Luis Montalván and Tuesday – Finding a Home After War

Around Memorial Day, I wrote an article about Staff Sergeant Reckless, a horse who served our nation as a Marine in the Korean War. I had next expected that I would write about another animal that had served. There are certainly a plethora of “soldier animal” stories in print these days, and I had a few in mind, but wasn’t really sure how to pick between them. My mind was completely changed when I went to the library and searched with the keywords “soldier” and “dog.” At the top of the choices available was a children’s picture book, which came as a total surprise to me, since it is often hard to find a book for young readers that deals honestly and specifically with Veterans’ issues. I was instantly curious and scrolled down to see more. Listed with the children’s book was a book by the same author, with the same dog on the cover.

A story that both adults AND children could read? As I am a preschool teacher and an avid reader, this was not an opportunity that I was going to pass up. Once I had both in my hands, I devoured them. In fact, I finished the children’s book instantly and found it so perfect that I immediately incorporated it into the day’s lesson plan.

The two books, Tuesday Tucks Me In and Until Tuesday, are both about Luis Carlos Montalván, who has written the story of his life before and after being partnered with a service dog named Tuesday. Montalván was a Captain in the U.S. Army and served two tours in the Iraq War, where he was attacked. He now lives with the pain and disability of both a traumatic brain injury and the damage to his spine that resulted from the incident. He also lives with something that we are hearing more about in these times of modern warfare; post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Tuesday helps Luis

Tuesday helps Luis on a crowded subway. Image by Don Dion, from the book Tuesday Tucks Me In

As someone with both family members and family friends who have served in different divisions of the U.S. Armed Forces during various conflicts in history, I am always proud to share the story of a soldier who has served our country. Anyone who is brave enough to put on a uniform and risk life and limb so that their fellow countrymen can stay at home and dither about what to watch on Netflix deserves more respect than I feel I can ever give. There is more bravery in that sacrifice than I could ever hope to have. When most people hear that I teach preschool, they usually say, “I don’t know how you do it.” Well soldiers, that is nothing compared to what you have given us and I couldn’t ever imagine being in your shoes. I honestly do not know how YOU do it, especially after having such a clear picture painted to me of the post war struggles that you face.

I have always known that life in the military is not as glorious as people believe, but reading Montalván’s story in his own words was somehow eye opening, even when I knew the system was letting our soldiers down and that civilians had little understanding of the types of mental and physical wounds of which our wounded warriors suffer.. There is a natural way in which he writes that warms and welcomes you. It is so natural that I almost wrote, “HEARING Montalván’s story,” in the line above. Sitting here, writing up my thoughts and feelings after desperately gobbling up every word in the book, I honestly felt as if I had been sitting somewhere listening to him tell what happened instead of rapidly turning pages like a mad addict, unable to put down the book until the very end. Even now that I’m finished I can’t put it down and have been taking both books with me everywhere I go to show off to other people.

Book cover Tuesday Tucks Me In

Tuesday Tucks Me In, a children’s story by Luis Montalván, pictures by Dan Dion

Tuesday Tucks Me In

When you see an adult story that has also been written for young readers, there is generally a large gap in the type of storytelling that is used. Grown people tend to get the whole picture, while children get only a tiny glimpse of it because the author is using simple ideas and leaving out a lot of what it was that made the adults fall in love with the words written for them. I was totally astounded at Montalván’s ability to incorporate EVERY aspect of the adult book into the children’s version. Never before have I seen such a perfect merging of story, image, and information for children to experience. No, he doesn’t describe memories in exact detail the way he does for the adults, but he tells children that he has “daytime nightmares” which make him nervous about going places where there are loud noises or sudden movements. He talks about taking Tuesday to the Veteran’s hospital and even describes how Tuesday watches the trains go by in the subway station, covering each of those things in both books.

Every word Montalván uses in Tuesday Tucks Me In, relates perfectly to the children that hear his words and when you combine this storytelling with the emotional photography, every aspect of what the adults know is somehow set out for younger minds to experience. I don’t even know that I can properly describe how this works, but I know that I have pointed every parent I know to this story and then told them to get both books so they can read Until Tuesday after they read Tuesday Tucks Me In to their children.

Until Tuesday Cover

Until Tuesday, by Luis Montalván

Until Tuesday

Until Tuesday is the perfect companion to the children’s book… or is it that the children’s book is the perfect companion for Until Tuesday? Either way, I said this above, and I will say it again —  get both and read both because I could not imagine having one without the other, especially if you are the type of parent and/or teacher who likes to discuss books with children while you read or after you are finished.

Montalván’s story hits the adult world in a deeply personal way. On some level, we all know the feelings of inadequateness that he expresses when his inabilities confine him; we all know the worry of going on a first date, and the struggles of moving to a new neighborhood. The difference between the way ordinary people experience these feelings and what someone with PTSD goes through is made crystal clear with every turn of the page. I know people with PTSD and have some understanding of what it is like to live with the condition. I have felt the sorrows of those who have had to listen to someone tell them this was not a real illness or it was something they were using as an excuse to be lazy, but I have never experienced first-hand the small, everyday things that change a sufferer’s life until I started reading about Montalván and Tuesday.

Just as he did with Tuesday Tucks Me In, Montalván manages to find exactly the words and storytelling technique that touches the hearts and minds of anyone reading. He gives us a background on Tuesday and he gives us a background on himself, before the lives of the soldier and the dog merge and the story changes from one of a desperate struggle to one of hope and understanding.

This isn’t just a story about a wounded soldier and his service dog, though Montalván also incorporates his experiences of being someone with a disability living in a world where no dogs are allowed to go. There are happy times, like the day when he AND Tuesday graduated from Columbia University, but there are difficult times when he and Tuesday were harassed by people who were maybe just trying to do their jobs, but were obviously ignorant of what having a service animal really means. This is a story of hope and determination. It contains elements of expectation, frustration and joy. Obviously, this is a book about a human who loves an animal, but it is also the story of an animal’s love for a human. I think though, that the most important thing to take away from reading Until Tuesday is the understanding of how necessary it is to give service animals to those suffering from PTSD, or for people with physical injuries that might not be obvious to someone passing by.

