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They say you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but if appearances didn’t matter, people like my husband (a graphic designer) would be out of a job, and Christian Louboutin couldn’t justify $1000 for a pair of shoes. I super love the cover of Happy Dog, Happy You (by pet expert Arden Moore), but this book is more than just a pretty face. Moore’s handy, illustrated volume contains hundreds of ideas for quick, easy, and fun things you can do to entertain and bond with your dog, and it even includes tips on training, travel, health, and grooming.

Since my dogs and I don’t always seem to be interested in the same hobbies (though they’ve definitely shown an interest in digging gardening), maybe it’s worth checking out.

You can fetch it from Buy Olympia or autographed from Arden Moore’s site.

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I love this book. I love this book.

A Three Dog Life (Harcourt, 2006) is a memoir by Abigail Thomas. It’s a non-linear, beautifully lyrical reflection on several years of Thomas’ life in which she comes to terms with her husband’s traumatic brain injury and the changes (to say the least) it brings.

It’s not a dog book, per se. That is to say, it’s not really about dogs. But at the same time, it sort of is. As Thomas adjusts to the changes in her life, she learns what dogs know: that living in the present, in the moment, is perhaps what we’re meant to do.

Go get it! You can read it in an afternoon. Do it. Seriously. It’s so good.

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Writer and photographer Melissa McDaniel’s Photo Book Projects celebrate special dogs — namely, handicapped dogs and those given a second chance through rescue. The first two books in her series, Deaf Dogs and Rescued in America, are comprised of gorgeous portraits of over 175 dogs Melissa met and photographed to bring attention to the unique gifts of hearing-impaired dogs and the importance of saving lives through rescue.

Says McDaniel: “Dogs should be treated as individuals and should not be stereotyped by their breed, their “handicap” or their past. Judge them for who they are, not for what others have told you they are.” Word.

Melissa has recently partnered with the Petfinder Foundation and is donating 30% of online sales to that worthy organization. Currently Melissa’s working on the next books in the Photo Book series, photographing pit bulls and puppy mill survivors.

You can read more about the Photo Book Projects, see more photos, and order the books here.

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Take a touching fish-out-of-water tale, a love affair with a handsome gardener, rich descriptions of handmade Italian food and wine, and set it all in the picturesque, romantic Italian countryside… how do you make this story better? Why, add a dog, of course.

Marcus of Umbria: What an Italian Dog Taught an American Girl about Love is Justine van der Leun‘s story of her turbulent year in a tiny Italian village. Leaving her Brooklyn job and home behind, Justine moves to Italy seeking love and adventure and ends up, to her surprise, finding most of what she’s seeking in a rescued pointer she names Marcus (who, actually, is female, which might be a little confusing, but actually makes total sense). Through her humorous, sometimes heartbreaking memoir, Justine offers insights on cultural differences, “finding oneself,” and finding love in unexpected places — or creatures.

Justine was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions for phetched. Enjoy!

phetched:  Although I grew up with dogs, I was never really deeply involved in their care when I was a kid – so when I found my first (i.e., very own) dog, Zoey, in a field near my house on my way to work one day, I suddenly had to learn a whole lot about dogs really fast. What was the most challenging, shocking, humorous, or intriguing thing you learned from Marcus once you decided to make her your own?

Justine:  I always adored my dogs while I was growing up, but our relationship stayed the same for their entire lives—probably because I was not their primary caretaker. I threw. They fetched. I fed. They ate. They pooped. I…you get the point. Now, I continue to be surprised and thrilled as my relationship with Marcus deepens and evolves as time goes on. At this point, I can viscerally feel what she needs from me, and vice versa.

Your book is about you and your dog, of course, but to me it’s very much a book about relationships. To you, what’s the most important thing dogs teach us about relationships?

