Pet Tales Reviewed

This first book would probably have been better reviewed in the September issue of Pet Tails but I only recently was made aware of it by my niece and it is the kind of book that is good to read at any time if only to remind us that not all heroes are of the two-legged variety.

Dog HeroesThe original Dog Heroes of September 11th: A Tribute to America's Search and Rescue Dogs by Nina Kilgore Bauer was written to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks and documented the noble efforts of some 73 search dog handlers and their dogs recounted from their personal experiences in interviews over a two year period.  The original edition also provided an overview of search and rescue K-9s in America, including the dogs' tasks, training and certification requirements.   The newly-revised and expanded edition which was published last year features over 100 new pages, including 150 new color photographs and brand new chapters on military working dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan, therapy dogs who worked at Ground Zero, and the Search Dog Foundation's (SDF) new National Training Center and post 9/11 rescue missions at home and abroad.

Some of the dogs featured are live-find detection dogs while others detect human remains.  A number of the dogs highlighted are cross-trained for both.  It will be readily apparent in reading their stories that these dogs do not do what they do as strictly well-trained exercises or by rote.  They are as emotionally invested in finding victims—whether alive or dead—as are their human counterparts.  They often express as much anguish as their handlers when their search is in vain or elation when they are able to find a survivor or at least locate remains to bring comfort to a victim's family.  Many handlers describe their dogs as being "imbued through and through with the will to serve"—or as one said: "Make no mistake about it, these dogs volunteer their services.  A canine...must raise his paw and volunteer for service.  He can never be made to do this work by coercion.  He works because he wants to."

Whether trained in therapy work or not, the dogs brought comfort to the emergency workers on hand who would kneel and hug the dogs, talk to them about friends they had lost or a dog they had when they were a child.  As one woman put it, "The dogs were literally a beacon of comfort and healing...even priests stopped for a hug."  To many on that day and in the days that followed, "it was the dogs and what they did that pulled [them all] through 9/11."

While many of the stories may seem repetitive, they are each an inspiration in their own right.  Be warned, however, that as the Book of the Month Club wrote in its review of the first edition: "...this book is guaranteed to choke you up."

Check with your local library to see if they have a copy of this book.  If not, consider purchasing a copy—read it yourself!—and then donate it.  It is a book which everyone should read and will add a different perspective to research on this darkest day in American history.  Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help further the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation's (NDSDF) vital work in protecting and preserving our country through the training and deployment of search and rescue dogs.

Hardcover - 2nd Edition

Publisher:   Kennel Club Books, LLC

Pub. Date:  July 2011

And now, on a much lighter note:

The elections are over, the incessant political ads and robo-calls have stopped, we now know who our President will be for the next four years.  Most importantly, however, we know who our "1st Pet" will be for four more years —Bo Obama, the Portuguese Water Dog!  Bo follows in a long line of 1st Pets dating back to earliest times.  Following are a few books—two for children—introducing some of these interesting "First Family" members.

Julia Moberg has written a new book entitled Presidential Pets: The Weird, Wacky, Little, Big, Scary, Strange Animals That Have Lived in the White House.  The title really says it all!  Not all presidential pets have been your usual dogs and cats.  You'll find out all about them and get a "snapshot" of our forefathers through a variety of fascinating, sometimes mysterious, and often fun factoids, stats, accomplishments and poetry (which are fun to read and listen to!). The illustrations by Jeff Albrecht are great too.

For ages    8-12

Publisher:  Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.

Pub. Date:  July 2012

Unleashed: The Lives of White House Pets is a book based on a play produced by the Kennedy Center and the White House Historical Society and was adapted by Ronald Kidd.

Alongside the politicians and their families, some crazy pets have served as "1st Pets"—from John Quincy Adams' pet alligator, Abe Lincoln's goat, William Taft's cow, right up to the present day.

TitlesThis fictional tale, created by the Kennedy Center in conjunction with an educational presidential initiative, tells the story of a girl named Alistair whose father has just been elected President of the United States.  It is suggested to her by White House staff that her Chihuahua, Tipp, is not a very presidential dog and should be replaced.  Fearful for Tipp's fate, the two discover a machine that will send them back in time to a safer place until the nonsense about Tipp blows over—but a mistake sends them on an adventure through time where they discover that the White House has been the home of many "unpresidential" pets and Alistair decides that with this knowledge she can prove that Tipp has as much right as any of them in the history of White House pets.  Now she just has to figure out how to get home!


Some historical information is provided but the story primarily serves as an introduction to the variety of animals that have called the White House their home.

For Ages   7-10

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pub. Date:  2011

The Associated Press Staff has produced First Pet: The Presidents and Their Beloved Canines, Felines, and Other Four-Legged Creatures Who Made Their Homes at the White House.

First Pet is a pictorial history with photos taken from the voluminous archives of the Associated Press.  These images are joined by interesting facts and trivia about the famous first pets and includes an introduction by Claire McLean, Founder and Director of the Presidential Pet Museum.

From the very beginning of our republic, animals both domestic and wild, have been a part of the presidency.  Horses, bears, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, raccoons and more have taken up residence with the First Family.  This book is for all animal lovers and history buffs and sheds light on the human side of the most powerful leaders of the US through their caring, playful interaction with their animals.

For All Ages

Publisher:  Associated Press Publishing

Pub. Date:  2010

Have a Happy Holiday and a Safe and Happy New Year—and remember, give the gift of books !

Year Published: 

  • 2013


  • December-January

Author Name: 

Author Bio:

Joan is a resident of Lynn, Massachusetts. She received a Bachelors Degree and Masters Degree in Literature from Salem State University, Salem, MA and a Masters in Library Science from the University of Rhode Island. Upon graduation from URI she was inducted as a life member into Beta Phi Mu, the library science honor society. For thirty years she worked at the Lynn Public Library as a children's librarian, in the adult circulation department, as Assistant Chief Librarian and then for 13 years as Chief Librarian until her retirement in 2003. Since her retirement she has served as newsletter editor and membership chair for the Friends of Lynn Library and has been appointed by Lynn's Mayor to serve on the Lynn Disability Commission. She also presents historic slide lectures to senior groups, church groups, libraries and the like in Eastern Massachusetts. She has authored Dedicated to the People: A History of the Lynn Public Library and transcribed and edited The Diaries of Charles Brooks Smith 1860-1865. She has written feature articles and book reviews for Pet Tails Magazine since 2005. Joan can be contacted at: Publishers/authors wishing to have their works reviewed in Pet Tails Magazine should send copies to: Joan Reynolds Pet Tails Mag. Reviews 2 Victory Rd. Apt. 35 Lynn, MA 01902-1042