Mini-re­views of books that salute pets

Orlando Sentinel - - FAMILY LIFE - By Wil­liam Hage­man Tri­bune News­pa­pers

If you read “My Old Dog: Res­cued Pets With Re­mark­able Sec­ond Acts” (New World Li­brary) and don’t want to run out to a shel­ter and res­cue a se­nior pet, you have a heart of flint.

The book, writ­ten by Laura T. Cof­fey and pho­tographed by Lori Fusaro, cham­pi­ons a some­times-for­got­ten seg­ment of the an­i­mal shel­ter pop­u­la­tion.

The sad fact is, a lot of shel­ters con­sider dogs over age 3 dif­fi­cult to place, so they don’t make a great ef­fort to find them homes. By the time they’re 7, they’ve been writ­ten off and of­ten meet an early demise. “My Old Dog” goes a long way to­ward de­bunk­ing the idea that se­nior shel­ter dogs don’t have much to of­fer.

The book started as a photo project by Fusaro. Cof­fey wrote about it for the “To­day” show web­site, and it gen­er­ated so much in­ter­est they de­cided to do the book.

It fea­tures 19 dogs, ages 7 to 18. There’s Remy, a 9-year-old pit bull adopted by three nuns who walked into a shel­ter and an­nounced they were af­ter a dog that no one else wanted; there’s Akita, a fierce-look­ing 15-year-old who came to her new home not al­low­ing any­one to touch her but who now is fam­ily; and Rocky, a 15-year-old golden re­triever who lives in a nurs­ing home and com­forts women with de­men­tia.

“My Old Dog” will make read­ers re­think their at­ti­tudes to­ward se­nior shel­ter dogs. And who knows, maybe even adopt one.

And a friendly tip: Novem­ber is Adopt a Se­nior Pet Month. Beat the crowds and get yours now.

Some other books worth a nuz­zle: “Elle & Coach: Di­a­betes, the Fight for My Daugh­ter’s Life, and the Dog Who Changed Every­thing” by Ste­fany Sha­heen with Mark Dagostino (Ha­chette Books): Af­ter her 8-year-old daugh­ter, Elle, was di­ag­nosed with Type 1 di­a­betes, Sha­heen learned and did as much as she could to com­bat Elle’s con­di­tion. It wasn’t un­til the fam­ily adopted a life­sav­ing medic-alert dog named Coach that things changed for the bet­ter. “Cats Galore: A Com­pen­dium of Cul­tured Cats” by Su­san Her­bert (Thames & Hud­son): Artist Her­bert has been re-imag­in­ing fa­mous events with cats for a while now. In the de­light­ful “Cul­tured Cats,” she re­pro­duces some of her more pop­u­lar works and adds a bun­dle of new ones. Cat lovers will find much to like, but even a non­cat per­son will be amused by her ren­der­ings. (The re-cre­ation of the char­iot race from the 1959 ver­sion of “Ben Hur” is es­pe­cially fun.) “Res­cue Road: One Man, Thirty Thou­sand Dogs, and a Mil­lion Miles on the Last Hope High­way” by Pe­ter Zheut­lin (Source­books): Over the last 18 years, Greg Mahle has res­cued more than 30,000 dogs, load­ing up his truck with as many as 90 dogs and bring­ing them from Gulf Coast shel­ters to new homes in the North­east. Zheut­lin tells the story of this dog sav­ior and the oth­ers who help him, and in the process, ed­u­cates read­ers about is­sues such as kill shel­ters and pet over­pop­u­la­tion. “Shake Cats” by Carli David­son (Harper De­sign): Fol­low­ing in the paw prints of “Shake Dogs” and “Shake Pup­pies,” “Shake Cats” fea­tures more than 60 cats of all ages, al­most all res­cues, shak­ing — and gen­er­ally not look­ing too pleased. Cat lovers will shake with ex­cite­ment at this fe­line fol­low-up. “Cats on the Job: 50 Fab­u­lous Fe­lines Who Purr, Mouse, & Even Sing for Their Sup­per” by Lisa Ro­gak (St. Martin’s Press): Let Fido and Rover work se­cu­rity and sniff out crim­i­nals. Cats such as Ickle and Heisen­berg have other meth­ods of con­tribut­ing to so­ci­ety — they’re fur­ni­ture testers at a cat-fur­ni­ture fac­tory in Michi­gan. Ro­gak in­tro­duces read­ers to cats that are mousers, cir­cus per­form­ers and fos­ter moms (for a lit­ter of pup­pies, no less). Mostly, the fea­tured crea­tures are warm com­pan­ions to hu­mans, not a bad lot in life.

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