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Dog Book Reviews Print E-mail

This is where we review all the latest dog books – both fiction and non fiction. Please note that we have given a recommended retail price, but it may be possible to purchase the books for less from some outlets, or as e-books.

Really Good Dog Photography by Lucy Davies (Hoxton Mini Press x Penguin Books £35)

Like most owners, I enjoy taking pictures of my dogs, whether with a phone or a sophisticated DSLR - with varying degrees of success! But here is a book that provides inspiration for all us wabnnabe dog photographers.  It does not tell you technical details such as f stops, ISAs etc but it does give a little information about each photographer and what they were aiming for. And it will certainly encourage you to be more adventurous in your own photography.  It's an extraodinary collection of dog photographs from a variety of top photographers.  They range from the relatively simple but cute one of two Weimaraners looking over a wall to the enchanting heap of Dalmatian puppies to the hilarious dachsund guarding his stick to arty-farty black and white studies.  You don't have to be an amateur photographer to enjoy this book - it will appeal to anyone who just loves looking at dogs in all their different guises.  At £35 it's probably a rather expensive treat for oneself but Christmas is coming!  Put it on your present list and I promise you, you won't regret it...DB

Sled Dog Gun:Aviemore Dreaming by JT Bryde (Austin Macauley £14.99)

If you have ever fancied racing Siberian huskies, this is definitely the book for you!  Jim Bryde writes passionately about his many races and beloved dogs and his overwhelming ambition to win Aviemore.  (He dismisses the famous Iditarod in Alaska as only for those who are nuts!).  Unless you are familiar with husky racing you may get a bit confused about the rigs, gang lines, wheel dog etc and Bryde's "training" appears to consist of putting a six month old pup straight into harness. But obviously it works as he does well in a lot of races with his teams although he is searingly honest about the breed he loves and all their faults - the Siberian husky is definitely not a dog for novice owners.  It's just a shame that the book is littered with spelling, grammatical and puctuation errors - it is badly in need of a good good sub-editor and proof reader. Sorry if that sounds pedantic but at £15 you expect a book to have been subbed!  AH

Nigel My Family And Other Dogs by Monty Don (Two Roads £7.99)

I am a huge fan of Monty Don and my fledging garden is testament to his wise advice.  But lovely as Monty is, he is always overshadowed by that utterly gorgeous chap, Nigel: his golden retriever! Without fail, Nigel manages to steal the show which means that even people who aren't interested in gardening tune into Gardeners' World!  This book is a love story - a passion for Monty's garden Longmeadow, Nigel and all the other dogs in his life.  He writes as he talks: practical, frequently humorous and always engrossing.  I love the way he isn't precious about his garden; instead it is filled with tennis balls and half eaten sticks - just like mine.  Also, he tells of his views on training and dog psychology (much of which could have been taken straight from our Course!) as well as the heartbreaking experience of letting a dog go.  Sadly Nigel is beginning to show his age but we can only hope that Monty and Nigel's successor, the "very naughty Nellie", stay with us for very many years to come. Trust me: you will love this book. DB

Miracle by Amanda Leask (Ebury Press £6.99)

The positive relationship between autistic children and adults and dogs has been well documented.  But this is a book with a difference in that it features not only a damaged child but also a dog that was snatched from the streets of Thailand and destined for the food table.  Leask fell in love with Miracle on the internet but didn't actually meet this extraordinary dog until he arrived in the UK - and nothing had prepared her for the way he would transform the whole family.  She thought they were saving him but in fact he saves them as, quite apart from little Kyle, Leask herself has problems: she admits to a controlling personality and severe OCD. Together the three of them make an amazing team.  Leask is clearly a fighter; she doesn't want pity or sympathy but simply that other people read her story and fight for all the other Miracles. Why does she do it? Perhaps it is Leask's husband who sums it up best: she is trying to fix the world because she can't fix her son; she is trying to mend all the broken souls because she can't mend the one that is her little boy.  JT

Spotless Pets by Shannon Lush & Jennifer Fleming ( ABC Books £8.99)

When I first saw the title of this book, I thought that it was a contradiction in terms: is it possible to have a spotless pet?!  But in fact it contains some very useful green solutions to the inevitable stains and smells of your pet.  (In addition to dogs, it includes cats, birds, fish, horses and even ferrets and snakes). And the timing was perfect since my dog had just thrown up over the carpet! Some of the suggestions - for example getting drool marks off a leather couch - sound quite labour intensive and a bit of a faff but it's probably worth it if you have expensive furniture.  Personally though, I can't agree with the advice on washing your dog once a week... AH

