Tag Archives: dogs

February Has Gone to the Dogs

A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his.

-John Grogan

I am, for the next two weeks, the caretaker of my furry nephew, all 130 some pounds of him. Did I mention that he is only 7 months old?  Being from a family who love dogs, it’s nice to have an animal in the house again, and to be greeted with a wagging tail when I come home. We had to put our family dog to sleep many years ago, yet I still catch myself thinking of her and missing her every once in a while. Animals can do that to you, especially dogs. What other animal can put a smile on your face (even if you had a terrible day at work), can be so excited to see you return home every day and can help brighten those cold winter months? It is called Februweary for a reason. While the month is drawing to a close, and spring is just on the horizon, I thought in this blog post I would offer up some animal-loving happiness to hopefully put a smile on your face, a bounce in your step, and perhaps a tear in your eye as animal stories often do (Where the Red Fern Grows had me blubbering like a baby, but in a cathartic way). Enjoy!

 marley  Marley and Me by John Grogan

Anyone who has ever had a pet all know they misbehave at some point, but Marley the dog just happens to do so more than other animals. Marley is labeled as the world’s worst dog by his owners, and from these stories I can understand why. However, despite his destructive behaviour they love him just the same and the love he has for them all makes this story truly beautiful and heartwarming (and tear-inducing). I’m sure many of us can attest to misbehaving animals, for what dog doesn’t have their issues, yet they are loved by their family despite their quirks (our dog had plenty, including the time she ate my hemp necklace). The film is just as good!

Training People: how to bring out the best in your human by Tess of Helena

Let’s face it; we humans need plenty of training when it comes to having a dog, and who better to offer this insight than Tess of Helena. Tess of Helena, I should note, is a Labrador retriever, and has written this informative book with the help of Brian Kahn, for dogs looking for a human companion. Tess helps dogs understand training and what is expected of them (strange as it may be), and how to navigate the world of humans and the odd things they do (though men are often stronger than women they can still easily be tripped up with the leash). Funny and insightful, this book will have dog owners nodding their heads at the strange things their pet does. The Dogma of Rufus: A canine guide to eating, sleeping, digging, slobbering, scratching, and surviving with humans a book written by Rufus, an old dog, offers similar advice, such as informing dogs that human beds are much more comfier than dog beds, therefore even if your owner tells you not to climb on the bed with them you just have to wait until they are asleep.

 art The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Told entirely from the perspective of Enzo the dog, “a philosopher with a nearly human soul”, the book follows Enzo as he looks back on his life with his owner, a race car driver. Through his flashbacks we understand what it means to be human and the special bond dogs and humans have, a perspective which only a dog can possess.


Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis

Alexis’ novel was the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, the winner of 2017’s Canada Reads and bears an interesting premise: Gods Hermes and Apollo gift dogs at an animal clinic with human reasoning and language, naturally the dogs escape the clinic and set up their own society in Toronto’s Hyde Park. How will the dogs react to their new knowledge and abilities, will some change and become more “human” and “corrupt”, or will some still retain the undeniable exuberance which dogs seem to naturally emit? A mixture of Greek mythology with a modern-day twist Alexis’ novel will certainly have people pondering the bet the gods make, “would animals be happier with human reasoning and language?”

 dog A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

This book was recently made into a film (and filmed around Winnipeg!). It follows a dog who is reincarnated over and over again, sometimes he has excellent owners, other times he is abused and neglected yet he continually searches for his purpose and remembers the love he felt from his owner Ethan. It is a beautiful, funny and touching story, and if you enjoy this one Cameron has written a sequel titled A Dog’s Journey focusing on another dog Buddy finding his/her purpose.

The library offers plenty of insightful dog books for those wishing to learn more about particular breeds, tips on training, on purchasing your dog or true heartwarming stories of dogs that battled the odds and their special bonds with humans; you can find them all in our 636.7 section.




This summer, the Library is challenging you to expand your reading horizons! Hunt down titles to meet the challenge of your choice, chat with staff for help, browse our displays, or check out the picks below.

For every week you try something new, enter our prize draws at any WPL branch!

Week 6 (our LAST week) is Grab Bag Week, so who knows what you’ll end up trying:

  • Challenge 16: A book with a year in the title
  • Challenge 17: A book starring a dog or cat
  • Challenge 18: A book with ‘Secret’ in the title

*All of the picks below can be requested for pickup at your closest branch! Search and place holds with our catalog.

Staff picks for Challenge 16: A book with a year in the title

1776 by David McCullough

The intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence.

1215: The Year of the Magna Carta by Danny Danzinger and John Gillingham

An absorbing portrait of life during a time of global upheaval, at the center of which is the document that has become the root of modern freedom: the Magna Carta.

1491-cover1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C Mann

A work of science, history, and archaeology that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus.

1984 by George Orwell

The great modern classic of a “negative utopia,” a haunting novel of a completely convincing imaginary world.

1920: The Year of the Six Presidents by David Pietrusza

The presidential election of 1920, when six once-and-future presidents hoped to end up in the White House: Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and Theodore Roosevelt.

1942 by Robert Conroy

An alternate history that reimagines December 7, 1941 as a fictional Japanese invasion of Hawaii and the subsequent tale of resistance, sacrifice, and courage.

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

The classic science fiction novel that changed the way people looked at the stars–and themselves.

Staff picks for Challenge 17: A book starring a dog or cat


Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

A DOG’S PURPOSE by W. Bruce Cameron

One endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. Touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here?

FIFTEEN DOGS by Andre Alexis

Gods Apollo and Hermes grant human intelligence and consciousness to fifteen dogs who wrestle with the challenges that arise as the result of their elevated thinking.

GRUMPY CAT: A Grumpy Book by Grumpy Cat

Celebrating the Internet sensation’s epic feline frown, and the grouch in everyone, with new photos, grump-inspiring activities and games.

catsI COULD PEE ON THIS, AND OTHER POEMS BY CATS by Francesco Marciuliano

A collection of humorous poems delves into the cat psyche, covering such topics as separation anxiety, scratching at closed doors, and trips to the veterinarian.


Cat comics, facts and instructional guides from the creative wonderland at TheOatmeal.com.

WE3 by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely

A genetically-altered dog, cat, and rabbit turned into military killing machines have escaped and are desperate to survive with the U.S. army on their trail. Complex, violent, and emotional content–The Incredible Journey for mature readers.

Staff picks for Challenge 18: A book with ‘Secret’ in the title

IN THE PRESIDENT’S SECRET SERVICE: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect by Ronald Kessler

The experiences of Secret Service agents who served during the administrations of such presidents as JFK, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? by Sophie Kinsella

Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets. Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world. Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane.


Sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses a shocking murder that throughout the subsequent half century shapes her beliefs, her acting career, and the lives of three strangers from vastly different backgrounds.


When Siddi inadvertently reveals too much about her Southern childhood in a newspaper interview, her mother, Vivi, virtually disowns her. Vivi’s lifelong friends, the Ya-Ya’s, set in motion a plan to bring the mother and daughter back together.

secrets-of-eden-hires.jpgSECRETS OF EDEN by Chris Bohjalian

Haunted by the final words of a newly baptized congregation member who was subsequently murdered by her husband, the Reverend Stephen Drew abandons his pulpit to spend time with an author who writes best-selling books about angels.

THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The gardens surrounding her forlorn new home are Mary’s only escape. When she discovers a hidden, locked door, two unexpected companions help her find a way in. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?

So that concludes our Summer Reading Challenge. Make sure you get your ballots in! The prize draw will be held on August 22.

It’s a Dog’s Life

Nothing lifts my spirits or gives me a better laugh than watching comical videos many dog owners post on the Internet. Whether it is some sort of trick, or a funny scenario, it never ceases to amaze me how incredibly intelligent and receptive our four legged friends are – particularly when a reward of some sort is involved. The videos often showcase the bond between a dog and their master, invariably featuring a wagging tail paired with laughter and enjoyment on the part of the teacher.

Entertainment that includes trained dogs has long been part of popular culture. Many of us grew up watching various movies and TV shows that highlighted dogs in various familial situations. For example, in the 1950’s there was Lassie and Old Yeller and later on Beethoven, Benji, Eddie from Frasier, and Marley from Marley and me. However, my first real exposure to the truly strange things people will teach their pets was the “stupid pet tricks” segment on the David Letterman show. People from across North America brought their pets on stage to perform for the viewing audience. The sillier the trick, the more it evoked laughter and amazement (and sometimes a cringe worthy reaction).

Yes, without question the lengths that people will go to have their pets emulate human behaviour(s) is quite inspiring. Case in point is this recent video on CNN narrated by the very deadpan Jeanne Moore,featuring a dog eating peanut butter with a spoon.

While hilarious, I selfishly tend to lean towards the more practical. Sometimes before I leave the house for work and the place is clearly upside down, I look over at our dog with envy. Most days he lies contently, bathing in the light streaming from the kitchen window. While I don’t begrudge his pleasures and tranquillity  I must admit the thought has crossed my mind – what if our Rocky could help out with some light housework while we are at work?  Life would be so much simpler. After all, many dog breeds have served and continue to serve important functions ranging from working in an agricultural context to assisting the visually impaired as well as police and rescue. Check out Jessie’s remarkable housekeeping prowess to see that anything is possible!

More realistically, we have recently upped the ante by attempting to graduate our dog from simple sitting and fetching to learning how to smile and even crawl. Unfortunately, no amount of treats or encouragement has interested him in becoming more adept at these behaviours, and if nothing else, we have come to understand that many hours of training is required for what looks like the simplest of tasks.  Of note are the variety of training resources that employ assorted techniques and strategies based on different schools of thought that are available at Winnipeg Public Library.  These include:

training 7Cesar Millan’s short guide to a happy dog [sound recording] : [98 essential tips and techniques]  by Cesar Millan.
Uses Cesar Millan’s unique insights about dog psychology to create stronger, happier relationships between humans and their canine companions. Both inspirational and practical, A Short Guide to a Happy Dog draws on thousands of training encounters around the world to present ninety-eight essential lessons.

TrainTrain your dog positively : understand your dog and solve common behaviour problems including separation anxiety, excessive barking, aggression, housetraining, leash pulling, and more by Victoria Stilwell.
This book offers counselling to dog owners on how to train their pets using positive reinforcement, offering insight into how a dog thinks, feels, and learns to suggest the best approaches to treating behavioural problems.

Training2Training for both ends of the leash : a guide to cooperation training for you and your dog by Kate Perry and Yvonne Conza.
Helps an individual develop the tools and understanding required to be the best trainer for a new puppy or adult dog-it’s never too early or late to start!

Training 3Training the best dog ever : a 5-week program using the power of positive reinforcement by Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Larry Kay.
An award-winning program of positive reinforcement and no-fail techniques, Training the Best Dog Ever takes only 10 to 20 minutes a day; works whether you’re training a puppy or an adult dog, even one with behavior problems; and requires no special dog-handling abilities.

training4Barron’s dog training bible by Andrea Arden
Author Andrea Arden is a well-known trainer who currently works on Animal Planet’s shows, Underdog to Wonderdog, Dogs 101, and Cats 101. She stresses the importance of understanding canine psychology and a dog’s learning capacity as necessary prerequisites to effective and humane training.

training5Clicker training by Katharina Schlegl-Kofler
Clicker training is an animal-friendly positive reinforcement method that really works for training dogs. This manual gives detailed instruction to dog owners, inexperienced pet owners, those planning to acquire their first pet, and older
children looking for pet care information. Each title features
approximately 70 color photos and offers practical advice on purchasing,
housing, feeding, health care–and where applicable, grooming and training

training 6Your dog : the owner’s manual : hundreds of secrets, surprises, and solutions for raising a happy, healthy dog by Marty Becker with Gina Spadafori
Through surprising facts, moving stories and tested solutions, the veterinary expert from Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show will give every dog owner the secrets to raising a healthy,well-behaved dog. For anyone who owns a dog or is thinking about getting one, Dr. Marty Becker’s manual is a must-have guide to anything and everything canine.


Best books on four legs

Now that the snow has all but disappeared, my house is a sea of mud – tracked in by two large dogs and three large sets of rubber boots, and no doubt mixed with a bit of manure to add to the fun. Thus, with my credentials established (you now know that I own both dogs and horses and that housekeeping is almost completely off my radar), I’d like to mention several fantastic books about both species.

If everyone who ever so much as thought of buying a dog were to begin their research with Paws to Consider, the world would be a better place. As dog trainers, Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson have a broad understanding of breed characteristics, styles of owners, and matching them up properly so that everyone will be happy. They don’t have the room to extensively cover every breed in the Kennel Club, but this is a great place to start your research, and they present an unbiased look at the problems you may encounter along the way. If I could only refer to one book for breed research, this would be my top pick, in spite of its limitations (for example, it doesn’t cover the Finnish Lapphund – great breed!). They also coined a great go-to saying for puppy rearing: “You get what you pet”… easy to remember and fundamentally true – behavior that gets rewarded is the behavior your dog will repeat.

Of course, at the library you don’t have to limit yourself to only one book! We have lots of comprehensive books with breed descriptions and matchmaking systems.

I am a huge believer in operant conditioning for both dogs and horses, otherwise known as positive reinforcement. For those who cling to the discredited alpha/dominant theories of animal handling, check out Temple Grandin’s work Animals Make Us Human, or In a Dog’s Heart by Jennifer Arnold, or the classic work by C.W. Meisterfield, Jelly Bean versus Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I challenge anyone to read all three of these books and still believe that it is necessary to “dominate” an animal with physical force. You will discover through these books that wolves actually live in fairly peaceful family groupings, that animals are not at all confused about which species they are, and that our role as humans is to be humane.

For horse lovers, my absolute top pick is Mark Rashid’s Horses Never Lie. I have read and re-read every book of his that I can get my hands on. He puts words to some of my instincts about working with horses, and more than that, he doesn’t promote a “system” of horsemanship, which unfortunately so many other horse trainers have tried to do. When it comes to horse handling, there is literally no replacement for a knowledgeable instructor/mentor. But the concepts behind Rashid’s thinking about working with horses go beyond the hands-on techniques to the truths that lie behind our relationship with these animals. He may lead you to new ways of thinking about horses, or about how and why something worked or didn’t work in your day to day interactions with your horse. I find myself wanting to include my own anecdotes as I read his; to chime in as if we were having a conversation – I know what you mean! I’ve seen this too!

Again, at the library we have many more horse books to explore – from Horse Showing for Kids by Cheryl Kimball to George Morris on show jumping, there’s something for everyone. Happy reading!

…um, by the way, does anyone have any suggestions for books on houses that magically clean themselves?