What don’t dogs teach us about relationships? They teach us about devotion—who stands by you more solidly than your dog? They teach us about forgiveness—they never hold grudges. They teach us the importance of quiet companionship and partnership. And by the fact of their otherness, they teach us to get out of ourselves and to look at situations for a new perspective. And of course, above all, dogs teach us how to love purely, openly, shamelessly.

A big Hollywood production company buys the rights to Marcus of Umbria and, unfortunately, decides to make it into one of those corny talking-animal vehicles. Who is cast to provide Marcus’ voice?

I think that if we could convince Keira Knightley to do a high-pitched, childlike voice, she’d be the woman for the job. Even though Marcus hails from Italy, she’s an English pointer and I’m pretty sure she’d have a British accent.

OK, so say Marcus really could talk, and she accompanies you on a book tour. What do you think she’d tell your audiences she wants people to take away from her/your story?

Marcus is bird-obsessed and I suspect she’d take the opportunity to put forth her thesis about why humans should make all public spaces friendly to dogs stalking critters and birds. Once that was out the way, and assuming no birds were present in the audience for her to point at, she’d probably make a pitch about how love really can be found in the most unexpected of places. She might add that her journey from abandoned Umbrian farm dog to hipster Brooklynite is proof that you never know how your life will turn out.

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San Francisco photographer Kira Stackhouse (of Nuena Photography) loves photographing dogs – so much so that’s she’s taken on a daunting but impressive challenge: to photograph all 150+ dog AKC-recognized dog breeds for a book (with the working title Project DOG). Since Kira plans to photograph both purebred and rescue/mixed “versions” of each breed, that’s 300+ dogs total. That’s almost a dog a day. (Hey, Kira! You could call your book A Dog a Day. Great title, right? We’ll discuss royalty options.)

Considering Stackhouse’s touching, intimate style, Project DOG is sure to be anything but your average “breed book.”

Project DOG is currently on a nationwide search for dogs to photograph for inclusion in the book. For information on where Kira and her camera will be, and how to submit your dog for consideration, visit the Project DOG web site.

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Hey, y’all! It’s Phreebie Phriday here on phetched. What does that mean? Well, it means we’ve got some phreebies (or, less annoyingly, freebies) sitting around here that we’re giving away today — one day, one big package, one winner, wham-bam thank you ma’am.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. Entries close at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time (quittin’ time!) TODAY, and a winner will be chosen at random later tonight. The winner’s package will be shipped out Monday morning. How’s that for phast and phriendly service? OK, I’ll stop.

U.S. and Canada addresses only, please. Unfortunately, I’m not made of money.

This giveaway includes ALL of the following:

A “pawtographed” copy of Bad to the Bone: Memoir of a Rebel Doggie Blogger, the hilarious debut from Bo Hoefinger (of Dogster’s For the Love of Dog blog) chronicling Bo’s rise from shelter dog to blogger fame, courtesy of the author

A copy of Hollywood Barks! – the true stories of show-biz dogs – courtesy of Happy Tails Books

A fresh and tasty bag of Wellness Pure Rewards turkey & salmon jerky treats, courtesy of Mambo Sprouts

That’s a $40.00 value, and it could be yours PHREE! Happy Phriday!

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Nutty pumpkin crunch. Creamy sole with summer garden vegetables. Mediterranean chicken.

Tasty recipes from this month’s Bon Appetit? Nope. They’re all recipes for healthy, wholesome homecooked meals for your dog found in Made out of Love, a new recipe book from The Honest Kitchen… and one lucky phetched reader will win a copy signed by the author, along with some yummy THK samples!

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You may already know The Honest Kitchen for their healthy, human-grade, grain- and gluten-free dehydrated dog foods and supplements. Now Lucy Postins, founder and president of THK (and companion animal nutritionist), has compiled this collection of 65 recipes for homecooked dishes for your dogs and cats, from quick and easy food toppers to delectable main courses and desserts. Postins includes helpful information about ingredients, portion sizes, and foods that can help pets with ailments such as fleas, itchy skin, and diabetes.