Neville Jacobs: I'm Marc's Dog by Nicolas Newbold (Rizzoli New York £13.95)

If your dog lives the life of most dogs - ie walk, sleep, eat and not a lot else - then he should not get hold of this book! Neville is a black and white bull terrier belonging to American fashion designer, Marc Jacobs.  His exciting life is captured in a series of photographs: mixing with top models in downturn New York to travelling on private jets.  The author of the book describes himself as a photographer and Neville's studio manager.  Yes, it is a bit of a vanity project but any follower of fashion or bull terrier devotee will love it!  JT

Woof - A Book of Happiness for Dog Lovers (Exisle Publishing £12.99)

The sub-title of this book sums it up perfectly: this is a book of quotes and photographs that will make you laugh out loud.  Some of the quotes are well known, some not; some are poignant, some hilarious but they are all so true!  Each has been perfectly matched with a full colour photograph.  Some of my favourites are: A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of; A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself; If you are a dog and your owner suggest that you wear a sweater ... suggest that he wear a tail; My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am.  This is a book that will bring a smile to every dog lover - absolute magic!  DB

Posh Dogs Country Life (Pimpernel Press £12.99)

Don't be fooled by the title of this lovely book: the dogs pictured are not necessarily aristocrats!  Instead, they are dogs that were born and bred to do something in the countryside, rather than look pretty in the show ring.   Dogs as much as girls in pearls have always been at the centre of Country Life magazine and here you can see a variety of the different breeds that have graced the magazine's pages over the years - from dachsunds and terriers to springers and collies to retrievers and setters.   A picture book that any country dweller will revel in. AH

Old Faithful - Dogs Of A Certain Age by Pete Thorne (Harper Design £14.99)

There are lots of books featuring pictures of cute puppies but, to my knowledge, this is the first showing old dogs and in some cases, to be perfectly frank, some that only an owner could love!  Pete Thorne is a Canadian professional photographer who has gathered together a heart-warming collection of 75 dog photographs, along with a brief story of each and its owner.  I guarantee that some of these moving images will bring a lump to your throat: dogs like Miles the blind 12 year old chocolate Lab who thinks he's a lap dog; Racket the 16 year old Afghan who only eats jerky in the morning; Sugar the 16 year old Chienese Crested who loves to smile despite having no teeth, and Eddie the 13 year old pug/spaniel cross who is described as "the best mistake ever."  Any owner with an elderly dog will absolutely love this book celebrating canine old age!  DB

Dog Owners - A Spotters Guide by Robbie Guillory (Freight Books £7.99)

What a shame we didn't receive this book for review before Christmas - as it's the perfect stocking filler.  Guillory has turned things about face by giving dogs an invaluable guide to spotting owners!  Accompanied by delightful line drawings, there is a  general descriptionof each owner as well as details of their temperament, gait and defects. My personal favourites are the fat and lazy Boomerang, the lone ranger Melancollie and the aristocratic Manor Born.  Did I spot myself?  Well ... that would be telling! JT

Dogs of Courage by Clare Campbell (LittleBrown £14.99)

This is a meticulously researched account of dogs conscripted to fight for their country during the Second World War.  At a time when the government were worried that dogs were devouring precious human rations and therefore contemplating a national cull, many owners donated their beloved pet dogs to the war effort; others were taken from rescue centres.  The dogs ended up in many different countries carrying out a range of different occupations - eg as messengers, bomb sniffers, guard dogs.  Tragically many never returned but those that did often quickly resumed life with their owners as though their war experiences had never happened! There is a lot of fascinating detail here which may deter some looking for a light read but personally I found this book deeply moving.  DB                                                                                                                    

The Forever Puppy by Deborah Bragg (available from Amazon and Canine Behaviour Centre, £5.99 paperback, £2.99 ebook and £2 pdf)

Many of you will have met Beau, the flatcoated retriever puppy, from his blog on this website.  Now Deborah has published his blog in this enchanting book.  Beau starts off like any eight week old puppy,  finding his paws in his new home and persuading his housemate Rosco to play with him. But this determined, self-willed pup soon decides that he doesn't always want to do what he's told. What a bundle of mischief - and challenge for his experienced owner!  It becomes a battle of wills between the two of them - but I won't spoil it by revealing who wins!  There are so many dog books out there but The Forever Puppy stands head and shoulders above the rest.  It is beautifully written, includes many useful training tips as well as a very honest analysis of the dog-owner relationship.  I also learned a lot about the flatcoat breed. The Forever Puppy would make a brilliant present for any dog lover but especially somebody who is thinking of getting a puppy or has just acquired one.  And the fact that you can buy the book with a personal dedication from Deborah would make it an even more special gift.  Gillian Manning - guest reviewer

