BOOKS: Pets and the meaning of life

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1994:

Yes Virginia ...There IS A Pet
Heaven: Understanding Your Older
Dogs and Cats, by Corienne “Corky”
Jones. Pebbles Publishing (POB 1432,
Beaverton, OR 97075-1432), 1991, 144
pages, paper, $12.95 plus $2.00 postage.
Corienne Jones sums up her
approach to caring for older pets in mantra-
like fashion several times during the course of
her book:

“Extra T.L.C.
Compassion And Understanding
Patience + Patience + Patience
In short, she advocates that aging
pets be treated in the same gentle and con-
cerned manner as aging people. Their diets
must be strictly controlled and monitored,
much care taken with dental and skin hygiene,
cleanliness must be rigorously maintained
because of increasing incontinence, and they
must be protected from stress.
Jones employs a chatty, folksy
style, including anecdotes gleaned from
friends and acquaintances, general informa-
tion on pet care products, and whimsical
“diaries” that her own dog might have written,
could she write. There’s not really much hard
detail; for that, Jones constantly advises pet
owners to consult their local veterinarians.
Her book chiefly reminds pet owners that if
we take a dog or cat into our family, it is our
duty to extend the same care to that animal as
we would to any other family member.
––P.J. Kemp
Meditations For Cats Who Do
Too Much, by Michael Cader.
Penguin, 1993. 101 pages. $4.95.
Here is a work for easing September
efforts to pick up the tempo and greet the new
season. Cader’s format consists of sections in
a nine-life program, with several meditations
for each, headed by quotations as eloquent
and elegant as the most tastefully literate cat
could wish for. (Remember, this book is for
cats.) He quotes from authors as distin-
guished or as recondite as Sir Walter Scott,
Coco Chanel, Erich Fromm, Mrs. Beeton,
Mizzy Dizick…(Mizzy Dizick?)
The quotations are followed by
brief discourses or meditations on each phase
of being a cat with everything to do and only
nine lives to do it in. For example, there is
acceptance of the Higher Power, a.k.a. The
Owner. Then Cader addresses various fears:
of the Higher Power prolonging the weekend
beach trip forever, failing to serve breakfast
promptly at 5:30 a.m., developing a prefer-
ence for other humans, coming to believe the
house is hers, etc. Each meditation ends with
an appropriate affirmation: “I will root myself
by doing what I need to do. Particularly when
the Higher Power is not looking.”
Occasionally interspersed are exer-
cises to enhance the cat’s enjoyment of all this
self-improving: “Take a minute to stop and
eat the flowers.” During the cat’s quest to find
the kitten within, he or she may wish to uti-
lize the lined pages left at the end of the book
for the purpose of dream analysis.
––Phyllis Clifton
Cats Are Better Than Men, by
Beverly Guhl. Doubleday (1540
Broadway, New York, NY 10036),
1994. 50 pages. $5.95.
Beverly Guhl’s premise will hardly
come as news. She establishes it beyond
doubt on every cute cartoon page. A motley
striped cat expresses cozy and charming con-
tentment with every facet of owner and
lifestyle. Cats, for example, don’t care how
long since you shaved your legs. Guhl’s cat’s
foibles are hilariously familiar, as she enjoys
dinner guests, leftovers, and mother; and
finds no need for shrinks, hot water, and
long monologues. Of course, somewhere,
some other author may be getting applause for
his new work, Cats Are Better Than Women.
––Phyllis Clifton
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