Newest Pets Reviews

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Worzel says hello! Will you be my friend? by Catherine Pickles and Chantal Bourgonje

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I'd like you to meet Worzel, but you'll need to do exactly what I say. Worzel is quite a big dog, but that doesn't mean that he's fierce, or even very brave. In fact, he's frightened, and little as you are, he's frightened of you. He'd like to meet you though: can you see that nose just poking out from the side of the sofa? Now he's peering over the cushion - and finally he's risking leaving that very safe place he's found, behind the sofa. Full review...

Talking to Gina by Ottilie Hainsworth

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This is what happened. An artist decided she needed a dog – so drove the length of the country, Brighton to Grimsby, to pick up an Eastern European immigrant street dog with some mange and one working eye. Why not? The first night at home, Gina – the dog – eats something she shouldn't and causes a mess, so it's not a great start, but then begin the tribulations of training, status and behaviour all humans must go through with their dogs. And then, the life with Gina begins to feel like too much – I felt weird about you, because you were always there. My thoughts were taken over by you, and I felt sick, as if I was in love. Slowly, however, everyone – our artist/author, her husband, two children and two cats – gets to form the family they and Gina all would have wanted. Full review...

Conversations with Kammie by Annie Ingram

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It was something of a relief when I encountered Annie Ingram and her cocker spaniel Kammie. You see, Annie knows something which has been self-evident to me for a long time: dogs are perfectly capable of communicating with humans and not just on a level of food!, walk! or play!. You do require extensive training to become fluent, but most dogs will be perfectly willing to give their time to teach you and all you have to do is listen. Annie has studied hard: Kammie has trained her well and the pair have allowed us to share some of their conversations. Full review...

Choosing the Perfect Puppy by Pippa Mattinson

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If you have ever, for even a fleeting moment, thought about getting a puppy, you really ought to read this book. Too many people are carried away in the heat of the moment and must have a particular breed and go ahead without any thought about the consequences. They then have to live with the problems which might have been avoided for a decade or more. The puppy and the adult dog also has to live with an owner who might not be able to accommodate his needs. Pippa Mattinson is my go-to author on matters dog related: she talks sense. She doesn't try to talk you out of getting a particular breed or any puppy: she simply presents the facts and allows you to make your own decisions. Full review...

Dog on a Digger: The Tricky Incident by Kate Prendergast

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I'm going to tell you a story about Dog, Man, Lady and the Pup. They all work on an industrial site - in fact Dog and Man live there in a caravan and Man drives the sort of digger which is dreamed about by boys large and small. Lady and the Pup run the snack bar and one day as they're all having something to eat, the Pup goes missing. Man and Lady search everywhere but it's Dog's sharp ears which finally track him down - caught in a branch over a fast-flowing stream. And it's Dog who works out how to rescue him. I needed 88 words to tell you that story, but Kate Prendergast does it without using a single one - and she tells it in a far more engaging way than I could ever manage. Full review...

50 Games to Play With Your Cat by Jackie Strachan

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Cats love to play. It is written in their DNA. From kittenhood onward, an innate curiosity about the world around them spurs cats to view everything as a potential plaything. For cats, the desire to play helps them to hone their hunting skills. For cat owners, it provides an opportunity to bond with a much-loved pet and create special moments that are entertaining to both cat and human alike. If you are stuck for ideas for games to play with your cat, or would simply like to try something new, then 50 Games To Play With Your Cat provides plenty of inspiration. Full review...

Dogs on Instagram by @dogsofinstagram

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I'm a sucker for dogs: I can't walk past one in the street without stopping and having a conversation, sometimes without bothering to speak to the owners, so a book of pictures of dogs was going to be right up my street. The wildly popular @dogs_of_instagram, run by Ahmed El Shourbagy and his wife Ashley and launched just four years ago gives us this book of over four hundred photographs of dogs. Originally I had no intention of reviewing it: in fact I wasn't even intending to read the book, just to have a quick flick through, but within five minutes I was showing other people in the office the picture of the Weimaraner riding a bicycle. Full review...

Miracle: The extraordinary dog that refused to die by Amanda Leask

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Amanda Leask has been obsessed with dogs all her life and it's been an obsession which needs the world and a lot of it's attitudes to dogs to change for the better. She's not daunted by the obstacles: she's simply determined to do all that she possibly can to make the world a better place for dogs. Amanda lives with her husband Tobias, son Kyle and more than twenty rescue and sled dogs near Inverness. Very nice, you're probably thinking. Wouldn't we all like to have that sort of lifestyle? But hold on a minute. Full review...

Dog on a Train: The Special Delivery by Kate Predergast

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It's one of those mornings for Boy: late out of bed he grabs at his hat and hurtles out of the house to catch his train - only he drops his hat as he goes through the door and Dog chases after him with the hat in his mouth. They head to the tube station (Dog doesn't forget to wait at the zebra crossing) with boy just twenty or so yards in front, but Dog is losing ground as he has to find someone to carry him on the escalator. He misses Boy's train and has to wait for the next one, but remembers his manners well enough to stand up so that an old lady can have his seat. Will he catch up with boy when he reaches London Kings Cross? Full review...