Dogs As I See Them by Lucy Dawson (HarperCollins £16.99)

Lucy Dawson was a renowned dog artist of the thirties (no, I hadn't heard of her either) and this is a facsimile edition of her now very collectable classic. It is a lovely collection of sketches, mostly of small breeds like terriers and pekinese, with her notes about each while they posed for her.  My personal favourite is Billy, the golden retriever who "suffers fools gladly but he's very difficult to get to know."  It's a gorgeous book that would delight any dog lover as a gift - but also appeal to the increasing number of amateur and professional dog artists.  DB

Golden Retrievers by Elana Rose (Crowood £19.95)

Golden Retrievers are one of the most photogenic breeds so this book should come with a warning!  If you hadn't already contemplated buying one, the glorious photos in this book will soon convince you...  Even the golden oldies are positively mouth watring! As with all the books in Crowood's Practical Guide for Owners and Breeders series, this book covers every single aspect of dog ownership you could possibly need to know: from the history through to caring for the puppy to showing to working to health issues to breeding.    A really comprehensive guide to this engaging and popular breed.  AH                                                                                                                                              

Stand! by Trish Haill (Crowood £19.95)

Showing has never interested me - partly because I am the most uncompetitive person you're ever likely to meet and partly because I feel positioning paws just so and holding the head up and the tail out is unnatural and undignified.  I also have concerns that dogs are bred for looks rather than temperament.  So I was pleased to review Stand! to see if I was missing out.  Trish Haill has written an honest and comprehensive book on showing.  I'd never realised there was so much involved, let alone heard of terms like "stacking."  She covers absolutely everything you could possibly want or need to know on the subject in a very readable style.  Did it change my mind?  No - but I can understand how showing could become a full time "hobby" for others.  If your dreams involve lifting the Crufts trophy then this book is a must - if only to let you know just what you are letting yourself in for.  DB                                                                    

Complete Training for the Working Spaniel
by Graham Gibson (Crowood £19.95)
I have been training spaniels up to field trial standard for very many years so when Deborah Bragg invited me to review this book, I was only too pleased - you can never have too many gundog books on the shelf in my opinion! Gibson covers every aspect from choosing the puppy to basic training (it's interesting that he uses an extending/flexi lead and doesn't start training the puppy until it is between 10 and 12 months old), to teaching hunting and retrieving and then on to advanced work beating and picking up and finally competition standard. Yes, it is a largely aimed at spaniels but there is much in the book to interest those looking to train retrievers too. He writes in a clear, very readable style (he obviously has a great sense of humour: his dedication at the beginning is one of the best I've ever read!) with lots of helpful photos. And he has plenty of advice on what to do when it doesn't quite go to plan... This is a superb book that any spaniel owner would enjoy - the only problem for me is that Deborah wants it back so I shall have to buy my own copy! JT

Working Gundogs
by Martin Deeley (Crowood £19.95)
As someone who is in the process of training her wayward flat coat to the gun, I was delighted to be able to review this book in the hope of finding some valuable tips. Deeley starts by looking at the different breeds, housing, basic training as well as the qualities required of the human before moving on to retrieval work. He writes well and there are lots of helpful photographs; my only complaint is the lack of advice on what to do when it doesn't go to plan. For example, my FCR is very keen to pick up the dummy but then drops it and wanders off in search of something more interesting! But if you are thinking of getting a gundog breed, this is a very informative, helpful book. Even if you don't want to work your dog on shoots, he would benefit enormously from the fun of controlled hunting and retrieving. Don't be put off by the foreword of Cesar Millan: as he readily admits himself, their philosophies, methods and approaches are very, very different. DB

One Hundred Ways for a Dog to Train its Owner
by Simon Whalley (Hodder & Stoughton £5.99)
A fan of Beau's Blog sent me this absolutely gorgeous book because she felt that my irrepressible flat coat could probably have written it! The first little gem neatly sums up the rest: "Humans like to think we are pack animals, looking for a leader. How wrong they are. Little do they realise that it is the family who are the pack, as it is they who end up running their lives around us." Others that I loved are "When playing in the water, always retrieve the item your owner has thrown and drop it at their feet. As they bend down to pick it up again, remember to shake your coat vigorusly to expel surplus water in case they throw the item back in the water again! and "Always make sure you have more energy at the end of a walk than you did at the beginning. Believe me, humans love the futility of taking you for a walk to tire you out." Anyone who has ever tried to train their dog - or even if they haven't - will absolutely adore this little book. DB

