Sniffing out some ‘pawsome’ books- The New Indian Express


Express Message Service

BENGALURU: I wasn’t a pet person until I became a pet parent a few months ago. It was a well thought out decision and we were aware of the lifestyle adjustments we would need to make (particularly when travelling) to welcome our new family member. We were looking for a service dog for my special needs son. We finally brought home a four month old English Retriever ‘Coco’ and our lives have never been the same!

When I entered the territory of the dogs, I had many questions. Are dog people more extroverted than introverted? Can dogs speak? Why is it an insult to call a person a “dog” in almost all languages? Why do we say “The world has gone to the dogs”? So I started reading books about dogs. Here are some designed not only for those who love dogs but also for those intending to adopt them.

Classic Dog Stories, edited by Nancy Butler, is a collection of 18 enduring stories from an impressive lineup of authors – from Mark Twain to Rudyard Kipling to Jack London. The Book of Dog, edited by Himali Sodhi, is an updated collection of 45 original pieces by some of India’s leading writers, outstanding new voices and individuals who have dedicated their lives to animal welfare. I loved each essay but my favorite was by Sri Lankan author Ashok Ferry.

Many parents get a dog primarily for their children, and Gene Zion’s Harry the Dirty Dog is without a doubt one of the most popular children’s books. The YouTube video of actress Betty White reading the book has been viewed more than 8 million times! Lessons from Lucy is hilarious – you wouldn’t expect anything less from Dave Barry – but it’s also insightful and touching.

A must-read before becoming a dog parent is Wag: The Science of Making your Dog Happy by dog ​​trainer and social psychologist Zazie Todd, whose dos and don’ts when training a dog I found extremely useful. When it came to science books, I loved Alexandra Horowitz’s Being a Dog: Following the Dog in the World of Smell. Readers will feel freed from human constraints and understood smells like never before; that they were, if only fleetingly, a dog!

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I was immediately intrigued by Speech Pathologist Christina Hunger’s How Stella Learned to Talk. Since we use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) to communicate with our non-verbal son, I was curious to know if the same techniques could be used for dogs. The author shares how she taught her dog to press buttons on a custom soundboard to form sentences up to five words long — the same method she uses to teach children to speak and read. Finally, a lesser-known book, but one of my favorites, is Thurber’s Dogs by James Thurber – a collection of short stories, articles and drawings on the subject.

When it came to fiction, I watched book adaptations instead of reading them. (Though The Friend by Sigrid Nunez is on my to-read list.) The Dogs Purpose, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Marley & Me, and 101 Dalmatians are all wonderful adaptations of best-sellers.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from Coco so far is that dogs overflow with gratitude and never take us for granted. Every time I see her, however brief my absence may have been, she greets me with trembling, boundless joy! It’s a wonder how a relationship between two species, originally based solely on utility, has been transformed into something based on love. And maybe it’s time to reconsider the use of “go to the dogs”!

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