Book Reviews

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1994:

Track of the Cat, by Nevada Barr. G.P.
Putnam’s Sons (200 Madison Ave., New York, NY
10016) 1993, 238 pages, $19.95 hardcover.
“When is a cougar not a cougar?” asks National Park
Service Ranger Anna Pigeon, the heroine of this mystery
novel. Anna discovers the corpse of fellow park ranger Sheila
Drury while on a routine expedition searching for signs of
mountain lions. Drury has apparently been killed by one of
the big cats, but there are inconsistencies, which only Anna
seems to recognize. The authorities order the inevitable hunt
for the killer cat, and a lactating female cougar is blamed and
sacrificed. Anna, a native New Yorker who is more at home
with the desert wildlife of the Texas outback than with people,
is outraged and begins to probe. The plot twists and turns,
and the suspense carries through the last page. A bonus for the
animal person is that the book, written by real-life park ranger
Nevada Barr, is totally “animal rights” while being blessedly
bereft of philosophizing.
––Kim Bartlett

Sit & Grow Rich:
Petsitting and
Housesitting for Profit, by Patricia A. Doyle.
Upstart Publishing Co. (12 Portland St. Dover, NH
03820), 1994. 148 pages, $19.95.
Chances are, you will not grow rich by petsitting
and housesitting, more accurately described as daily caretak-
ing. If you do make a lot of money, as former real estate
salesperson Patricia Doyle did, you’ll make it by being in per-
petual motion, rarely sitting down while visiting as many as 20
homes a day––and constantly promoting your services.
However, petsitting and housesitting are work well-
suited to trustworthy single women who do not have another
career, have a way with animals, have reliable transportation,
and do not have children at home. Technically speaking,
mothers and men could do it too, but in practice the necessity
of working weekends and during school vacations makes pet-
sitting and housesitting as a mother rather difficult, while
because of cultural stereotypes, men will have more difficulty
gaining the trust of potential clients. A growing number of
ANIMAL PEOPLE readers have discovered that petsitting
and housesitting fit nicely with the avocation of animal protec-
tion work. Doyle recommends charging $12-$15 per hour,
which for promotional purposes should be translated into a set
fee per visit and per pet that includes your transportation costs,
so that you can tell clients up front just what your services will
cost for a weekend, a week, or a month. She projects a first-
year income high enough to pay a salary of $25,000. Even
half that level is a living. Her book provides a thorough walk-
through of all the procedures involved in setting up the busi-
ness, doing the job, and hiring help when necessary. She
remembers the details. For an initial investment of $19.95,
many an underemployed but capable animal person could soon
have the work of her dreams.
––M.C.
The Handbook of Cage and Aviary Birds,
edited by David Alderton. Sterling Publishing Co.
(387 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016-8810),
1994. 496 pages; 269 color photos. $24.95 hardcover.
Essentially a field guide to all the
species you’re more likely to find indoors than
out, this may be the most useful title for rescuers
yet in the fast-growing Sterling cage bird refer-
ence library––handy for making quick positive
identifications when, for instance, the cops nab
15 birds in a drug raid and bring them to your
shelter. It’ll help you decide whether to call in the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate pos-
sible violations of CITES and the Endangered
Species Act, and also help you keep them alive
and well until you can find a secure and qualified
foster home.
––M.C
Witness: Endangered Species of North
America, by Susan Middleton and David Litt-
schwager. Chronicle Books (275 5th St., San Francisco,
CA 94103), 1994. 255 pages, $29.95 paper.
Ever wonder just what a delta smelt, a piping
plover, or some other controversial endangered species looks
like? Middleton and Littschwager provide lifesized
mugshots––literally, as they prefer facial close-ups, isolated
from natural backgrounds––of about 200 of the animals and
plants we most often hear about but least often see. Vital sta-
tistics and brief descriptions of recovery efforts accompany.
As a “coffee table reference,” this volume might do most good
in the waiting rooms of ordinary non-animal-related business-
es, where people who don’t give a damn about a thus-and-
such because they’ve never met one might become acquainted
and encouraged to care in their idle moments.
––M.C.
The First Pet History of the World, by David
Comfort. Fireside Books (1230 Ave. of the Americas,
N.Y., NY 10020), 1994. 279 pages, $10.95, paper.
David Comfort’s First Pet History of the World
owes more to Mel Brooks than Will and Ariel Durant, mixing
fact and fiction with no concern for attribution. Think of it as
extracts from supermarket tabloids inside a book cover.
––M.C.
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