Category Archives: books

The Dalai Lama’s Cat

This book can best be described as charming, fun to read, and even a bit enlightening! Told through the perceptive of one very lucky cat, we get a glimpse on what it might be like to live inside the home of the Dali Lama.

‘Oh! How adorable! I didn’t know you had a cat!’ she exclaimed. I am always surprised how many people make this observation. Why should His Holiness not have a cat? ‘If only she could speak,’ continued the actress. ‘I’m sure she’d have such wisdom to share.’ And so the seed was planted . . .

I began to think that perhaps the time had come for me to write a book of my own—a book that would convey some of the wisdom I’ve learned sitting not at the feet of the Dalai Lama but even closer, on his lap. A book that would tell my own tale … how I was rescued from a fate too grisly to contemplate to become the constant companion of a man who is not only one of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate but also a dab hand with a can opener.”

A fun and easy read, it will draw you in with it’s warmth and humor. I loved the lessons that each chapter taught, subtly yes, but there none the less.

From her rescue story to her meetings with dignitaries, this little kitty knows how to tell a tale! I found myself wishing it were all true, as I was falling more in love with this sweet cat. Within her story are many founding principles of Buddhism, told in such a way that anyone could easily relate to them. It’s the type of story where you can glean wisdom and be entertained at the same time. It is also a story I am sure to enjoy reading again.

Find The Dalai Lama’s Cat on Amazon or anywhere fine books are sold.

Thank you to Hay House for providing me with a copy free in exchange for my reviewing it.

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Dogs with Old Man Faces

Dogs with Old Man Faces: Portraits of Crotchety Canines is a delightful little book full of photos of dogs with, you guessed it, old man faces.

Each old dog also has funny captions on the page next to them, such as; “Pedro likes Old Spice and Sinatra,” “Jack enjoys a hot cup of Sanka,” and “Chet is still upset they cancelled Matlock.”

We loved this fun tribute to senior dogs, who still have what it takes to make us smile!

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Chaser, the dog that knows 1000 words! #Chaser1000

Chaser Most dog lovers will tell you that their dog is smart. In fact, it’s something that dog owners have known for some time, that dogs do indeed know what we are saying. Sometimes, they might even know too much! Just try tricking your pup into going to the vet or getting a bath!

Well, a dog named Chaser and her beloved owner “Pop-pop” are challenging what science thinks about dogs and language with a vocabulary of 1000 words!

In the book, Chaser : Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words, we follow the progress of a border collie as she learns the names of various toys. But this is more than just learning the names of the toys! To show true understanding of language, she must also learn the words needed to interact with the toys, she must show that she also understands common nouns.

The story of Chaser actually begins with Yasha, the faithful companion of John Pilley, emeritus professor of psychology at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Yasha paved the way for what would later happen with Chaser, as Yasha often would take part in many classroom behavioral experiments. Yasha also had the run of the university, and even had his own ID card! After Yasha’s passing, John experienced what many dog lovers do, that moment when you think you will never have another dog again because losing them is just so painful. Luckily, John’s wife Sally knew better, and gave John a very special Christmas gift.

Noticing right away that Chaser was a bright dog, John set out to determine how best to tap into her intellect. Using play and positive reinforcements rather than relying on treats or punishment, he started training her to recognize items by name, and by group.

The book is a very interesting read. I found myself getting pulled in from the start, both as an animal lover and one who had once thought about going into psychology. Reading about how Chaser was being taught, and what it could mean if John could indeed show that Chaser was learning language, made this a very fun book. Would Chaser prove that animals, especially dogs, do know and learn language and understand what we are saying more than we give them credit for? Would the scientific world believe the research if it did show this?

Well, you will just have to read the book to find out! The story is engaging because you can tell that not only does John love the research, but he really loves dogs as well. John and co-researcher Dr. Alliston Reid later published their findings in the journal Behavioural Processes, and you may have even heard of Chaser thanks to some media coverage too.

To purchase the book and learn more about this amazing dog, be sure to visit Chaser’s website. The book will be released on October 29, 2013 and join our #BlogPawsChat on October 22nd for a chance to win a free book and toy! And be sure to follow Chaser on Twitter, and like the Chaser Facebook Page. Oh, and the book has a list of all the words Chaser knows too! Quiet impressive. 4 paws way up!

I have been compensated for my review of this book. Thanks to BlogPaws network for providing the book for this campaign. As always, my opinions are my own.

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Welcome Home Mama & Boris: How a Sister’s Love Saved a Fallen Soldiers Beloved Dogs

WH_MamaBoris_cover.inddIf you are looking for a heartwarming, uplifting story, then you really need to add Welcome Home Mama and Boris: How a Sister’s Love Saved a Fallen Soldier’s Beloved Dogs to your reading list. What a lovely story, with such a great message. Here is just a little taste of what you will find inside the book. Two big thumbs (and four small paws) way up! Be sure to pick up a copy (and some tissues too)!

Pets In Iraq – Excerpt from Mama & Boris
By Carey Neesley with Michael Levin,
Author of Welcome Home Mama & Boris: How a Sister’s Love Saved a Fallen Soldier’s Beloved Dogs

Growing up, we always had animals. Starting with Casey and Arrow, our keepers in the woods, our family would keep cats and dogs. We both loved them, but it was Peter who seemed to communicate with the animals on a deeper level than anyone else we knew. He was drawn to their innocence, and their pure emotions. Arrow, the rusty-colored springer spaniel, was Peter’s favorite—he even had a stuffed dog named Arrow, for when he couldn’t convince the real creature to climb under the covers with him for a suffocating squeeze or two. So when Peter calls and excitedly tells us stories about a small pack of five dogs that has started coming around the base—a mother and her four pups—I laugh and think, of course he has pets in Iraq.