The Labrador Handbook: The definitive guide to training and caring for your Labrador by Pippa Mattinson

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In 2014 about 16% of all pedigree puppies registered with the Kennel Club were Labradors - and that's with over 200 breeds to choose from. They're one of the most respected breeds and with good reason - great as gundogs, brilliant in the show ring and a wonderful part of the family to boot. Author Pippa Mattinson is a zoologist and founder of The Gundog Trust. She supports modern, science-based dog training methods - but her passion is about helping people to enjoy their dogs. If you're looking for advice about Labradors, she is going to be difficult to better. Full review...

Beautiful Dogs Postcard Book: 30 Postcards of Champion Breeds to Keep or Send by Andrew Perris

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If you're looking for a present for a dog lover, Beautiful Dogs might fit the bill. It's a book of thirty postcards, which you can either send or keep in the book. You might expect to find the more usual breeds - Labradors, Retrievers and the like - but instead you'll find more exotic breeds such as the Bedlington Terrier and the Bolognese. There's just the one dog or bitch on each card and Andrew Perris has managed to give us an excellent view of the animal whilst allowing it to look completely natural. Full review...

My Gentle Barn: where animals heal and children learn to hope by Ellie Laks

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As a child Ellie Laks was abused, but not only did she suffer at the hands of her abuser, she also had to endure parental indifference to what was happening to her. Her only relief came through animals - and even then she had to cope when the animals were taken from her. As an adult she discovered that she had a real talent for healing animals - and that they helped her to heal too. In a brilliant leap of intuition she realised that if the animals could help her to heal they could do the same for others and so the Gentle Barn was born - a place where animals were brought as a place of safety and where disadvantaged children and special needs groups could use as therapy. Full review...

The Happy Puppy Handbook: Your Definitive Guide to Puppy Care and Early Training by Pippa Mattinson

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Unfortunately far too many people acquire puppies because of the aww... factor. They look gorgeous, cuddly, cute - rather like an animated soft toy - and there are people who have to have one. Now. The reality is that bringing a puppy into your home - into your life - requires about the same level of planning as moving home and the best guide which I've seen to preparing for a puppy and the early stages of living with one is Pippa Mattinson's The Happy Puppy Handbook. Do get it well in advance. If you're only thinking about getting a puppy it might even put you off - but then it will be well worth the cover price if it saves you a great deal of expense and even more heartache. Full review...

The Puppy Express: On the road with 25 rescue dogs . . . what could go wrong? by David Rosenfelt

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If you're moving home from Southern California with twenty five rescue dogs how, exactly do you do it? Add in that these are mostly elderly dogs who've already had too much change and trauma in their lives and it's obvious that crating them and flying them across country isn't going to work. They couldn't all go together and the trip would take about twenty four hours with all the changes - and that's before you even begin to think about the prohibitive cost. In the end the answer was a convoy of three motorhomes, the addition of nine helpers and just about non-stop driving across the continent. Fun, eh? Full review...

I am Cat (mini edition) by Jackie Morris

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You're always supposed to tell when a dog is dreaming – the twitching limbs and jerking joints allegedly proving the sleeping Fido is imagining himself on the chase. Cats are, as always, a bit more secretive, but Jackie Morris offers evidence here that they are more or less thinking the same thing – even the domestic moggy, curled up and closed in, is picturing a different self – one sleeking through snows, relaxing on the savannah or alertly moving through its territory. It's a very pleasant view into the mindset of cats. Full review...

The Dog Nobody Loved by Jon Katz

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When we first meet Jon Katz he's not in a good place: his marriage of thirty-five years was breaking up and he was close to a nervous breakdown. He didn't need any more problems. He particularly didn't need a young rescue dog, a Rottweiler/Shepherd mix, who'd been living wild, to contend with and to upset the fragile equilibrium of the life he lived with his animals on Bedlam Farm. Frieda was near feral but devoted to her rescuer, Maria Wulf and it was Maria who was at the centre of this conundrum. Katz was spectacularly disconnected from the world - and Maria was the only person to whom he seemed able to talk, but to connect with Maria he had to connect with Frieda too. Full review...

Do Dogs Dream?: Nearly Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Stanley Coren

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If you love dogs this book is an absolute gem. It's not going to explain to you how to feed or train your dog. There's no advice on first aid or when you should seek advice from the vet. What you get are seventy two essays on subjects which dog lovers ponder on, each one just two or three pages long and written in terms which the layman can understand. I've opened the book at random and found 'Why Do Dogs Touch Noses?', 'Do Dogs Recognize Themselves in a Mirror?' and 'Why Do Puppies Sleep in a Pile?' There's nothing there that you absolutely have to know so that you can keep a dog as he should be kept but by the time that you've finished you will know him a lot better. Full review...

Goodnight Buffy: Loving a Lakeland Terrier by Thomasina Price

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Most dog owners will confess that even after a lifetime of ownership there is one dog who holds their heart. Often the close bond has been forged because of the dog’s ill health, although it never seems to be completely one-sided: an interdependence develops and dog and human seem to exist as one. The dog who stole my heart was a Rhodesian Ridgeback - for Thomasina Price it was Buffy the Lakeland Terrier. She had a traumatic start to life, found hiding in a shop doorway in Blackpool she was taken in by a young woman, but she, in turn contracted ovarian cancer and at the age of two Buffy came to what was at least her third home when she was fostered by Thomasina Price’s sister. Full review...