Montalván and Tuesday have taken up this role of education with excellence and perfection and I applaud them for finding a way through the difficult memories in order to teach those who will never be forced to experience the things former Captain Luis Carlos Montalván cannot escape. It is because of his service (and the service of every warrior) that I can sit here at my computer, typing up my praises for these books, and it is because of Tuesday that Montalván was able to write these books for us. I cannot imagine the pain that reliving these memories brought to the author, but I know that his dog was right there when needed, ready to be the calm spot in a chaotic storm during the process.

When I found these books, my original intention was to write about dogs who serve former soldiers, but having read Tuesday Tucks Me In and Until Tuesday I now know that there is no way that I could convey the experience of what it is like to have a dog like Tuesday when you need him the most. For this reason, I asked Luis Carlos Montalván to review this article for me. He provided me with that help and granted me permission to use the images you see here. I welcomed it all with open arms and a grateful heart.

Captain Montalván, I thank you for your service to our country.

Tuesday, I thank you for your service to he who needed and so deserved it.

Mirrani Houpe, YPS Staff Member

Mirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade. Since that time she has owned, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them. She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at mirrani@yourpetspace.info

Book Review: A Spool Of Blue Thread

a spool of blue thread book cover

Reading Anne Tyler With Your Dog…or Cat

Anne Tyler is the author of some twenty novels, the latest of which is entitled A Spool of Blue Thread. A few of her novels, including The Accidental Tourist, have been made into movies. Tyler’s work will not have you sitting on the edge of your seat; she’s not that kind of writer. More likely, her work will have you lying back in your favorite armchair, relaxed but engaged, with your pup snoring or your kitty purring on your lap, savoring every word.

Anne Tyler has several trademarks. First of all, all of her books take place in Baltimore; it’s hard to remember the details of each one since her first book came out in 60s, but I seem to recall that most of the action unfolds in the Roland Park area of that great city. Often the old houses her characters live in seem as alive as the characters themselves. Her writing is gentle. You can tell she loves her characters. To my recollection there have been no real “bad guys” in her work. There are only people, ordinary people, people who share their secrets, and people who opt not to; people who seem to get it right all the time, and people who stumble and fall and need a helping hand. Mostly she writes about relationships in families, the little arguments that ultimately bring about change, the small concerns that motivate people to action.

ABOUT ANNE TYLER

anne tyler author

the accidental tourist book cover

Some years back, after several of her novels were published close together, a couple of reviewers began to criticize her for being too “sweet” and for having characters that were too “uniformly quirky.” That upset me a bit. Must we always have books and movies with car chases and vulgar men waiting to beat up on other vulgar men? Yes, her characters are quirky, but certainly not in a uniform way. They are as quirky as you or me, as any of us, each in our own way. In her genius, Anne Tyler is able to create characters so real we might think we would recognize them on the street. Certainly we recognize their likenesses in our own family and friend circles. And sweet? Though I like a good mystery as much as anyone, sweet, especially in Tyler’s hands, is a welcome diversion.

It’s been a couple of years now between her last book and her newest one. Maybe the gap in time has softened the critics, or maybe now that we live in what many people have come to call “the age of distraction,” the critics can see the value in her persistent downhome charm. Either way, reviewers (and readers) are loving A Spool of Blue Thread. No one seems to be giving her any flak at all.

typewriter keys

A Spool of Blue Thread is about the Whitshank family. In the course of the story readers learn about three different generations of Whitshanks, but the main focus is on Abby Whitshank: wife and mother of four. Later in the book we get a glimpse of the younger Abby, but in the opening chapters the Abby we come to know (and yes, love) is in her early seventies. She is a retired social worker, but she is still on a mission to make the world a better place in any way she can. One of her immediate concerns is that she seems to be having memory lapses now and then; time just gets away from her. Her other concern is her son Denny, the black sheep in the family, the one who can’t seem to keep a job, who forgets to be in touch, who doesn’t share details about his life when he does get in touch, who seems not to care about the lives of the other family members. The ways in which she and her grown children react to her affliction and to Denny’s shortcomings will come to define the family and set the plot in motion.

woman with book and cat

So where, you might well ask, are the pets?

Abby and her family have two dogs in the book, one when Abby’s kids are young and one as she gets older. One of the indicators of Abby’s cognitive weaknesses is that the older Abby, the one we meet first (and really the one who dominates the story), calls her dog Clarence, even though Clarence is the name of the previous dog, a black lab who died of old age years before. The new dog is Brenda, a golden retriever, and unlike Clarence, she is of course female, but Abby can’t seem to remember that. When people correct her for addressing Brenda as Clarence, she pretty much ignores them or tells them they are mistaken.

You could say the dogs are a device in the book, and in some sense they are. They symbolize the division between youth and old age. They provide evidence that Abby is suffering some kind of break with reality in her latter years. In once chapter, the younger Abby uses the excuse that she needs help getting Clarence to the vet to get her son Denny into the car so that she can drop him off at the office of a psychologist who she thinks can help him. So yes, the dogs are a device. And in fact, ultimately it is Abby’s inability to know which dog she is walking that brings about the most significant changes in the book, for all of the characters. But on the other hand, Anne Tyler’s characters are not the kind of people who would choose to go through life without pets. They are animal lovers, one and all. We expect to find dogs and cats in her stories, just as we expect to find them in the homes of certain people. And for that reason alone, Anne Tyler is a writer that “Your Pet Space” readers may want to know more about.

Joan Schweighardt

Joan Schweighardt, our Literary Editor, is a freelance writer working for both private and corporate clients. She is also a five-time published novelist. She lives in Albuquerque with her husband and her dog.

Encountering Dogs In Life and Literature

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The author’s dog, Roy–with some yogurt on his nose!

