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March 26, 2013 > Ohlone Humane Society: Pleasures of the literary kind

Ohlone Humane Society: Pleasures of the literary kind

By Nancy Lyon

If you've ever stolen a few moments away with a good book and given yourself over to the delights of encounters with other worlds and other creatures while tucked away from the pressures of everyday understand what I mean.

I'd like to share a few captivating books that have come my way, some hilarious and filled with laughter, and others of a more thought provoking nature filled with love and loyalty, sometimes poignant. All, of course, deal with critters and their humans.

From Baghdad, With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava by Jay Kopelman and Melinda Roth - First Lyons Press

This is the heartwarming true story of Jay Kopelman, a Marine Lieutenant Colonel stationed in Baghdad during the war, and Lava an Iraqi pup who stole the hearts of many good people, civilians and Marines alike; people who went to great ends, often bending regulations to save a dog's life and bring him safely to America. It's honest and courageous and not about politics.

Kopelman takes full responsibility for directly disobeying a General Order to save Lava and while some may not hold Kopelman highly for his's a time of war and disorder and a very human reaction to challenges that test people's humanity.

"...From hardened Marines to wartime journalists to endangered Iraqi citizens, Baghdad, With Love tells a true unforgettable story of an unlikely band of heroes who learn unexpected lessons about life, death and war from a mangy, flea-ridden refugee."

Enslaved By Ducks by Bob Tarte - Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

I kept seeing this oddly titled book in a catalogue and thought if they kept offering it, it must be something special...I wasn't disappointed. Bob Tarte's book chronicles his adventures as a city-dweller who moves to seemingly peaceful rural Michigan and acquires a wife...a rabbit...ducks and a growing menagerie of countless types of animals who take over their lives. The result is a hilarious, side-bursting journey that includes some touchingly beautiful tales. It's a must-read for animal lovers who have always fantasized about that 'place in the country' with the caveat - be careful what you ask for.

Kitty Cornered: How Frannie and Five Other Incorrigible Cats Seized Control of Our House and Made It Their Home by Bob Tarte - Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

This is another of Tarte's delightful chronicles of life in the country and the cats that own him and his wife Linda. Whether you absolutely love cats or are simply curious about their fascinating ways, this is a great chance to gain insight into their world and behavior. Each of Tarte's cats is a master of manipulation but with feline style and individual personalities as they deal with the human world on their own terms.

Unspoken by Angela Hunt - WestBow Press

Unspoken was a given to me by a friend and came highly recommended and rightfully so. This extraordinary story revolves around a young woman researcher named Glee Granger who raises a western lowland gorilla named Sema. Over an eight year period, Sema is the center of Glee's life and during that time, she not only raises her like her own child but she teaches Sema sign language. Unfortunately, Sema is legally owned by the zoo where she was born and it now wants her returned so they can exploit her abilities.

"A love unlike any other...a story of sacrifice and the unspoken connections that bring us together..."they live together, play together, eat together, and "talk" together. Though Sema isn't the first gorilla to use sign language, Glee has pushed their interaction to breakthrough levels... Glee's only option for continuing her work and to be with Sema is to join the zoo staff. At first reluctant, Glee begins to see real possibilities in their new arrangement...until the unthinkable happens. One event overturns everything Glee thought she knew about humans and animals, the seen and the unseen, the spoken...and the unspoken.

She taught a gorilla to talk. Now can Glee learn to listen?"

All books are available in paperback and Kindle editions.

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