Rescuing Gus by Melissa Wareham

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Melissa Wareham was convinced that she must be adopted: how could someone like her who loved dogs have been born to parents who, well, wouldn't have them in the house? She wasn't even that convinced when her mother produced her birth certificate. Melissa wouldn't be able to have a dog until she had a home of her own but in the meantime she got a job at Battersea Dogs' Home and it was there that she met Gus. He wasn't in the first flush of youth and his breath was a weapon of mass destruction, but he and Melissa bonded and when he was very poorly - he had kennel cough - she took him home. Full review...

The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs with Foreword by Malcolm Gladwell

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I think it's fair to say that you're not even going to pick this book up unless you're a dog lover. If you've always yearned for a cat and shudder at the thought of early morning walks in the rain then this is definitely no the book for you. But - if you know, or are known by a dog then it's the equivalent of that massive hamper of chocolate delights to a chocoholic. Only a magazine like the New Yorker could raid its archives and produce such a massive compendium of humour, illustrations, essays, fiction, poems and cartoons about dogs, or have a cast of writers which could put many a bookshop to shame. Full review...

One Dog and His Man by Mike Henley

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Oberon is a Labrador with a pedigree as long as your arm and One Dog and His Man is his story about what it's like living with the man he generously refers to as The Boss, about life in general and the ways of the world. Think of him as the canine equivalent of the parliamentary sketch writer, there to highlight the idiosyncrasies of human life and bring a gentle humour to situations which might otherwise be taken far too seriously. Before you wonder how this is possible - how a dog can write a book - let me remind you that dogs are very intelligent animals. After all, dogs and their humans might go to what are laughingly called 'dog training classes', but it's the humans who are trained, not the dogs. Full review...

Tricks and Games To Teach Your Dog: How to Turn Your Much-Loved Pet into an Accomplished Performer by Sophie Collins

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Over a lifetime of owning dogs, from the small and nippy Jack Russells to the large and loving Rhodesian Ridgebacks, I've learned that the more you do with your dog - the more you interact - the better your dog will be. People say that they're not great conversationalists (personally I'd disagree) but they have a tremendous willingness to please and they love to have fun with you. Sophie Collins has put together a collections of tricks and games which you can teach your dog and they range from the sit, stay and down of basic training through to quite complicated tasks and agility training. There's something there for every size and every age. Full review...

The Puppy Diaries: Living with a Dog Named Scout by Jill Abramson

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Jill Abramson had a dog whom she adored - a White West Highland by the name of Buddy - and after his death she wasn't certain that she wanted another dog. Would she bond with the newcomer? Would she always be comparing the pup with his predecessor? But - times change - and in 2009 Jill and her husband Henry brought home a Golden Retriever by the name of Scout. Over the following year Abramson wrote a column about raising Scout for the New York Times website and it's this column which forms the basis for 'The Puppy Diaries: Living With a Dog Named Scout'. Full review...

Dogs Never Lie About Love: Why Your Dog Will Always Love You More Than Anyone Else by Jeffrey Masson

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Readers come to books for strange reasons but I don't think that I've ever before picked up a book, looked at the title and being intrigued not by what was suggested but by how anyone could think differently. 'Dogs Never Lie About Love' is a statement of the obvious to me. I've lived with and around dogs for most of my life and I know that dogs are incapable of pretence. I've never met a dog I couldn't trust: if it doesn't like me, it will tell me so straight away. It will not attempt to trick me. I only wish that I could say the same about most of the humans I encounter. Full review...

Canine Perspectives by David Cavill

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David Cavill has spent much of his adult life around dogs, with the Finnish Spitz holding a special place in his heart. Amongst other things - he was founder of the Animal Care College, worked as a senior manager at Battersea Dogs' Home, judging and advising on the selection, care and training of pedigree and mongrel dogs - he wrote a regular column for Our Dogs newspaper and Dogs Monthly. It's these and other articles which are reproduced here and as there's a time span of fifteen years they allow the reader to see what has changed and - probably more importantly - what hasn't. Full review...

Archie the Guide Dog Puppy: Hero in Training by Sam Hay

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I don't often pick up a non-fiction book for the 7+ age group, find it riveting reading and informative about a subject with which I'm already familiar, but that was the case with Archie: Hero in Training. Archie is a puppy destined to be a guide dog for a blind person and he's just one story in a book about the pups-in-training, the working dogs, the adults who have guide dogs, or struggle to learn the techniques - or even what happens to the dogs who don't turn out to be what's needed. There's a full range as well as information about what a guide dog costs - and it's not cheap! Full review...

Pig in the Middle by Matt Whyman

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I'm so pleased I read this book. It's only the occasional writer who grabs me by the short and curlies with his observation of human nature, but accomplished children's writer Matt Whyman not only grabbed me, but sold me on the mini-pigs as well. Full review...