The other day I had an appointment to meet with two directors who oversee social services for homeless communities. I am writing a novel about a homeless man, and I had contacted one of the two women to ask if she could spare an hour to go over a few details with me. We made an appointment, via email, for me to come to her home office, but she let me know in advance that she and her associate were incredibly busy, meaning, no doubt, there would be no room for idle chit-chat beyond my prepared questions.

I wasn’t exactly nervous driving over, but I always feel myself becoming somewhat “reserved” when I am meeting people for the first time, especially in a business setting. So when I rang the doorbell and the door opened and a scruffy little pup ran out and began to dance around my feet, I was enthralled. The ice cracked then and there. The dog’s name was Lucky. As the woman led me to her office, she explained that she’d rescued the dog, so he was lucky, but then so was she: luck all around. As if he knew that we wouldn’t have much more opportunity to talk about him once I sat down, Lucky jumped onto my lap, and he stayed there until the other two women and I were well into our conversation. I felt lucky too.

It’s always a treat for me to walk into a room for the first time and find a friendly dog (or two or three or more) waiting there to greet me. Well behaved or not, a wagging tail and lolling tongue can do a lot to put a stranger at ease. For dog lovers at least, encountering dogs in homes (or offices) informs them immediately that they have something in common with the humans in the scenario. Right away they can presume that these new humans are more laid back, less likely to worry about absolute cleanliness, less inclined to be outraged by a little barking, a cookie stolen from the kitchen counter, a favorite slipper chewed to smithereens. Let’s face it: Dogs are chaos, and some of us thrive in chaotic settings.

travels with lizbeth cover

The sensations that engulf me (pleasure, warmth, familiarity) when I meet a dog in the flesh are only slightly more intense than those I experience when I turn a page in a book and find a dog panting there. One of my all time favorite books, for instance, is a memoir called Travels with Lisbeth: Three Years on the Road and on the Streets, by Lars Eighner, published in the ’90s. This is a remarkable story about the adventures of a homeless man who has lost everything else but relishes in the companionship of his dog, the Lisbeth of the title. The scene where she is taken away from him, for biting someone, is heart-wrenching. So as not to be a spoiler I won’t say how it is resolved (but rest assured, it is resolved).

Want To Read About a Highly Intelligent and Loving Dog?

Another favorite book about dogs, a novel published in 2009, is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Edgar, a child who is mute, is watched over by a highly intelligent and loving dog named Almondine. Edgar’s family raises dogs, so there are lots of dogs in this extremely well-written story, and if you love dogs, you will never want the book to end—certainly not the way it does.

These are two examples of books that are as much about dogs as they are about people. There are also, of course, plenty of books told from a dog’s point of view. Realist that I am, I don’t read this latter genre, though I know from fellow readers that there are many worthy titles within it. I tend to choose books, mainly novels, that explore the human condition or investigate mysteries that I have given thought to myself. Sometimes I will choose a book because someone whose reading tastes are similar to mine has told me it is extremely clever, or incredibly well written, or it has really snappy dialogue, etc. I don’t buy books because I expect to find dogs in them. But just as I am happy when I encounter a dog in real life, I’m happy to find them in the books I read too.

The Accidental Art Thief

Joan’s book, being released in May, 2015.

What a Really Old Dog Can Show About Character

I’m not talking about “dogs barking in the distance,” which seems to go on in lots of books. I’m talking about dogs that have names, personalities, dogs who carry on in the background while the human characters are working out their grievances at center stage, dogs who even work their way into the plot on occasion. Who can forget the really old dog sleeping on the porch in Robert Penn Warren’s All The King’s Men? When politician Willie Stark requires a humanizing photo in front of his family home, his men drag the sleeping dog into the right position, over by the rocking chair if I remember correctly. The gesture is so callus—and it tells us so much about the characters on hand in that moment. And who can forget the dog in Carolyn Parkhurt’s The Dogs of Babel (which, by the way, is a novel about grief, not dogs). Paul, a linguist, learns that his wife has been found dead under the apple tree in their backyard. Since their dog, Lorelei, was the only witness to the death, Paul decides he must teach Lorelei to speak. His obsession is less about believing he can really teach a dog to talk than it is about his urgent need to believe that his wife’s death was an accident and not a reflection of the state of their marriage.

middle age book cover

Not all dogs are well behaved in life, so I wouldn’t expect them to be in books either. When Lionel finally returns home after cheating on Camille in Joyce Carol Oates’ Middle Age: A Romance, the dogs Camille has been accumulating ever since Lionel’s departure attack him. I admit it; I cheered wildly over that scene!

Well Written Dogs VS Books From The Dogs’ Points Of View

If you Google “novels that include dogs” you will find the obvious ones, the books that are basically all about dogs or are told from the dogs’ points of view. Most of them will even have dog names in their titles. There are no lists (that I could find at least) that talk about dogs more or less in the background of stories otherwise about humans. In many cases these background dogs are props, there to give us a hint about the personalities or motives of the characters. But if they’re well written dogs, they will come to life anyway, just as the characters do, and add that certain je ne sais quoi to the story. And meeting them so unexpectedly can feel like a real stroke of luck.

Joan SchweighardtJoan Schweighardt’s fifth novel, The Accidental Art Thief, includes three dogs, a German Shepherd and two mutts. It releases on May 15. You can keep apprised of the launch by liking the title at facebook.com/TheAccidentalArtThief.

Book Review: The Not So Secret Life of Nimh, A Dumbo Rat

We are required to let readers know that we are compensated for our book and product reviews. We personally test the products and read the books to be able to provide the honest reviews you will read of products and books offered through our website.   

coverflatAny time that I have the opportunity to read a good book on rats and rat care, I jump in and grab it. This book was no exception. It came to me by way of Facebook, where a fellow rat owner had posted a link on her page about it, saying that if we wanted to have a copy, we should contact the author. I did this quite happily, explaining that I write for Your Pet Space and am always looking for books to review, especially when they are about rats. Within no time at all, a copy had arrived in my mail box and I didn’t even get to my front door before I had the package opened and was flipping through the pages.