Each recipe is clearly coded as suitable for dogs, cats, and in many cases, humans too (although I do think I’d pass on “sardine salad” anyway). While some recipes require the use of specific THK dehydrated foods, many of the recipes can be made with ingredients right from your grocery store.

If you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of Made out of Love, including some THK dehydrated samples, check out entry info after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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This giveaway has ended. Thanks to all who entered!

The economy, crime, natural disasters, Roman Polanski… it’s hard to find good news these days.

Luckily, Happy Tails Books is in the business of good news and happy endings. The Colorado-based publishing group, founded by dog rescuer and foster mom Kyla Duffy, is celebrating the recent releases of Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories about Golden Retrievers and Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories about Boston Terriers. Each book is a collection of true rescue stories guaranteed to make even the most hardened and heartless cynic a rescue advocate.

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Besides donating a portion of sales to help fund rescue organizations, Happy Tails Books is passionate about raising awareness of dog rescue efforts.

I was excited to receive a copy of Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories about Golden Retrievers to check out. Let me tell you, “feel-good book” doesn’t even begin to cut it.

The 43 stories in the book, submitted by rescue workers, fosters, and adoptive families, tell of golden retrievers rescued from shelters, pounds, cold basements, and abusive owners. These broken-down dogs, given a second chance through rescue, are renewed and restored through the love and devotion of their adoptive families and “failed fosters.” Of course, Lost Souls: FOUND! proves that rescue’s most redemptive powers are often felt not by the dogs who are saved, but by we humans who welcome these forgiving, gentle souls into our hearts and homes.

Naturally, truth be told, not all the stories in the the book have happy endings, like the heartbreaking tales of Olivia and Zeus Bear. Indeed, these stories impart an even stronger message of the importance of responsible pet care and the often thankless, yet unbelievably crucial, job of dog rescue.

Happy Tails’ upcoming releases will feature true rescue stories of dachshunds, Labradors, pit bulls, and “All-American” mutts (yay!). While somewhat partial to the mutts myself, I like the breed-specific focus of the Happy Tails series — it’s important to remind potential adopters that wonderful purebred dogs can be found waiting for forever homes in shelters and rescues across the country, perhaps the best way we can strengthen the campaign against puppy mills and irresponsible breeding practices.

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To find out more about (and order) Happy Tails Books, check out their web site. Plus, if you have a great rescue story to tell, you can submit it to Happy Tails for possible inclusion in a future book! Awesome!

And, for a chance to win a copy of Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories about Golden Retrievers, simply leave a comment on this post below! (You will be asked to provide your email address to comment, but it won’t be published.) Entries will be accepted until 10:00 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday, October 3rd, and at that time we’ll draw one name at random to receive a shiny, brand-new copy of the book. Yippee! (One entry per person, please, and U.S. and Canada shipping addresses only)

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Take a gang of dogs (and a couple cats), a mysterious adventure story, award-winning writing and illustration, give it all a good shake, and what do you get?

You get Beasts of Burden, a new comic series (based on an Eisner Award-winning story) from writer Evan Dorkin and artist Jill Thompson, released today by Dark Horse. It’s a beautifully illustrated friendship/mystery/horror/action/heroism tale replete with talking animals and butt-sniffin’ jokes. Awesome.

This art? I love it. CHECK OUT THAT CREEPY SKULL IN THE BACKGROUND!! Watch out, pups!!

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The adventures of Pugs, Red, Ace, Whitey and friends will continue with BoB #2-#4, available for pre-order now at Dark Horse.

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(Fetched via LittleBarkBook)

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Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Head over to Barnes & Noble and pick up a copy of The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook by Liz Palika (Wiley & Sons, 2005, 128 pp.)

The cookbook includes 50 drool-inducing recipes like Taco Treats and Molasses Granola Balls.

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Liz Palika is an award-winning professional dog trainer and writer and is the author of over 40 books on animal behavior and training.

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