Peter says that one day, he noticed a rustling just outside the walls of the base—a castle that used to belong to Saddam Hussein overlooking the muddy Tigris River. When he went outside to investigate, he saw a dusty troupe of mottled, almost camouflaged, puppies rolling in the sand, all presided over by a serious, sleek, dark presence—their mother. The Army doesn’t allow soldiers to keep animals on the base, Peter explains, and he knew that it was dangerous for them to be spotted so near to the walls, as often stray animals will be ordered to be put down if they are found to be engaging with soldiers. I know that Peter would give his life for the Army, but that loyalty isn’t going to be strong enough for him to obey this particular rule. I can hear it in his voice.

“What are you going to do?” I ask, worried about Peter getting in trouble just as much as the animals.

“I don’t know,” he says. “I’ll figure something out. I couldn’t really get close to them, so I’ll have to see if they’re there again tomorrow. I’m going to go check as soon as I get a chance.”

When Peter went back the next day, the animals were nowhere to be found. It wasn’t until he was out on patrol again that he saw them, farther away from the base this time and playing near a road. After a couple more sightings, he says, he figured out this was where they were spending most of their time. He spends a good two weeks feeding the mother dog, trying to gain her trust. Each time, he says, she comes a little closer, trusting him a little more. Meanwhile, the puppies look on from a safe distance—she always stands between them and Peter, making sure that they aren’t going to get into any trouble. She looks nothing like them save for the flop of her ears, Peter says, but she must be their mother. Her maternal instinct is in overdrive.

One day, Peter e-mails us a few photos of the dogs, and we can see that he’s gained the trust of the mother and is able to sit in the pack while they play around him. Finally, he has made contact. In the pictures, he is smiling while he ruffles the hair of the mother, whom he calls Mama, and the four puppies, who nip at his hands, the dust flying around them as they whip around the camera frame. They’re like little balls of fur and energy, and he looks so happy to be in the midst of them. Peter reports that he goes back every day to their spot to play with them, feed them spare scraps from his pre-packaged ready-to-eat meals (MREs) or from the mess, when he can sneak some out, and keep them company.

Much like his calls when he first started befriending and helping the local children, it’s clear that Peter has a new mission within his mission: He wants to help these dogs. He hasn’t seen anyone around who could be their owner, and a war zone is not the safest or most welcoming place for our four-legged friends, he says. The people there have other things—life?and?death things—on their minds, and rescuing animals just isn’t a priority. That’s why he needs us to help him by sending him dog food, chew bones, toys, anything that we could find that we’d be able to send over for the dogs.

Once again, I head off to the store for supplies. Patrick is my little helper, grabbing toys and treats off the shelves and flinging them into our cart. I have to remind him that we can’t ship everything to Iraq; there’s only so much our boxes will hold. We both feel that even though we’ve never met these dogs, they’re ours, too; an extension of our family, someone to keep Peter smiling.

Peter sends us pictures of the dogs playing with our toys, and it’s a great feeling. It’s the first time they’ve seen anything like what we take for granted for our pets over here. They eye the brightly colored chew toys like we’d look at gold bars, and I envy how happy they look, how carefree.

Soon, Peter tells us that he can’t find two of the puppies. They’ve wandered off, or worse. My heart sinks, and I hope against hope that they’ve just found another friendly person to sit with for now, but I know that’s unlikely. I don’t tell Patrick about my fears, not wanting to burden him with any more sadness. He has already started to come home from school with poems he’s written about the costs of war—how it scares him, how it makes him sad. Peter’s news about the pups continues to grow darker, shadowed by a cruel reality. One day, he sees one of the pups run into the road and get hit by a car, dying immediately right in front of him. It’s then that he decides the spot where they’ve been hanging out is an unsafe location, and he’s determined to make a better place for Mama and the remaining puppy to stay.

He sends us another picture of himself, this time proudly kneeling beside a small doghouse he and some of his friends have built outside the walls of the base. They’ve painted it in the colors of their unit, and dragged some old bedding inside to make it comfortable. It’s small compared to the looming castle in the background, but to the dogs, it’s like a castle of their own. He carries Mama and her puppy to the new home, and places them inside, feeding them treats that we’ve sent to make sure they know this is their new safe place. During the day, they might wander off, but he is pleased to find that they always return.

He sends us another picture of the puppy, a close up, where he’s cradling him in his hands. Peter’s eyes are clear, happy, and peaceful, looking straight at the camera. The mischievous puppy is in the bottom of the frame, looking like he’s about to wriggle off and get into some trouble. Peter says that he’s named the puppy Boris, after one of his friends, a fallen soldier. He doesn’t say anything more about that.

The above is an excerpt from the book Welcome Home Mama & Boris: How a Sister’s Love Saved a Fallen Soldier’s Beloved Dogs by Carey Neesley with Michael Levin. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Copyright © 2013 Carey Neesley with Michael Levin, author of Welcome Home Mama & Boris: How a Sister’s Love Saved a Fallen Soldier’s Beloved Dogs

Authors Bios
Carey Neesley is a hospice social worker with an M.S.W. from Wayne State University. She lives in Michigan with her son, Patrick.

Michael Levin is a New York Times bestselling author. He lives with his wife and four children in Orange County, CA.

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