Oh my gosh. If you could package cuteness, this is the way to go! Just look at that face on the cover; curious and inquisitive, coming at the camera with all the busy action of a young rat. The essence of little Nimh is clearly captured right from the beginning.

Learn Short Little Facts About Rat Care

Nimh is learning to be a program rat in a state park in Florida and the book follows the life of Nimh for a short time, introducing children (and adults) to the joys of having a rat. The book is written in the first person, from Nimh’s point of view, each page also containing short little facts about rat care. The balance between the two provides excellent places to stop on each page and discuss what you are reading. It also gives you an excuse to check out the adorable photos on each page one more time. I found myself often looking at the picture, reading, then looking at the photo again.

Nimh the dumbo rat

Aren’t I the cutest little Dumbo Rat you’ve ever seen?

If You’re Hoping To Get A Pet Rat

As a teacher (and a rat owner) I found many learning opportunities throughout this book, where anyone of any age who is hoping to get a pet rat can learn about care and handling before they go out and bring a new baby home. As Nimh grows from being 4 weeks old to being 4 months old, the book touches lightly on handling, cages, toys, food, treats, training, and most of all, behavior. I wouldn’t say that this little story is meant to tell you everything, but it is certainly the perfect introduction to having a rat as a part of your household. Anyone who is considering having a rat as a pet should have some of their basic questions answered as they read.

Learning and discussion opportunities flood the pages. When I read the book to my students I find them asking about the photos or about what has just been read. This isn’t because they don’t understand the subject, but because they are curious about what they are seeing and hearing. On one of the pages, Nimh has learned to climb out of the “playpen” and that usually is the perfect time to pause for some creative thinking. What could Nimh do now? Where would Nimh go? What would Nimh do? We also had a discussion about how the person watching Nimh would be careful to keep Nimh safe outside of the “playpen” since earlier in the book we learned that rats don’t like to get dirty and need to eat (and come in contact with) only healthy things.

Nimh the dumbo rat2

I feel safe in Barbara’s hands, safe enough to wash my hind feet.

Younger Readers Will Find The Storytelling To Their Taste But…

Obviously younger readers will find the storytelling to their taste the most, but adults will have no difficulty at all when it comes to enjoying Nimh’s story. If you love rats, you will read for the love of the animal. If you are curious about rats, you will find yourself enjoying the story much more than you might have realized, and maybe by the end of it, you might just find yourself thinking rats aren’t so bad after all. Most importantly, this is a book that a child and an adult can read together, learn from together and discuss together. Are you ready to have a rat of your own? This book might just convince you that they are perfect pets for your home. I highly recommend it as a starting block in the building of a rat care library.

Story and Photos by Barbara Cairns
Genre & Topics: Non-Fiction, Animal Care, Rats
Published in 2014 by America Star Books – Frederick, Maryland
45 pages, Illustrated with photographs
This book was a gift from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Want to buy this book?  Click below.

The Not So Secret Life of Nimh, A Dumbo Rat

Mirrani Houpe, YPS Staff MemberMirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade. Since that time she has purchased, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them. She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at mirrani@yourpetspace.info

Book Review: Ask Your Animal

Marta Williams

Marta Williams has a BS in Resource Conservation from the University of California at Berkeley, and a MS in Biology and Systematic Ecology from San Francisco State University. She spent many years studying wildlife in the field, rehabilitating ill and injured animals, and working as an environmental scientist.

Vanessa Williams

This book, by animal communicator Marta Williams, contains a forward by actress Vanessa Williams.  Vanessa describes a harrowing experience in which her dog was stolen by a ring of dog thieves, and she was only able to find him with help from Marta.  Marta was in contact with Vanessa’s dog for several days, during which she was able to relay that her pet was well, had been taken by a man and a woman…and eventually his exact location.

Marta Williams now teaches animal communication, and her students have also had amazing experiences: one of which involved someone who was able to communicate with their newly adopted dog, and convince him that continued biting would only mean his eventual death.  Another communicated with a lost and injured dog on the way to the vet, and was able to correctly identify his owner when she arrived by his description.

White Stork bill-clattering

Among other advice on animal communication, Marta also shares insight on talking with wildlife, managing garden pests and working with herbs.

The first step, she says, in learning animal communication is to tune in to your own intuition (those feelings we sometimes ignore about others, and label them unreasonable).  And she tells stories: a friend whose Malamute refused to let her walk down a certain section of beach where, in the morning it was discovered a murder had taken place; another who sold her horse to someone she thought she could trust–only to find it had been sold seven times.  During the time she was trying to track the horse down, she had dreams of her, which she now believes corresponded to times the horse was being mistreated.  Eventually, she was able to buy her horse back.

dog and girl

Animal Communication and Quantum Linguistics

Marta’s science background gives the tone of this book a very practical, down to earth (not spooky or woo woo) kind of feel.  And she talks science for a good portion of it, citing terms like “quantum linguistics” and “zero point field”.  But that in no way makes the book hard to follow.  If anything, quantum linguistics lends credibility to a subject some might fight challenging to accept has any validity.

Marta’s theory is that if we had not been conditioned since childhood to suppress our intuition, that everyone could easily understand animal communication.  And she provides exercises in the book that teach you things like how to really talk to your animals as if they understand you–because they do!

As many others have said, not only does Marta say animals have the same emotions we do, but also with the same intensity.  So there are also exercises to do with sending feelings and images to animals.  In much the same way people-oriented psychics have explained, Marta gives a quick course in clairaudience, clairsentience and clairvoyance in order to communicate with animals.  But she also encourages you to reward and even use your logical inner critic to help in the process.

The stories of people communicating with animals in random places are really quite enchanting, and even if you don’t believe in animal communication at all, this book places the very gentlest wedge in the mind about being kinder and more thoughtful of animals.  Marta even encourages you to ask your own animals to question YOU.

“The Pack Of Two” was a new concept to me, but basically what it comes down to is that a bond is formed between each individual pet and you–and that this is all our pets really want, is this connection.

friendly horse

Incidentally, horse lovers will appreciate this book, because there are tons of great stories of horse owners having successful communication and solving problems.

