3 great gifts for pet parents

The Hidden Language of Cats

Sarah Brown knows and loves felines: She has a doctorate in the social behavior of neutered domestic cats, and the dedication page of her new book simply reads, “For the cats.”

Those who said “Aww!” at that information will delight in Brown’s The Hidden Language of Cats: How They Have Us at Meow. It’s a fascinating compendium of scientific information about our furry friends’ modes of communication interwoven with interesting anecdotes about Brown’s 30 years of fieldwork (plus her own cats’ hijinks at home).

Brown traces the history of cats’ evolution from solitary wildcats to the creatures who now reside in 45 million households in the U.S. alone. A crucial step in that process: “Cats supplemented their original scent-based language with new signals and sounds, designed for life alongside humans and other cats.” In a more recent development, researchers released data in 2017 about the “Feline Five,” a set of “personality dimensions similar to those of humans” (such as agreeableness and neuroticism) that people can use to better relate to their cats. After all, Brown notes, “Just like people, cats have complex personalities.”

Whimsical line drawings by Brown’s daughter Hettie add to the fun of this informative, accessible guide to what cats are telling us, whether through tail twitches, meows or exceedingly slow blinking.

Fifty Places to Travel With Your Dog Before You Die

For many dog owners, traveling with their pooch in tow is a must, but it’s not always easy to figure out where to go or how to prepare. There are rules of entry to consider, not to mention pet-friendly lodging. If border crossing is involved, vaccines and paperwork come into play too.

Not to worry: Fifty Places to Travel With Your Dog Before You Die: Dog Experts Share the World’s Greatest Destinations was created by Chris Santella and DC Helmuth to demystify the process of traveling with dogs and “provide a road map and inspirational guide for those who would take Fido along wherever they go.”

The duo turned to seasoned “dog travelers” to help them compile a list of superlative spots in the U.S. and abroad. Fittingly, it begins with Anchorage, Alaska, home to the Iditarod and Yukon Quest dog races. Those who seek a slower pace may want to relax in Palm Springs, California, or visit wineries in the Margaret River region of Australia. Hiking in Yosemite National Park could be fun, or perhaps a trip to Venice, Italy, where “dogs are typically welcome on gondola rides.”

Gorgeous color photos of people and their pets accompany each detail-packed entry in this practical and aspirational world tour for dog owners.

For the Love of Dog

In the introduction to her edifying and entertaining For the Love of Dog: The Ultimate Relationship Guide, author Pilley Bianchi notes that “The New York Times alone has published almost two hundred thousand articles on dogs and is currently averaging a new one every other day.” Many were about “a member of my family . . . a world-famous dog” named Chaser.

In 2011, Bianchi’s father, Dr. John W. Pilley, and their border collie Chaser went viral for their work together, particularly with regards to Chaser’s 1,022-word vocabulary and the revelation that “dogs are not only smarter than they have been given credit for, but capable of so much more.”

Bianchi, who refers to herself as “Chaser’s coteacher, producer, roommate, and water girl,” partnered with U.K.-based illustrator Calum Heath to honor her late father and their dog while showing readers how to tap into their own dogs’ special capabilities—for learning, for fun and for love.

In service of that goal, she shares a history and philosophy of dogs that name-checks Odysseus and Descartes; deeply ponders the values of play and praise; and cautions against making assumptions about breeds, which “can often lead us to miss the individual nature of a dog.” Heath’s illustrations frolic across the pages, adding humor and beauty to this eclectic, heartfelt tribute to the dogs we love.


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