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December 20, 2011 > Ohlone Humane Society: My favorite things

Ohlone Humane Society: My favorite things

By Nancy Lyon

Books are wonderful friends, it really doesn't matter if they are the traditional companion you can hold and mull over while turning the pages beside the fire, or not so warm and fuzzy quick moments snatched from the convenient electronic form during a busy day. Books enrich our lives in so many ways and giving one as a gift is a special act of sharing.

One of my favorite authors is Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, in his professional world a rather controversial psychoanalyst and academic, but a person whose deep love and respect for animals shows unquestionably in his writing. If you share his feelings or are simply interested in exploring the world of animals through an animal lover's eyes, it's an adventure that can be life changing.

Masson authored the highly acclaimed and stirring 'When Elephants Weep' a decade ago and has since written many books on his passion... the world of animal feelings and their reality. Each one would make a fantastic present and I strongly recommend his following works:

Dogs Never Lie About Love: Reflections on the Emotional World of Dogs - Masson explores the inner world of dogs and investigates the scientific studies, myths and observations on the complex inner life of Man's Best Friend. If you've ever had any doubts that dogs have a rich and diverse perception of reality, read this book and you'll never look at a dog again as anything but the embodiment of unfailing Love. It is fun, insightful and serious, a great read for anyone and especially those of us that know our canine friends and companions are very special beings.

The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals - It's not often that as people consider the lives and feelings of farmed animals; in fact, we find it uncomfortable to consider them sentient beings who share many of our qualities. Masson documents examples they have in common with humans like tenderness, humor and trust - leaving us with little doubt that they have complex emotions, intelligence and very possibly are as self-aware as we are. It also gives rise to serious consideration of the way we treat animals like pigs, cows, chickens, goats and other animals that are designated as "food" and the conditions we force millions of them to live and die in. It's a very timely book that is touching, thought provoking, and ground-breaking.

Two fictional tales by Masson that would make great holiday offerings -

A Cat That Came In From The Cold: A Fable - For cat lovers... the story of Billi, a somewhat senior undomesticated exotic cat gifted with great wisdom who sets out on a worldwide journey to try and understand the "two-foots." It's an engaging tale of his encounters with the animals who share their experiences of humans, stories that are often not positive, not all of the animals have been treated well, and some have met violence and others terrible prejudice at the hands of humans for simply being who they are. Little that he hears makes him want to become part of the human world until arriving back home he meets a young girl from the past who is a kindred spirit and he decides to become the first domesticated cat. The book is in hardcopy and may be difficult to find but there's a masterfully done audio version available.

His next book is brimming with holiday spirit - The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving. It's undeniable, we have always had a special connection with dogs, they have loved us without reservation no matter our status or fortune in life and that link is a unique and wonderful gift. Masson, as a card carrying animal lover, explores this sharing with all its compassion, empathy and joy that is an integral part of the relationship.

From his scholarly background, he sets out to show the development of the rapport between man and dog over thousands of years of evolution. He introduces his beloved dog Benjy, who failed as a guide dog for the blind but who is filled with a wealth of enthusiastic love of everything and everyone in the world. It's a wonderful book that is both scholarly and joyous. I guarantee you won't regret reading it.

In this season of giving, books are a great offering but the presenting of animals to others as a gift is a bad idea. Animals are best chosen by the person who will be their family and caregiver at a quieter time. The unsolicited and unexpected gift of an animal often ends up unhappily for both. Also consider that it is not the ideal time during holiday celebrations to bring a "pet" into your home; the excitement can be upsetting for them during the initial period of adjustment and the opportunity to get into trouble with foods dangerous to their health and well-being, wrappings and other indigestible but tempting things is too big a risk.

Happy Holidays!

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