She Uses Techniques That Dog Experts Like Cesar Milan Recommend

If you have problems with your pack getting along with each other–or even other human  members of your household!–this book is also for you.  Marta incorporates many of the techniques that dog experts like Cesar Milan recommend, such as keeping calm and using assertive energy, and even offers advice on using complementary treatments such as herbs and flower essences to calm stressed pets.

dog meets cat

Learn How To Introduce Animals To Each Other

There’s a section on how to communicate with animals you’ve just met–such as when you’re adopting a new pet, to see if you’re a good fit for one another.  And here you can also learn how to introduce animals to each other.

Instead of advocating the methods some other experts do, such as dominance theory or establishing yourself as pack leader, Marta believes that establishing yourself as an encouraging guide–or coach–to your pet works better after learning to communicate with them intuitively.

Marta gives super advice in this book about how to tell if what your pet is doing or saying to you is better served by a vet or trainer than an animal communicator–what is a training issue and what is a medical one.  There’s even a section on interviewing your animal!

Dealing with aggressive animals, animals in distress–even some Hurricane Katrina stories!  They’re all here.  Dealing with feral animals is discussed as well.

cat handshake

Sometimes, Marta works with animal spirit guides. This can be useful in cases involving physical or emotional trauma to an animal, severe illness, or even assisting with passing into death.

Animal communicators have long been sought to help lost pets get home.  So there is an awesome research section in this book, made for the purpose of leaving no stone un-turned.

pet memorial

Helping Your Animal Say Goodbye

Of course no such book would be complete without a section on helping your animal say goodbye at the end of its life with you…but Marta also spends a respectable amount of time discussing the grief that comes afterward, and how to honor the feelings and take care of yourself during this time.  She also has come to believe over the years that animals can and do re-incarnate, just as some believe humans do–and it’s possible for them to return to you.  She even suggests that you communicate with your animal before death and ask them to return!

According to Marta, you can also talk with household pests such as insects or rodents, and ask them to refrain from coming into your space.  You may laugh, but the old peoples of this planet routinely did such things, she explains: and regularly spoke with plants, trees and animals as well.

So–basically, no matter what your question or skepticism is about animal communication, this book has a thoughtful, scientific approach to it.  I’d love to hear from anyone else who has read this or any other books by Marta Williams.  And if you want to get a copy yourself, the link is here:

Joy Jones

Joy Jones, our Editor In Chief, is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Las Cruces, New Mexico. When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at joy@yourpetspace.info as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Book Review: The Call Of The Wild

husky face

photo courtesy of Asia Jones of Canada.
http://echiax.deviantart.com/

Re-Reading A Beloved Pet Story

These days when it seems as though reading an actual paper book is a lost art, I’m feeling a wee bit like a schoolchild, writing a review of this classic novella that I first read when I was young.  But, on the off chance that some of you out there may never have enjoyed it, here goes…

The Call of the Wild is a novel by Jack London published in 1903. The story is set in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush—a period when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The novel’s central character is a dog named Buck, a domesticated dog living at a ranch in the Santa Clara valley of California as the story opens. Stolen from his home and sold into service as a sled dog in Alaska, he reverts to a wild state. Buck is forced to fight in order to dominate other dogs in a harsh climate. Eventually he sheds the veneer of civilization, relying on primordial instincts and learned experience to emerge as a leader in the wild.

This, of course,is the book jacket blurb of the story–what I was amazed by as I re-read it, was how much I remembered of the original book.  Because of this, I know it affected me deeply.  And I suspect that it was the first book I read that made me fall in love with the survival story, as a genre.

malamute

Books From The Point Of View Of Animals Always Appeal

Similar to Black Beauty, this story is told from the dog’s point of view.  Written in 1903, it is filled with the careless, mostly cruel attitude of the times about animals, and dogs in particular.  And yet there are brief, warming passages of kindness, as well.  In some places, the outright stupidity of man is heart-breakingly displayed.

jack london quote

A Pet Story About Dogs In A Harsh Climate–In More Ways Than One

As I have mentioned in previous articles, the American Humane Association was originally formed to champion abused and neglected children.  However in 1894 (about the time in which The Call Of The Wild is set), they began to speak up about the link between domestic violence and child abuse and that of animals as well.  In 1898 they were then instrumental in influencing Congress to pass a bill making it unlawful to dissect live animals in schools.  This bill also at that time placed scientists practicing vivisection under supervision of the government.  No doubt, being as well read as he was, Jack London was aware of these changes in how people were just beginning to see animals.  And this comes through clearly in his writing of John Thornton, an important character to Buck in the story.

st bernard dog

Buck is a St. Bernard/Collie mix, a big strapping boy, who easily outweighs the local timber wolves he encounters–and yet Jack London writes the dog’s attitude toward them with a respect and awe that bleeds through as obviously his own.  Since he lived most of a year in the Yukon himself, London knew the wildlife and the environment.  The character of Buck was based on a real dog London knew, owned by a friend in the Klondike.  Likewise, the ranch Buck is stolen from in the story is based on the friend’s family home.

photo courtesy of Asia Jones of Canada. http://echiax.deviantart.com/

photo courtesy of Asia Jones of Canada.
http://echiax.deviantart.com/

Books From The Point Of View Of Animals Were Not The Norm

When The Call Of the Wild was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1903, London was accused of “attributing unnatural feelings to a dog”.  But he was followed later in the 20th century by such greats as Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner, in his theme of man (or beast, in this case) throwing aside social convention and going back to nature.

