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Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Books
Reviews by Steve Dale

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The Healing Power of PetsThe Healing Power of Pets: Harnessing The Amazing Ability Of Pets To Make And Keep People Happy And Healthy
by Dr. Marty Becker and Danelle Morton

Pets are good for us, and Becker gathers stories from around world to make his case. He documents how doctors are actually writing prescriptions which indicate "get a pet," especially for recovering heart patients; how hippotherapy (therapeutic horseback riding) helps kids with a multiple array of disabilities, how a dog named Bear help to break through to kids at Thurston High School after Kip Kinkel killed two of his fellow students, and how dogs are able to reach children with autism. Most interesting and convincing is the medical evidence, the real science behind the stories. Becker gathers this evidence and explains in easy to understand language what doctors, psychologists and other researchers have published in medical journals.

This book no doubt contributed to Becker winning the 2002 Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award for promoting and human/animal bond. The honor was bestowed at the Tufts Animal Expo (which Chenny Troupe presented at) in Boston, MA on September 12.

The Angel by My SideThe The Angel by My Side: The True Story of a Dog Who Saved a Man…and a Man Who Saved a Dog
by Mike Ligenfelter and David Frei

It was 1995 and Mike Lingelfelter was ready for his life to be over. He had suffered two heart attacks, and had open-heart surgery. Experts said the prognosis was not good, and made worse because of his depression. That was until he met his life-saver, a golden retriever named Dakota. When Mike says life-saver, he means it. Dakota actually warns Mike of imminent heart episodes, and potentially saves his life each time. Dakota changed Mike's life in so many other ways, which he details in his incredible account.

This story isn't your typical feel-good one note tune, there are twists and turns. One of those appeared to be a turn for the worse when Dakota was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Mike sought the best treatment he could find, even if it meant traveling from Alabama to the Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University's veterinary teaching hospital - Ft. Collins. However, Mike believes more than just good medicine and healthy nutrition saved his dog's life. He writes about just how powerful that connection can be between people and their pets.

A Flying Squirrel In My CoffeeThere's A Flying Squirrel In My Coffee: Overcoming Cancer With The Help Of My Pet
by Bill Gross

Lt. Commander Bill Gross, USN (Ret) lived the American dream, from garbage man to being strapped into the rear cockpit of a dual seat F-18 Hornet readying to break the sound barrier. All seemed great, that was until he was told what are arguably the most terrifying three words in the English language, "You have cancer."

This is Gross's account of his triumph over cancer, thanks to Rocky - a flying squirrel. This is proof that your pet doesn't have to be a dog or a cat to help. This book is inspirational, charming and just plain interesting - how a tiny flying squirrel can help a strapping Navy Lieutenant beat the only force in his life he was afraid of.

Current Recommendations from Steve

If Only They Could SpeakIf Only They Could Speak: Stories about Pets and Their People
by Dr. Nicholas Dodman

Dodman, who founded the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine Behavior Clinic, is arguably the most successful pet book author in recent years. His titles include "The Dog Who Loved Too Much," "The Cat Who Cried for Help," and "Dogs Behaving Badly."

Can dogs actually become jealous? He's a scientist, he's not supposed to think so - but Dodman has the courage to say "yes" animals do have feelings. Most important, he explains through real-life examples, what to do when your pet is stricken with the green-eyed monster. Dodman is a great storyteller and his real-life examples are more than merely helpful, they're entertaining to read.

The Good LifeThe Good Life: Your Dog's First Year
by Mordecai Siegal and Matthew Margolis

Siegal is the dean of American pet writers. He single-handedly created pet sections in bookstores by proving years ago that dog training books can sell. Margolis, who has teamed with Siegal on many books, is the former host "Woof! It's A Dog's Life" on public television and is known as Uncle Matty.

If there is a puppy season, this is it. There are tips on housebreaking, crate training, puppy chewing, and all those other common puppy plights. The chapters are broken into time frames, like when you first get the dog, called "The Puppymoon" and then three to five months, "Days of Wine and Noses."

The Pawprints of HistoryThe Pawprints of History
by Stanley Coren

Coren is psychology professor at the University of British Columbia and a top-selling author, despite what his colleagues may think. The general public loved his book, "The Intelligence of Dogs," though he was severely criticized by his colleagues for his formulaic quotient to determine dog smarts. He followed with "Why We Love the Dogs We Do" and "How to Speak Dog," both fascinating reads about the canine mind.

This book is a fascinating glimpse into a history that you've not likely heard about before. He features stories of legendary characters and their dogs. Examples include how Florence Nightingale's life was saved by a chance encounter with a mutt and how Napoleon Bonaparte's revolving dogs impacted his life. It's astounding how Coren learned about these captivating stories - like how one "tall dog" went down with General Custer at Little Big Horn.

Emergeny Animal Rescue StoriesEmergency Animal Rescue Stories: One Woman's Dedication to Saving Animals from Disasters
by Terri Crisp

Natural disasters don't only displace people, Crisp has personally rescued pets from fire, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes - and she writes about those adventures. The good news is that most her tales have happy endings.


Canine EpilepsyCanine Epilepsy: An Owner's Guide to Living With and Without Seizures
by Caroline Levin

This book is a must-have resource if your dog suffers seizures. Levin begins by describing the science of how the thunderstorm in the brain happens that we call seizures. She details both traditional and alternative medication choices. Also, she writes about how to react when your pooch is suffering a seizure. Most important, because it's so rarely written about, are the potential psychological stresses that might prompt seizures in some dogs.

When Your Pet Outlives You When Your Pet Outlives You: Protecting Animal Companions After You Die
by David Congalton and Charlotte Alexander

Congalton, who is a radio talk show host and Alexander, president of the North County Humane Society in Atascadero, CA, one returned home from a party to find their house on fire, and their three cats and two dogs dead. Congalton's last book, "Three Cats, Two Dogs, One Journey Through Multiple Pet Loss," was hardly cheery, but it won the 2001 Merial Human-Animal Bond Award for Best Writing from the Dog Writers Association of America.

This book is hardly a jolly read. Still, it's a subject that's important. The authors write about two pet writing friends who were killed in an auto accident, but provisions were never made for the pets. Their already overwhelmed families were caught off guard. Don't let that happen to you. They explain in easy to follow detail how to legally protect your pets. And describe how some have done just that, including singer Dusty Springfield. According to the provisions in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame singer's will, her cat Nicholas is now comforted each night on a bed lined with her nightgown, while her music plays on the stereo.

Kid's Corner

Lucky Boy Lucky Boy
written and illustrated by Susan Boase

This first time author writes a sweet story. It features the Gustin's, who were not bad people, just a busy family. They simply had no time for their dog, Boy. Just like people, dogs can get bored, and lonely. But every dog has its day - and then one day Boy began to make a difference.