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Book Review: Just Life

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction by Jacki Skole0 Comments

When I read a New York Times story about a New York City neighborhood grappling with a rare animal-borne disease that killed one resident and left at least two others seriously ill, it was, for me, a tragic case of life imitating art. You see, I’d recently finished Neil Abramson’s Just Life, a fast-paced fictional tale in which a mysterious and deadly zoonotic disease is spreading through a neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In the Times’ story, medical officials concluded the disease—leptospirosis—was being spread by rats. In the novel, Abramson challenges readers by asking this: What if an animal-borne …

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Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell

In Animal Behavior, Book Reviews, Nonfiction by Jacki Skole0 Comments

No matter how quietly I screw off the cap on a jar of peanut butter, within seconds of its opening, I will feel my dog’s dark brown eyes drilling into me. I’m here, those eyes say. And I’m waiting. Waiting, that is, for a spoonful of her favorite treat. If dogs can sniff out bombs and bedbugs, cancer and orca poop (more on that in a moment), I shouldn’t be surprised that Galen can sniff out peanut butter. And now, having just completed Alexandra Horowitz’s newest exploration of doghood, Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell, …

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Book Review: The Dog Merchants

In Book Reviews, Nonfiction by Jacki Skole0 Comments

Most dog lovers consider their canines loyal companions, best friends, or beloved family members. (Count me in that last category.) The American legal system considers them property. Journalist Kim Kavin, in her new book, The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescuers, suggests that we view dogs in a more provocative way—as products, not unlike the chicken and steak, veal and pork, that line “that big case of meat in the supermarket.” After all, she tells readers, some thirty million dogs are bought and sold each year, in what is estimated to be an $11 billion-a-year …

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Book Review: Landfill Dogs

In Book Reviews by Jacki Skole1 Comment

In Landfill Dogs, photographer Shannon Johnstone pays homage to shelter dogs with images that capture their indelible spirit, but also the tenuousness of their existence. Johnstone awoke to the twin issues of shelter overpopulation and euthanasia several years ago when she began volunteering at her local animal shelter, North Carolina’s Wake County Animal Center. The shelter is open admission. It gets overcrowded. And like many overcrowded shelters throughout the country, it sometimes euthanizes for space. It’s a situation, she writes, that so many of us “know exists but try not to think about.” Challenging herself to “make visual this hidden …

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Do Unto Animals: A Guide to Raising a More Compassionate Family

In Animal Behavior, Animal Rights, Birds, Book Reviews, Children's Books, Conservation, Endangered Species, Insects, Nonfiction, Veganism by John Yunker0 Comments

I grew up around cats, so it always struck me as odd when people didn’t understand what a cat’s purr signified. Then again, I did not grow up around cows or goats or sheep and don’t understand their behaviors. You have to learn how to live among animals. How to read the languages they speak through their body language and the noises they make. And since not all of us were raised in households with pets or by outdoorsy parents, how do we learn how to peacefully coexist with animals when we don’t have much practice? This book provides a great start. What I …

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Book Review: The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Fiction by Shel Graves0 Comments

No one gives animals a voice like author Richard Adams. While most may be familiar with his novel Watership Down (1972) from childhood, readers of EcoLit may especially appreciate The Plague Dogs (1977). Adams credits Victims of Science: The Use of Animals in Research (1975) by Richard Ryder and Animal Liberation (1975) by Peter Singer as influences for this book, which tells the story of two dogs’ escape from an animal research station in North West England. The omniscient narration allows Adams to delve into numerous perspectives most notably the dogs: Rowf, a loyal eager-to-please Labrador to the core, and …

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Book Review: Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals by Rory Freedman

In Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Climate Change, Nonfiction, Veganism by Midge Raymond1 Comment

Rory Freedman’s new book, Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals, is a must-read for anyone who believes himself or herself to be an animal lover. The main idea behind this book is that many people who think they love animals in fact unknowingly participate in any number of things that do animals great harm — and this idea is indeed “radical” to people who love their dogs but eat pigs (who are just as intelligent) or love their cats but wear leather, and so on. Yet this book is not at all preachy; Freedman uses the same warmth …