Greenland Dog

A Pet Story That’s Easy To Read

Despite all those literary names, the book is an easy read–most likely due to Jack London’s simple-man writing style.  The book was a smash hit from the moment it was published, and has been re-made as a film many times: by D. W. Griffith in 1908; a second silent film was made in 1923. The 1935 version starring Clark Gable and Loretta Young expanded John Thornton’s role and was the first “talkie” to feature the story. The 1972 The Call of the Wild starring Charlton Heston as John Thornton was filmed in Finland.

samoyed

The Characters Of Dogs In A Harsh Climate

Not satisfied with Buck having a personality supposedly unwarranted in a dog, London also introduces each dog in the book with its own special personality:  Spitz, a huge white dog and Buck’s arch-rival, is as treacherous as they come.  Dave, a dog described like a Malamute, likes to be left well alone, but loves pulling in the traces.  He teaches Buck how to be a sled dog.  Curly, a friendly Newfoundland, is Buck’s best dog friend.  Billee and Joe, brother Huskies, are as different in temperament as night and day.  Sol-leks, an older Husky and rather anti-social, is always hulking in the background.  And Pike is the camp thief.  Later, a motherly Irish Setter named Skeet is introduced as one of John Thornton’s dogs, along with her sidekick, Nig, a Bloodhound/Deerhound mix.  Was this author a dog lover or what?

owl and books

More Books From The Point Of View Of Animals

If you like survival stories and/or books from the point of view of animals, you may also like: White Fang, also by Jack London (about a wolf-dog with the opposite story of Buck’s, as he moves from being wild to being tamed), The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein (about a dog), Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (about a horse), Watership Down (about rabbits), The Plague Dogs and Shardik (about a bear) by Richard Adams, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien and Warhorse by by Michael Morpurgo.

sled dogs

Today’s Dogs In A Harsh Climate

It’s also interesting to note that even with the advent of snowmobiles, sled dogs are still used today by some rural communities, especially in areas of Alaska and Canada and throughout Greenland. They are also used for recreational purposes: events known as dog sled races, such as the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest. Numerous sled dog breeds are also kept as pets or raised as show dogs.

Canadian Inuit dog

Canadian Eskimo dog, ”GRIZZLY”–photo courtesy of Beverley Arseneau of Arctic Ice Kennels of Canada. http://arcticicekennels.tripod.com/

To learn more about the sled dogs of today, you’ll want to find out about breeds such as the: Alaskan Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Canadian Eskimo Dog, Chinook, Greenland Dog, Samoyed and Siberian Husky.  And you might be surprised to know that breeds such as the Poodle, Irish setters, German Short-Haired Pointers, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland and St. Bernard have also been trained as sled dogs.

A good place to start learning about the dogs of the time is Jack London’s The Call Of The Wild.  And even if, like me, you’ve read it before, try it again–I think you’ll be drawn in right away with Buck, the dash of snow against the runners of the sled…and the distant voice of wolves.

Joy Jones Joy Jones, our Editor In Chief, is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Las Cruces, New Mexico. When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at joy@yourpetspace.info as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

What Kind Of Cat To Get–And More!

What kind of cat to get is just one of the many questions new cat adopters have. But there are many more questions, such as what are common household dangers for cats…and what do I do about that first trip to the vet?  Here’s a great book with all the answers about cats…

Good-Owners-Great-Cats-Kilcommons-Brian-9780446518079

Book Review: Good Owners, Great Cats

A Guidebook for Humans and Their Feline Companions

by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson

owl and books

Required Reading In This Book

What Kind Of Cat To Get

I see many people agonize for months over what kind of cat to get: male or female, long or short-haired, pure or mixed breed, kitten or adult? And what about coat color? So many decisions! Here you can learn about all kinds of cats, as well as how to choose a pet that would be rejected by a breeder as “not quite perfect”, when they’re really the perfect cat for you!

Litter Boxes and Litter

Again, so many decisions, so little time! For those that have never owned a cat, you have no idea of the plethora of litter box types and litter types out there: choosing everything from the shape and height of the box to whether it should be covered or not can be overwhelming in itself. Getting into choosing types of litter gets crazy too, when you’re deciding between clay or clumping, recycled paper, pelletized corn cobs, wheat hulls or wood shavings—and forget about liners and scoops! This section will explain and help you narrow down your choices nicely.

toxic

image courtesy of Krzysztof Szkurlatowski of Poland, website: www.12frames.eu

Common Household Dangers For Cats(Holiday Hazards)

I’m a natural worry wart, but when you have a new fur baby in the house, who wouldn’t be?  Here you can learn about kitten-proofing your home, with special attention to common household dangers for cats like clothes dryers, household chemicals, antifreeze and unsteady furniture.  Windows and balconies, fireplaces, car engines and even string hazards are also covered.  In a separate section you’ll find special cautions pertaining to Christmas, Halloween, The Fourth Of July and Thanksgiving.

Feline Communication

Unlike humans, cats communicate in a variety of ways we hardly or never use, such as movement, body posture and scent, as well as voice. This book begins by teaching you how to watch your cat’s ears, eyes and tail for clues as to his mood and messages to you.

kitten

Kittenhood

The First Day/The First Night

You’d be surprised at how complicated it can be just getting your new kitten home! I remember one harrowing trip to the country to pick up our cat Little Dingle as a kitten, and him crying piteously all the way back. You will need supplies and this section tells you what and why.

cat eating

Feeding Your Kitten

There are plenty of folks out there who know that kittens need different food from adult cats.  But here you can learn which foods have more colorings, flavorings and additives, how often to change your kitten’s water, and what to look for in a teething kitten.

cat at vet

First Trip To The Vet

If you’re adopting a kitten, you’ll find here some tips on choosing a great vet, as well as the essential vaccines you’ll want to know about on that first trip to the vet.

Tried and True Toys

Again, get ready to be overwhelmed by the incredible numbers of things that amuse felines! This will help you begin to narrow down categories of cat toys and even suggest many you can make at home, as well as what dangers to watch for when cats are playing.

Preventing Bad Habits

There’s very little worse than a bad habit any pet develops that could have been prevented by simply thinking ahead. This section goes over the most common feeding and grooming mistakes, as well as correct play and how to teach kittens to use a scratching post.

siamese cat

Adulthood

Grooming

I can’t tell you how many jokes are out there about the proper way to groom a cat! But here, there’s no joking going on. Just common sense tips about grooming long or short-haired cats, and even tips on removing mats from fur. You can also learn about how to care for the skin of the varieties of hairless cats, the best way to clip cat nails and how to bathe a cat—no, really!

