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Pets: Gift books entertain, inform

Pet lovers enjoy reading about their pets, and these choices can make great holiday gifts. While some books are entertaining, others can be very helpful for pet owners.

Here are some of the best:

“Simon’s Cat: Off to the Vet and Other Cat-astrophes” by Simon Tofield (Akashic Books, Brooklyn, NY; 2015, $27.95) – With more than 600 million YouTube views, Simon’s cat is equally as entertaining in print. Guaranteed laugh-out-loud material, Tofield’s secret is successfully relating Simon’s cat to any cat. Simon’s cat is certainly the Snoopy of the cat world. While the name of the book is “Off to the Vet,” many of the cartoon panels are in other settings, but the funniest cartoons of all are getting to the vet clinic, and at the clinic. Well, funny for us, not so much for Simon’s cat.

“Catify to Satisfy” by Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin (Penguin Random House, New York, NY; 2015, $21.95) – The Animal Planet Star (Galaxy) and Benjamin (from use their creative juices to offer up ideas to “cafity” homes. Stuck indoors is a good thing for cats because life is safer than outside. However, many cats live a dull life. Galaxy and Benjamin offer ideas to spice up your home: from home improvement projects to benefit cats, to building out catios (patios for cats), to constructing ways to keep canines out of the litter box, to installing platforms and ledges.

“Reporting for Duty: True Stories of Wounded Veterans and Their Service Dogs” by Tracy Libby (i-5 Press, Irvine, CA; 2015, $29.95) – If you aren’t already angry about the Department of Veterans Affairs suspending its support for pairing service dogs to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, you’ll be infuriated after reading this book. “Reporting for Duty” is beautifully compelling in so many ways. The images clearly illustrate what dogs are doing for America’s veterans of all ages. Lives have been saved. Affording each veteran appropriate respect, Libby does a superb job of telling their stories.

“Heal: The Vital Role of Dogs in the Search for Cancer Cures” by Arlene Weintraub (ECW Press, Toronto, ON; 2015, $16.95) – This is a serious book for the holidays, but it offers an incredibly important report and update on who veterinarians and human medical researchers are working with to find treatments for cancers. “Heal” examines how dogs have been trained to detect various cancers, but now what? How can these talents be practically be utilized? Also, how one cancer drug has come on the market, one version to help dogs (Palladia) and another for people (Sutent). Tragically, while writing this book, the author’s sister died of gastric cancer. This book is science, emotion and love of dogs all mixed together.

“The Dog Behavior Problem Solver” by Teoti Anderson (i-5 Press, Irvine CA; 2015, $19.95) – The first chapter is incredibly important: “What is a behavior problem and what causes it?” It seems obvious, but you can’t identify a problem behavior unless you first understand what normal behavior is. Also, the cause of the problem is so often misunderstood. Most important, is her easy to follow advice on how to solve problems; Anderson relies on positive reinforcement. The book covers 21 “problems,” from aggression to whining.

“All Dogs Go To Kevin: Everything Three Dogs Taught Me (That I Didn’t Learn in Veterinary School)” by Dr. Jessica Vogelsang (Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY; 2015, $26) – Publishers Weekly compared the author’s style to James Herriot’s; high praise indeed. And I can see why. Vogelsang is a wonderfully sweet storyteller. She acknowledges that she’s sometimes better at relating to dogs than people. Much of the book also reads like Vogelsang’s own memoir, and one worth reading.

“A Ruff Road Home: The Court Case Dogs of Chicago” by Susan Russell, photography by Josh Feeney (Safe Humane Publishing, Chicago, IL; 2015, $55) – Based on a principle that a humane community is safer, Safe Humane Chicago is an innovative organization that was founded to make communities safer by reducing violence for children and companion animals. One of their efforts is to find homes for court case dogs. These are dogs doing the time languishing at animal control (for reasons varying from themselves being abused to dogs used in dogfights) but have not committed a crime. Why shouldn’t these dogs (mostly pit bull types, but one cat is included in the book) be adopted if their temperament is suitable. Safe Humane is the only program like this in America. Safe Humane also provides various types of community education. All the proceeds benefit this nonprofit organization. The book is available only at