Connie’s Book Club - Summer 2013

Connie's Book Club

Connie's Book Club

The Secret of Happy Ever After

By Lucy Dillon

(Penguin, 2013) Pack this one in your beach bag! In The Secret to Happy Ever After, bestselling author Lucy Dillon gives a perceptive and honest portrayal about the many life, love, and career struggles women experience. This heartwarming story of romance and friendship begins when Michelle, a gifted saleswoman with a head for business, moves to Longhampton, a middle of nowhere English market town, in order to distance herself from an ex with a knack for ever-so-subtly making her feel terrible about herself. There she impulsively acquires a neglected old bookstore, enlisting her new and only friend in the area, Anna, to manage the store. The two women have more in common than evident at first glance; both are running from emotional pain, Michelle from a broken relationship, and Anna from her three demanding stepchildren and an adorable but unruly Dalmatian, Pongo. The friends find solace from their problems in the bookstore, immersing themselves in classic tales of romance and adventure, as well as in the finding of lost dogs. But when secrets from Michelle’s past threaten her new start and Anna’s dream of having a baby start to fall apart, can the power of a small bookstore be enough to help them find their happily ever after?—AT

Train Your Dog Positively

By Victoria Stilwell

(Ten Speed Press, 2013) Two thumbs up for Victoria Stilwell’s new book, Train Your Dog Positively. In it Stilwell, one of the world’s most recognized and respected dog trainers and host of Animal Planet’s TV series It’s Me or the Dog, shows us how we can use scientifically proven, force-free, positive reinforcement to change the way our dogs think, feel, and learn, encouraging them to want to behave. Alpha-based, negative reinforcement methods, such as physical punishment (think leash yanking, or making a dog submit by rolling him on his back), are psychologically damaging for the dog and have potentially dangerous consequences for owners. Today’s most effective dog training theories confirm that reinforcing good behaviour with rewards (praise, food, or toys) while using constructive discipline (like time-outs or vocal sounds) is not only a more successful training tool but also a more humane way of communicating with canine companions. Even the most difficult dogs can be rehabilitated using these gentle methods. Stilwell’s tips, tricks, and advice for understanding canine language, harnessing the power of reward-based training, and tapping into dogs’ natural instincts will demonstrate there are no hopeless cases. Train Your Dog Positively tackles: jumping up; running away; mouthing and chewing; excessive barking; leash pulling; stealing; food guarding; compulsive pacing or licking; poop eating; aggression; submissive urination; scent marking; separation anxiety; thunderstorm phobia—and more—providing not only a teaching handbook but a set of guiding principles to enrich your relationship with your dog, building trust and a lasting foundation for a happy, confident, and well-behaved dog.—CW

My Animal, My Self: A Breakthrough Way to Understand How You and Your Animal Reflect Each Other

By Marta Williams

(New World Library, 2013) Marta Williams, a biologist and animal communicator who travels the world teaching people how to communicate with animals and commune with nature, has established herself as the go-to expert on animal communication. Her previous books, Learning Their Language, Beyond Words, and Ask Your Animals, have earned her a devoted following. In her latest offering, My Animal, My Self, Williams applies years of research to explain how animals can mirror the people they live with on a physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual level—and that the dynamic can be either positive or negative. For instance, she offers examples of animals taking on the serious illnesses or dysfunctional behaviours of their humans in an effort to help them. Williams also explains that, in other instances, an animal and person are so connected that the animal can’t avoid having similar experiences, noting, however, that it is important to distinguish between behaviour that rests purely with the animal and those that result from mirroring. Interesting stuff for anyone that shares a close bond with his or her dog. In addition to examining the process and whys of mirroring, My Animal, My Self presents practical, hands-on tools for assessing mirroring between you and your companion animals and presents fascinating success stories of how clients and experts have used the book’s exercises to better understand their animals and tackle inappropriate behaviours. A must read.—CW

A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life From an Unlikely Teacher

By Sue Halpern

(Penguin, 2013) Journalist Halpern has created a terrific, bighearted book that anyone interested in the human-dog bond cannot fail to be delighted by. A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home is her moving account of her efforts to turn her energetic, adolescent, leash-rebellious country dog, Pransky, into an obedient and calm therapy aid. An accomplished author, Halpern puts to use her varied life experiences, from working in prisons and hospitals to completing her doctorate at Oxford, to beautifully describe and reflect upon the duos experiences as a therapy dog team in a public nursing home. Pransky turns out to excel in this environment and opens Halpern to new experiences and a world of compassion, warmth, and humour. Honest and touching, this book illuminates the lessons owners and dogs teach each other, as well as the transformative nature of acts of kindness—and not just for the recipient. Thoughtful, inspiring, and often joyous, A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home is, at heart, about nothing less than what it is to be human, hopefully with a good dog by your side.—AT

Compawssion

By Frank Bruynbroek

(Self-published, 2013) A wonderful collection of black and white portraits of rescued dogs by photographer Frank Bruynbroek, Compawssion captures the beauty and resilience that is a shelter dog. Featuring stories from canine-loving celebs such as Ellen DeGeneres, Katherine Heigl, Kim Basinger, and Jackie Chan, this artistic compilation of grateful furry faces reminds us of the plight of the homeless dog and the difference a compassionate human can make.

Dog of the Week!

Meet: Rizzo