Cat Training

One way to strengthen the bond between you and your cat is with training. Help with tone of voice and your body language is in this section, as well as learning how to motivate your cat. You can also read about whether positive or negative reinforcement training is best, and all about training your cat to a carrier. And yes, there are even tricks you can learn in this section, such as sit, stay, down, come when called—just like dogs!

cat and dog fighting

Dogs and Cats

Speaking of dogs, if you already have a canine when you get your cat, is that a problem? Not if you have this book. Here, the writers handle common problems such as scratching at eyes, stealing of each other’s food, litter box raiding, or your dog playing too roughly. You can also learn how to handle when your cat intimidates your dog, and jealousy between the dog and cat.

cat claws

photo courtesy of Sofi Gamache of Canada, http://www.redbubble.com/people/animanikati

Solving Feline Behavior Problems

Your Behavior Changing Arsenal

You’ve heard of them all, these deterrents to feline misbehavior. But how are they used? Learn how to use items like spray bottles, shake cans, air-horns, pressurized air—even contact paper and mousetraps to keep your kitties in line.

The Great Declaw Debate

Here, learn the facts about whether to declaw or not. Then, move on to causes of and dealing with feline aggression, as well as treatment of abscesses which can develop from fighting among cats.

cat eating plants

Plant Eating

Even in the wild, cats eat more than meat. But this section will help you deal with finicky eaters as well as keeping kitty off your houseplants. There’s even a recipe for cat salad!

Making An Outdoor Cat An Indoor One

Our cat, Cash, lived the first six months of his life outdoors…so I can tell you this can be a tedious process.  This section explains the entire transition process, though, including using positive reinforcement to correct the cat, dealing with his stress, and keeping his mind active.

About The Authors Brian Kilcommons has had pre-veterinary training at Iowa State University, and now owns a training and obedience school in Gardiner, New York. Sarah Wilson graduated from Lesley University with a Master’s degree focused on the human-animal relationship.

More About The Book I have only highlighted the bare bones of the wealth of information this book contains. But I find it such a comprehensive guide to cats that if you want to know if your question is in this book, feel free to e-mail me or ping me with our new chat feature here on the site.

Buy This Book At Amazon

Joy Jones Joy Jones, our Editor In Chief, is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Anderson, Ohio. When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column called The Midwestern Buddhist as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at joy@yourpetspace.info as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Pet Book Reviews: The Dog Listener

The other day I was asked about puppy bonding techniques.  And I was pleased, because it at last gave me a chance to do one of my favorite pet book reviews.

And on the amichien bonding method, no less!

Jan Fennell

Jan Fennell

Jan Fennell is the international best selling author of “The Dog Listener” and her training, the amichien bonding method, is used by dog owners worldwide. The success of her method has resulted in six books being translated into 27 languages and published in 34 countries! Jan has had two national television series in the UK and Australia, television appearances in the UK, New Zealand, the USA, Poland and Australia, countless radio appearances in many more countries and has given talks and seminars in twenty six countries- to date.

I began reading Jan Fennell’s The Dog Listener just after speaking to an animal communicator about our young dog, Castle.  We were having some behavior problems with our little Brittany, among them mouthing, jumping and border running (incessant barking at the fence line).

Never having heard of the amichien bonding method myself, I’ll explain a bit here:

The amichien bonding method, simply put, is one of respect and understanding rather than a form of dominance or force.  By intuiting how dogs treat each other, we can key into how they choose freely to follow a leader, instead of being made to.

KEY POINTS IN THE AMICHIEN BONDING METHOD

Jan Fennell’s teachings are based on four times in wolf families where the pack members re-establish who is leader:

  1. When the pack hunts.
  2. When the pack eats.
  3. At times of danger.
  4. When the pack reunites.

It is at these times that dog owners must understand how to make dogs want to do what we expect of them of their own free will.

puppy bonding techniques french bulldog leashedWhen the pack hunts translates as walking in the modern dog world.  Jan tackles subjects in this area such as dogs that run wild off leash and don’t return, chaos in the car, and so on.

pet book reviewsWhen the pack eats is handled in many different ways, including eating first (or at least “fake eating”, since in wolf packs the alpha pair eat and then the rest of the pack) and dealing with problem eaters as well.

I can tell you that Dave and I personally have mastered mealtimes using Jan’s techniques with our three dogs.  We simply establish our leadership by waiting until all three have given us a “down stay” to put food down–and although this was tricky at first, we now have it down to less than 60 seconds per mealtime!

Dog Danger: pet book reviews“At times of danger” could cover a lot of territory–but certainly for us, border running was equivalent to this issue.  Castle was once attacked by a dog only blocks from our home, and its clueless owner continues to walk him right by our house every day.  Castle would begin fear barking and racing all around the yard to confront her nemesis approaching from all angles every time he passed.  And when we did force her back inside by using a leash, she would still bark and pace agitatedly for some time after.

Thanks to Jan’s book, and the amichien bonding method, we rarely now have trouble getting her to be more interested in coming in than barking at the fence.  But she also covers things like canine confrontations, fear of noises and dogs that bite. running dog pet book reviewsWhen the pack reunites, for us, took a little longer to understand–until we realized that it meant every time we re-entered the room, to a dog!  But this was the reason for Castle’s jumping–and the solution much simpler than you might expect.

Other situations Jan covers in this book include: nervous aggression, separation anxiety, puppy bonding techniques, potty training problems, multiple dog issues, dogs that are too possessive (of owners and/or toys), nervous dogs in general and problems specific to rescue dogs.

The book also includes a 30 day training guide–how cool is that?  And she even got her horse training hero, Monty Roberts, to write the foreword!

In short, we highly recommend The Dog Listener, and the amichien bonding method!

