believer in alternative dog care, such as use of flower essences and acupuncture, the commonsense and positive training and behavior topics, along with the product reviews, are worth the subscription price alone. Lots of helpful information each month on a wide range of dog related topics.

Your Dog

Title: YOUR DOG
Author: TUFTS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
Publisher: Belvoir Publications, Inc; Greenwich, CT; Monthly
Subscription Price: $39/annually (12 issues); $6/issue
Subscription Info: 800/829-5116; YDmail@aol.com (editor)
Category: VETERINARY/TRAINING/BEHAVIOR
Otis’s Rating: 5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: Here is another very useful and informative monthly newsletter dedicated to us dogs. Articles on all aspects of dog health/care/nutrition/behavior/training are presented. YD also has begun to evaluate dog products such as car restraints and dog health insurance plans. YD does not accept commercial advertising. Readers’ specific dog related questions are also printed and answered. YD also looks frequently at the impact of dogs on society with articles on dog law; taking your dog to work; animal abuse and welfare; to name a few. Information is targeted to the individual dog owner who wants to get knowledgeable about all aspects of their dogs’ lives, but this newsletter is also very useful to those working in animal welfare. Very comprehensive coverage of all things canine accompanied with practical advice and good product comparisons.

Labrador Retrievers Today

Title: LABRADOR RETRIEVERS TODAY
Author: CAROLE COODE
Publisher: Howell Book House; New York, NY; 1993
Price: Hardbound, generally around $25
Category: LABRADOR RETRIEVER BREED INFORMATION
Otis’s Rating: 3.5 PAWS

Otis’s Review: With the author an internationally recognized breeder of Labrador Retrievers, it is not surprising that this book is directed more toward breeding, whelping, rearing, and starting a kennel. Not something rescues especially promote, given the overpopulation of our breed and the proliferation of Labrador Retriever backyard breeders and puppy mills who will not take back their pups, leaving rescues, shelters and other animal welfare organizations to save those of us who were sold to unrealistic or uncaring owners who soon dump us. So, while many of the chapters of this book may not be relevant to rescues and Labs in need of rehoming, the book does do a good job of defining the breed standard and profile of well bred Labs. There are also good chapters on health care, especially as it pertains to common conditions found in Labs; and training, including introductions to obedience, field trials, gundog work, and working tests. You might also find the chapters on individual show kennels in Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Sweden and the USA interesting to compare in history, registrations, practice and in pictures of their top Labs. While I would hope you would consider adopting a fine specimen of a Lab (like me!) from a rescue, if you feel you must purchase a puppy, this book will help you choose a quality breeder and puppy rather than patronizing pet stores, puppy mills, and backyard breeders whose Labs are often overbred; with genetic problems (such as hip dysplasia or PRA); other health or lack of vaccination related illnesses; and shy/fearful, nervous or aggressive temperaments. Purchasing your Lab puppy from these places only serves to hurt my breed by promoting and rewarding volume, bad and irresponsible breeding.