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Culture Corner

Scribblings and Screenings for the Animal Set

Dark Day, Good Dogs

Three recent books offer powerful tributes to canine courage on one of the darkest days in U.S. history.

The chaos of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2011, would have been challenging enough for anyone to negotiate, perhaps none more so than a blind man on the 78th floor of Tower One.

But thanks to the unwavering trust between Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle, there were two fewer victims that day. In Thunder Dog, Hingson (with co-author Susy Flory) recounts his escape with Roselle down 1,463 stairs and subsequent flight through the streets of Manhattan.Interspersed with vivid descriptions of the day’s terror are Hingson’s reflections on life with the dogs who have helped show him the way.

Dog Heroes of September 11th, by Nona Kilgore Bauer, profiles 80 dog-and-handler teams that searched the crash sites for human remains, helping to bring closure to victims’ families.

Photographs of dogs balancing on concrete beams and traversing shifting mountains of rubble reveal the dangerous working conditions, while interviews with the handlers detail the dogs’ tireless dedication to the task and the comfort they brought to distraught rescue workers.

Retrieved, by photographer Charlotte Dumas, visits 15 of the surviving search dogs a decade after their service. Portraits show gray-muzzled seniors soaking up their golden years, enjoying activities like swimming, agility practice, car rides—and a much-deserved rest on a soft bed.

Nine (Plus a Dozen) Lives

Cat lovers are sure to find some creatures they recognize in Susan M. Seidman’s Cat Companions: A Memoir of Loving and Learning. One chapter is devoted to Rosalie, the “gorgeous egotist.” Others tell the stories of Cindy, “the innocent misfit”; Chico (a.k.a. Spike), “the freeloader”; and Supan, who provides “a lasting lesson in companionship.” In all, Seidman discusses what she’s experienced and learned by sharing her home with 21 cats over the course of five decades. A longtime cat lover (obviously) and freelance journalist who has written extensively on companion animals—she wrote The Pet Surplus: What Every Dog and Cat Owner Can do to Help Reduce It—Seidman covers both the joys and the sorrows, and passes along practical tips for people who cohabitate with felines. She also explains a 22-year petless period in her life, and offers some advice to help owners provide care for their pets who outlive them. “To me, each pet is memorable,” Seidman writes. “Each life story is worth revisiting.”

Meow, Mon

Cat Cay in the Bahamas is a lush tropical island of gleaming white beaches, whispering sea breezes—and free-roaming cats. When Cathy Unruh and her husband saw the island cats’ plight, the couple began a successful trap-neuter-return (TNR) program there. One of the first animals they caught was a weak and malnourished kitten, whom they took home and nursed back to health. After many months, the wild kitten, named Lucy Miracle, decided to became part of the Unruh family, which included two other cats and a dog. In Taming Me: Memoir of a Clever Island Cat, Lucy—with some “assistance” from Unruh—describes her daily struggle for survival and the many adventures she encountered along the way. Collage Books will release Taming Me on Oct. 16 to coincide with National Feral Cat Day.

Read the rest of this issue from Animal Sheltering magazine

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