Here are some words from Jan, also, taken from her website:

“The absolute joy that dogs have brought into my life, from a very early age, made me wonder if it were possible to repay this gift in any way.

Like a lot of dog owners, I was less than happy with traditional training of dogs, which involve jerking, pushing and punishment but knew of no other method. There was also the widespread acceptance of the notion that to successfully work with a dog demanded a knack or special gift, a belief that prevents many loving owners from ever succeeding.

Also, like most people, I knew that dogs had an excellent communication system of their own but as a human, with a completely different method of communication, failed to see how I could bridge the gap and make real “contact”. Then in 1989 a good friend, Wendy Broughton, introduced me to the work of the acclaimed horseman Monty Roberts, and I saw, for the first time, how it was possible to not only learn the communication system or language of another species but more importantly, find a way of responding in an acceptable, kind way to that animal and thereby open true conversation, with the emphasis on working with the true nature of the animal, gaining its trust and willingness to co-operate, of its own free will.

This gift of understanding means that we are all now able to quickly identify, understand and consequently, resolve all type of undesirable behaviour. We can do this (no matter what the breed or age of dog) without the use of force, fear, frustration or gadgets, and it can be achieved by anyone who chooses to adopt my method ‘Amichien® Bonding’.

There is only one thing better than finding something so special and that is being able to share it, which I have been able to do through the books, DVD’s and courses for many years now and how wonderful it is to have a team of highly qualified colleagues, worldwide, passing on this information in such a way that empowers all dog owners.

I wish you joy on your journey of understanding and promise that you can do this too.”

Jan Fennell

Click here to buy: Books By Jan Fennell

Joy Jones Joy Jones, Publisher, is also the Vice President of Your Pet Space, a cage free dog boarding facility serving the greater Las Cruces, NM area. She is also a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave (below). When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at joy@yourpetspace.info as well as send her a friend request on Facebook.

Adopting A Puppy: A Book Review

puppy schnauzerIf you’re thinking of adopting a puppy, we highly recommend the following book:

How To Raise The Perfect Dog

by Melissa Jo Peltier and Cesar Millan (audio version narrated by John H. Mayer)

As I listened to the Audible edition of this book, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to work for Cesar Millan, and be able to sit around my office watching puppy cams whenever I wanted.  In fact, this entire book is an oblique look at how things are run at the Dog Psychology Center–which makes it a fun and interesting read/listen.

In the introduction, Cesar Millan states that the purpose of this book is to teach that adopting a puppy and raising it is a learned skill, not innate–and that although we often think of our dogs as our babies, it’s a very different thing to raise a puppy than a human baby.  He calls puppies “little survival machines”, and calls upon us to see that dogs themselves are the best teachers of how they should be raised with rules, boundaries and limitations in order to thrive and become perfect pets.

Although this book starts with Cesar selecting four very different dogs to follow along the path from adoption to adolescence, the book is super useful for owners with dogs of any age.  It’s important to note as well that dogs are considered:

Puppies–until 8 months old

Adolescents–from 8 months to 3 years

Adults–over 3 years

labradorThere are four dogs featured in the book, varying in age from puppyhood to adolescence.  Some came from breeders, some from rescues.  The dogs are:

Junior–a Pit Bull

Blizzard–a Labrador Retriever

Angel–A Miniature Schnauzer

Mr. President–an English Bulldog

Those readers familiar with Cesar’s former show The Dog Whisperer will know that pit bulls are one of his favorite breeds–in fact, in this book he says that he recommends people with children seek a puppy of this breed which has balanced energy and is well socialized, as the breed’s very characteristics of toughness and stamina make it a perfect choice for children that want to climb on the dog and pull on its ears, etc.  His 16 year old pit bull, Daddy, was famous for calming the energy of unstable dogs on Cesar’s show, and actually helped him select Junior!

Cesar has worked with John Grogan’s family, but was determined that Blizzard not be another “Marley and Me”.

He worked with each dog individually to raise them more as dogs first, and then to honor what they were actually created to do as breeds.  Cesar believes that adopting a puppy and raising it as naturally as possible creates a natural balance in its energy, and makes it the perfect pet!

So–if you’re looking for a comprehensive guide for adopting a puppy, we highly recommend this book.  Follow the link below to buy this one and more at Cesar’s Bookstore!

adopting a puppy perfect dog Get great Books and More from CesarsWay.com

Books: All Creatures Great And Small

dog eared bookSome time ago, our Facebook page manager, John Jordan, recommended a series of books to me that I’d heard of, but never explored.  If, like me at the time, you’ve never read All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, you’re in for a treat!

In 1940, James Alfred Wight worked at a rural veterinary practice in the town of Thirsk, Yorkshire, close to the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors in England.

The first book in this series, All Creatures Great And Small, consists of partially autobiographical stories of his career as a country vet and his many adventures caring for the dogs, cats and farm animals of the locals. According to Wikipedia, Wight’s son, Jim states “a lot of the stories, although set in the 1930s, 1940s or 1950s in the books, were actually inspired by cases that Wight attended in the 1960s and 1970s.”

Not only do you get a great feel for the heart of the English people of the region, but also for the challenges vets face–and I think you’ll find no other series of books about pets to be so utterly charming.

Herriot’s style of writing, as well, is easy to follow.  And it’s interesting to imagine what it was like to live at that time–not only from the perspective of the rather primitive veterinary resources that were available but, for me, just imagining what it would be like to stand in a freezing barn or field for hours, waiting for your part in some major event, like a calving.

By the time you reach the end of the first book, you really feel like you met Dr. Herriot yourself, and know him as a kind and dedicated man.  And by the way, the adventures as he meets and courts his wife are just hilarious!

It’s always been amazing to me that real people are far more fascinating than made up characters could ever be, and never more so than in this series of books.  You’ll love them!

 Check out the YPS Bookstore for this and other awesome books about pets!

 Joy JonesJoy Jones is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Anderson, Ohio.  When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column called The Midwestern Buddhist as well as urban fantasy and humor.  You can e-mail her at joy@yourpetspace.info as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.