Great Book Gift Ideas for the Dog Lover – Volume I

Holidays are stressful enough! Add the frustration of what to get that pet owner who has everything, and you have a little more angst in your life. If that individual is owned by a dog, here is wide range of books, any one of which is certain to be a big hit with the gift recipient:

Pet Care in the New Century: Cutting Edge Medicine for Dogs and Cats, Amy D. Shojai (Penguin Putnam, $14)

This might just be the best Christmas present you could give that pet-owning friend or relative with everything. Written by one of the country's premier pet-care journalists, it is packed with just the kind of information you need to determine a course of action when your pet becomes seriously ill.

When most owners receive a veterinarian or veterinary radiologist's diagnosis of a major problem, shock sets in. What to do? Where to turn?

"Pet Care" is the AAA equivalent of a trip planner. It's a comprehensive primer of health and behavior problems written in an easy-to-read fashion. Shojai has the uncanny ability to takes a foreign language (science) and convert it into everyday basic English you and I can understand.

Pet health care traveled a slow, steady journey through most of the 20th century, but accelerated into high gear the last two decades. Most likely scientists will continue to have their foot to the pedal this century – which is good news to anyone owning a pet.

As Shojai notes, human and veterinary medicine has benefited from each other's work, and will continue to do so.

For instance, did you have any idea some of these options are available to your pet: prosthetic limb, bone graft, kidney transplant, tissue transplant, cartilage transplant, artificial hip, dental offerings such as fillings, crowns, root canals and tooth implants, hearing aid, pacemaker, special cancer diet formula and the list goes on. The author details the coming of age of veterinary specialties, advances in medical tools and expertise, ethics and research and brave new world of molecular and genetic medicine.

This only sets the stage for Part 2's comprehensive package of health and behavior conditions. If Pet Care does nothing else, it will arm you with hope and knowledge that help's just a phone call or e-mail away. Consider it the prime instrument in your arsenal as you move forward through a psychological minefield to get the best and most immediate care for that beloved pet of yours.

Alone Across the Arctic: One Woman's Epic Journey by Dog Team by Pam Flowers with Ann Dixon. Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co. $22.95.

Superbly illustrated and written in a diary format, this riveting February 1993-January 1994 adventure will leave you in awe.

Flowers retraces a 1923-24 expedition by Norwegian explorer Knud Rasmussen and two Inuit companions from Greenland across the entire length of the North American Arctic coast by dog team from Repulse Bay, Canada, to Barrow, Alaska, a distance of approximately 2,500 miles.

Because Flowers lived in Alaska, she made the journey in reverse fashion – from west to east. This is all about challenge and mettle, but presented in an absorbing format you can set aside for a rest stop.

Delightfully, the opening chapter introduces you to all members of her eight-dog team with short vignettes of each, plus includes a two-page illustration pinpointing dogsled team positions to give you a better grip of the literary dynamics ahead.

Now you're on the way. Her journal's entries are prefaced with date, temperature, wind and mileage traveled since the last stop, followed by brief highlights of the day's proceedings.

While this volume would make the superb gift for any adventurous dog owner, it would be perfect for anyone owning a northern breed.

P.S.: If you have any doubt about the caliber of her accomplishment, consider this: Flowers was awarded a gold medal from the Society of Women Geographers, the same honor previously bestowed upon Amelia Earhart and Jane Goodall.

Zen Dog by Toni Tucker and Judith Adler, Clarkson Potter /Publishers. $17.

This upbeat little work illustrates dogs being dogs in photos matched with accompanying quotations from Buddha, Lao Tzu and other Zen masters. In these stressful times, it is bound to please. It will have you smiling and coaxing your four-legged friend to curl up alongside while you navigate the pages.

The authors establish early: "Maybe a single dog year is worth seven human years because dogs don't have useless things hanging in their minds and can instead squeeze in seven times more love in year than any of us ever could."

"How often have you seen dogs unconditionally love their people, even the most difficult ones, in ways it would seem Buddha himself would have a challenge mastering."

Here are few examples of what you'll find inside (and you'll just have to imagine what the accompanying photo looks like):

"Do not think you will necessarily be aware of your own enlightenment." – Buddha/ Dhammapada

"It is right in your face. This moment the whole thing is handed to you." – Lao Tzu / Tao Te Ching

"Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child." – Ancient Sanskrit manuscript / Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

"The fool who knows he is a fool is that much wiser. The fool who thinks he is wise is a fool indeed." – Buddha/Dhammapada

Dogtionary: Meaningful Portraits of Dogs by Sharon Montrose. Viking. $19.95.

Featuring more than 80 photos, this whimsical volume is organized with lighthearted "doggie definitions" from A to Z and equally off-the-wall captions. Montrose is a Los Angeles commercial photographer.

101 Uses for a Dog Willow Creek Press. $14.95.

A great stocking stuffer for the mutt or purebred lover, this text-and-photo kaleidoscope details roles the canine can play around the house, as a playmate, as a worker and as a specialist.

Lab Rules: Virtues of the Canine Character Photography by Lee Thomas Kjos. Willow Creek Press. $14.95.

If you have a friend or relative who owns a Labrador retriever, here's a good choice. It's packed with inspiring quotes and colorful matching portraits of America's most popular breed.

Several examples:

Loyal: "There is no faith which has never yet been broken, except that of a truly faithful dog." – Konrad Lorenz

Curious: "A sense of curiosity is nature's original school of education." – Smiley Blanton

Intelligent: "All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers, is contained in the dog." – Franz Kafka

Enthusiasm: "Living with a dog is easy – like living with an idealist. – H.L. Menken

For ideas on more great books, see Great Book Gift Ideas for the Dog Lover – Volume II.