Pampering our pets is a growing priority in America, where owners are spending more time, money and energy to ensure that their furry companions are content. Nothing's too good for our pooches, whether it be doggy day care, gourmet treats or rhinestone-studded collars. If you need expert tips on spoiling your shih-tzu or advice on coddling your cocker spaniel, a pack of animal authorities is ready to dish out the kibbles and bits of pet care. You'll find all the basics of choosing and caring for your pet in two attractive new guides from DK Publishing. Written by veterinarian Bruce Fogle (surely one of the most prolific authors in the burgeoning field of pet publishing), the books feature DK's usual mix of brilliant color photos, detailed illustrations and brief but thorough text. Dog Owner's Manual ($25, 288 pages, ISBN 0789493217) starts out with the fundamentals of "Dog Design," taking readers through a mini-anatomy lesson that might prove helpful during their pet's next trip to the vet. (My finicky Jack Russell terrier might argue, however, with Fogle's claim that dogs "have far fewer taste buds on their tongues than humans, and are willing to consume almost anything that might offer nourishment.") The author provides specifics on several popular dog breeds useful information for selecting just the right pet and goes on to cover training, behavior problems and health concerns.
If you're a cat person, you'll want to sink your teeth into the companion volume, Cat Owner's Manual ($25, 288 pages, ISBN 0789493209). Whether you're just starting out with a new kitty or adapting to life with a regal older cat, Fogle gives sage advice for keeping your cat healthy and happy. Some of the information is inadvertently hilarious, particularly to a dog lover. Take the photos of a cat on leash, for example, or the section titled, "Do Cats Love Us?" No dog owner would ask a question like that.
Another new book targets those who have made the socially responsible choice to acquire their pet from a pound or animal shelter. Adoptable Dog: Teaching Your Adopted Pet to Obey, Trust, and Love You (Norton, $24.95, 288 pages, ISBN 0393050793) by John Ross and Barbara McKinney is billed as the first book geared to the special needs of adopted dogs. The authors don't gloss over the problems these dogs and their owners can face, but they do offer a detailed plan for overcoming obstacles and turning your adopted dog into a beloved family pet. The book covers such issues as bonding, separation anxiety, housebreaking an adult dog and surmounting the scars of prior abuse. This excellent guide offers hope and advice that can help save some of the two million dogs euthanized in U.S. shelters every year.
If you've always wondered what your pet thinks of you, 202 Pets' Peeves (Citadel, $12.95, 215 pages, ISBN 0806524421) might give you the answer. Writer Cal Orey speaks for the cats and dogs of the world, listing 101 human behaviors that drive each species crazy. For cats, the pet peeves include having their tails stepped on, being roused from a nice nap or being asked to do tricks. Dogs, as Orey sees it, are aggravated by humans who won't share their food and owners who bring home feline roommates.
And finally, if you're willing to go to extremes, 97 Ways To Make A Dog Smile lists actions guaranteed to make your dog break into an ear-to-ear grin. Some of the suggestions are simple ("Pet your pup against the grain"), some are funny ("Use a slingshot or a spoon to catapult nuggets of kibble across the yard for your dog to pursue!") and some are downright weird ("Rub the eyebrows gently in small circles, being careful not to poke the dog's eye"). Every tip in this palm-sized book is accompanied by a glossy color photo of an adorable dog guaranteed to melt the heart of any dog lover. Do we have any volunteers for activity number 33 Puppy Pilates?