Reading is a year-round activity, but summer is an extra-special reading time, with lazy family vacations and extended periods of daylight making it seem as if we have more time. And who better to read about than our best friends: dogs and cats. Whether your vacation reading leans toward mystery, history, photography or nonfiction, we’ve rounded up some new favorites that will have you turning the pages with fervor.
▪ Two cats, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker the corgi are your guides to life in Crozet, Va., where they live with too-curious farmer Mary Minor Haristeen. In “Tail Gait,” the latest installment of the Mrs. Murphy mysteries written by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown, past and present blend to tell the tale of a Revolutionary War-era mystery and a modern-day murder, with Mary Minor and her pets in the thick of things. A perfect cozy read for a beach or mountain getaway.
▪ Judy was an English pointer, the mascot of a Royal Navy gunboat in the Pacific as the world geared up for World War II in 1939. Frank Williams was a POW in a Japanese internment camp on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where the two met and became best friends. Robert Weintraub’s “No Better Friend” is the story of their friendship and survival through battle, captivity, starvation and shipwreck. Readers and reviewers call it spellbinding, gripping and heartwarming.
▪ You’ve come a long way, kitty! That’s the message in Arden Moore’s “Fit Cat: Tips and Tricks to Give Your Pet a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life.” In chapters on health, nutrition, grooming, behavior and more, Moore shares top cat tips on coping with cat burglars, teaching tricks and building a cat habitat, to name just a few of the areas covered. One tip from the book: Treat your cat to a hit of catnip just before bedtime to induce a case of the zoomies and wear him out so you’ll both sleep soundly.
▪ Teaching tricks to your dog (young or old) is a fun way to spend some time this summer. In the recently released “Idiot’s Guides: Dog Tricks,” mother-daughter team Deb Eldredge, D.V.M., and Kate Eldredge show step by step how to teach your dog more than 80 basic and advanced tricks and skills, including the fun – playing basketball – and the useful – putting away his toys. They explain how to use rewards, cues and body language to communicate with your dog, and color photos illustrate each step. Dr. Eldredge’s dog Doc demonstrates basketball and putting down the toilet seat. “I think it is admirable that a male dog learned to put the seat down,” she says.
▪ Canine Instagram star Momo and his chronicler and best buddy, Andrew Knapp, take to the road in “Find Momo Coast to Coast.” The border collie and his photographer visit landmarks and attractions such as Grand Central Station, the White House and the French Quarter in New Orleans on their 15,000-mile journey through the United States and Canada. Part game, part photography book, it will test not only your geographic knowledge, but also your ability to find the black-and-white dog hiding in each photo.
▪ Do you miss the Zen of coloring? Pull out your crayons, watercolor pencils, markers or gel pens and take a trip back in time to the pleasure of coloring books with “Cool Cats” from the Really COOL Colouring series or “Creative Cats Coloring Book” from the Creative Haven series. Don’t be surprised to feel stress melt away as you let your creativity run wild. Bonus: No one cares if you color outside the lines.
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton, author of many pet-care books. The two are affiliated with Vetstreet.com. Dr. Becker can also be found at facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker.