Excellent, Informative Puppy Tale

Little Boy Blue by Kim Kavin

The subtitle of this book tells heart of tale, but just the tip of the surface: “a puppy’s rescue from death row and his owner’s journey for truth.”

Blue, the adorable mixed breed pup on the cover, stares at the viewer with big brown eyes and a wrinkled forehead, and that alone would be enough to make me pick up the book. And that IS him, not some doggie model. Blue is one of those puppies rescued somewhere in the South, and transported North for adoption. But Kim wasn’t initially told that, that, just saw his photo on the website as a healthy pup available for adoption in Pennsylvania. He was listed as a Lab-Plott Hound, although looking at him, I don’t see any Lab, but plenty of Beagle, maybe some smaller hound, maybe Pittie or Boxer. In his case, his adoptive parent, who fell in love with his photo on the Internet, didn’t really start questioning his beginnings until she brought him to the vet and they noticed small scabs on unknown origin.

Once that was noticed, she started asking questions, and unlike most people, she kept digging when she didn’t get satisfactory answers. Her life as a journalist meant once her interest was piqued, there was no stopping her. While I had heard the “spay and neuter” message hasn’t really gotten across in some parts of the country, and this is why this practice of rescue and transport became prevalent, there is so much more to the story we do not hear about. And what I really like is that Ms. Kavin presents a clear and pretty unbiased tale. She interviews the Animal Control officer for the place in North Carolina Blue was rescued from initially, and surprisingly, he does not come across as evil personified, but as a man doing a difficult, often heartbreaking and thankless job. And some of the people she meets that were involved in Blue’s rescue and transport are also not purely angelic, either. Just as there are many shades of brown in Blue’s handsome brindle coat, there are many shades of grey in the whole system, and very little is black and white, or cut and dried.

From the horrors of gas chamber euthanisation, to the hard situations some rescuers end up in, to the whole system that has grown up involving websites, local people on the ground, on the roads, and even in the air, veterinarians and shelter workers, dog lovers and irresponsible dog owners and breeders, this book tells the whole story, in more depth and detail than I have encountered anywhere else. The author comes across as a caring human being, caught up in a story deeper than she ever expected. And we, the readers, benefit from her pure journalistic efforts, and dogged (pun intended) determination to find the whole truth.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone who loves dogs or even is just curious about what goes on around the country in terms of animal welfare. Dealing with pet overpopulation, irresponsible or ignorant dog owners, and the promise of the adoption networks and rescue groups that have sprung into existence with the advent of the new Internet age makes for fascinating reading. And I also love that right on the cover is a little notice that a portion of the proceeds for this book will go to benefit Petfinder.com, a website I send people to all the time that is a clearinghouse for myriad rescues around the country. Basically, anyone with a heart should read this book.

One of a Kind, Pretty and Delicious

The Culinary Canine

by Kathryn Levy Feldman (writer), Sabina Louise Pierce (photographer)


I received this book, and it was unlike anything I had ever seen! It is “The Culinary Canine,” and what it is is a combination of beautiful and useful, and an all-around fun idea. I know, you’re thinking “what the heck is she talking about?”

This is a combination cookbook and coffee-table book, all recipes FOR dogs, all done by famous, award-winning chefs who happen to be dog lovers. These are chefs whose names you have heard, ones who you have likely seen on TV if you are a fan of any Chef shows, and the fun part is we get to learn more about the people, as well as get a recipe from each. The dogs range from large to small, purebred to rescue, omnivores to dogs with sensitive tummies, and have notes about how much to feed your dog, based on size, etc.

As the book was the concept of photographer Sabina Pierce – well, inspired by her dog Maddie – the books is also full on stunning photographs, showing these big name food folks in an entirely different light. I mean Georges Perrier – yes, the world-renowned French chef – was one of the first to be on board with the project. His Isabelle, a Bichon Frise who understands both French and English, gets her food prepared at the restaurant, and frozen in individual portions, and has never eaten commercial dog food. And why would she, right?

Anita Lo, who was quite the formidable opponent on Top Chef Masters, seems so much softer pictured with her two Maltese in the basket of her bicycle – and you can tell they are accustomed to such treatment, too!

The recipes are all well-presented, none of it seems to daunting or complex, and lots of it looks like something you might want to sample for yourself! I, sadly, have many food allergies, but so do the dogs of some of these chefs, and so I’m betting you could find a recipe that would work for your pooch, no matter its requirements!

Writer Kit Feldman makes the stories that accompany each recipe and photo spread engaging and fun, and the book makes the point early on that cooking for your dog is probably the least intimidating way to begin, as the dog will likely enjoy it, whether or not it comes out exactly right! Most of the recipes look like they would be tasty for humans, too!

I got to interview Kit and Sabina on the radio, and they were as fun as the book is! And, in case you were wondering, the dogs were harder to photograph than the people, but you’d never know it from the images in the book. I reccomend this for anyone with a dog, but especially for those with dogs who like being a little spoiled … (isn’t that all of them)? It’s not only interesting, but gorgeous to flip through, too. Leave it on your end table, and visitors will be jealous of your dog!

Medicine Amongst War

The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire
by Khassan Baiev

with Ruth and Nicholas Daniloff


I read this book back in 2004, not knowing what I was in for. I live in Newton, Massachusetts, with a large enough Russian population that the local weekly paper prints a section in Russian once a month. But most of the Russians I meet here are Russian Jews. Newton also has a large Jewish population, so that makes sense.

Though I hear of Russia, and Russian accents fairly often, I do not hear about Chechnya, except on the news. And that is a rare event, even back when The events of this book were taking place, you rarely heard anything about Chechnya, except mentions of Chechyn separatists, and violence. I didn’t even know why they wanted to separate, the religious or political reasons or any other reason being the war, I knew nothing. And if you had told me there were Russian Muslims, I would have believed you, but assumed they were a tiny minority – Russia is a huge place, there’s probably some of every religion in there somewhere. And I couldn’t have told you where Chechnya was on a map – you only see Russia as one big piece, no states or zone within it.

The book taught me a lot about Chechnya, but that wasn’t hard to do, as ignorant as I was. But its main goal was to tell the story of a doctor caught in the middle of a war, and the danger he faced every day. A moral person, he takes his oath as a doctor seriously, and was determined to treat all the injured, regardless of their ethnicity or religion. Just that decision nearly cost him his life, many time. The horrors are compounded by his compassion, his love for his family and his grief at the injustice and oppression that was tearing apart his homeland.

Can you even imagine having your life in danger daily, being told you are a traitor for saving lives just because the person you are helping is of a different religion than your own? Can you imagine your family being in danger, but knowing you have to keep doing your job, as lives are at stake? How hard, when we just take life, and the access to medical care, pretty much for granted.
I know I am spoiled, being an American, living in a major metropolitan area – I could expect to receive care at any number of facilities a short distance from my house, and no one
is going to check my religious affiliation before deciding whether to save my life.

You still don’t hear much about Chechnya on Western news, nothing much has changed. But this book will teach you far more than you think, and I recommend it to anyone who cares about his or her fellow human beings. It’s amazing, heartbreaking, horrifying, informative and absorbing all at once. And it was so burned into my brain that I have just written this without even opening the cover, having read in over four years ago.