Human Luchers as Pets
by Carol Baby (Crowood £14.99)
Most of us would recognise a lurcher but probably have difficulty defining it. This is because it is a type of dog rather than a specific breed, bred from a sighthound crossed with another working breed. Romanies have not only been breeding lurchers since the 16th century but they are responsible for their name: "lur" meaning thief and "cur" meaning mixed-breed dog. All this and a lot more I leaned from this excellent, well-written book. Baby covers everything you could possibly want to know about lurchers: their history, pros and cons, puppies and older adopted dogs, health care, basic training and problem solving. If you are even vaguely thinking of getting a lurcher, this book is an absolute must - and because it is so comprehensive, you won't need any other! AH

Halo I'm Juno
by El and Juno Gleeson (9.99 euros from This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and as an ebook from Amazon for £1.99)
El Gleeson is a student of the Canine Behaviour Centre, a chaplain, devout believer in God and angels and owner of rescue dog Juno. This is a delightfully heart warming story of how El took on a dog that had once been beaten and restored his trust and confidence in the human race, learning a few hard lessons along the way. With each sale of the book, a contribution will be made to Bothar which ships cows to Rwanda and training programmes for young people in Limerick. PS

TRAINING Border Collies
by Barbara Sykes (Crowood £16.99)
I've never owned a Border Collie but during 20 years of living in Northumberland I have seen an alarming number as clients! This is a book written by somebody who is clearly very knowledgeable about the breed - but despite her undoubted passion I was pleased to see that she points out their tendency to obsessive behaviour. Much of what Sykes says applies to training any dog and I particularly like her Thinking Like Canines concept: building a partnership through co-operation and respect. I do think this is a book that any potential Border Collie owner should invest in - if only to ensure they pick the right colour and coat in the first place. It was news to me, for instance, that the short-coated Collie with darker eyes is inclined to retreat if feeling threatened, that softer-coated dogs can often be more timid than those with coarser coats, and that blue merles can be very excitable. DB

Dog Treats
by Christopher Matthew (Little Brown £12.99)

This is the kind of book you buy as a present for a dog owner - but read avidly yourself first! It's a marvellous assortment of doggerel, most of which are highly amusing although there is one very sad verse called War Dog about an IED-seeking Labrador. As a dog psychologist, I have to confess that my favourite is Scientific Experiments on Dogs that starts with the memorable lines: "I do think "dog psychologists" can talk a load of twaddle; / They seem to think that recognising how we think is a doddle...." Another that I loved was Gobbledogook. The last verse runs so: "They say that all dogs and their owners/ Can communicate perfectly well./I hate to be one of life's Jonahs/But communicate? Can they hell!" A

A Dog Called Homeless
by Sarah Lean (Harper Collins RRP £6.99)
I read this book myself first and found it utterly enchanting so I handed it over to an 11 year old niece of mine to see if she agreed - and she loved it too, reading it from cover to cover in one sitting. It's the story of a gril called Cally whose mother has died but she still "sees" her everywhere - although her grief stricken father and self absorbed brother assume she is making it up. Then a grey wolfhound starts following her around.... I won't say any more and risk spoiling the story. Lean has achieved the almnost impossible: to get into the head of a young girl and make her thoughts and feelings believable. It's a book that both adults and children will love - with a special underlying message that the most unlikely friends can heal pain. PS

Gundogs - Their Past, Their Performance and Their Prospects

by David Hancock (Crowood RRP £25)
This is a gorgeous book that should be mandatory reading for every existing and potential owner of a gundog breed. Lavishly illustrated with historic paintings, prints and photographs, Hancock looks back at early breeds before even the advent of the firearm: setting, net and water dogs. He looks at the development of the English breeds with which we are familiar nowadays as well as the arrival of foreigners such as the vizsla, German short, long and wire-haired pointers, spinone and weimaraner, many of which are growing in popularity to the detriment of English breeds. Consequently he worries about the future of some of our native gundog breeds; registrations for both Sussex and field spaniels have reached dangerously low levels. He criticises the Kennel Club - justifiably in my opinion - for failing to insist on parental health checks before registering litters and for emphasising fashion over function in the show dog. (The picture of a show Irish setter next to the field version makes this point with painful clarity). The gundog breeds tend to have good temperaments (although, contrary to popular belief, the labrador and red-gold cocker top the league for unwanted aggression) so are often recommended as the perfect companion pet dog. But Hancock points out that these breeds were bred for working ability, not as hearth rugs. Is it fair, he asks, to have a gundog that will never be required to fulfil its spiritual need to work in the field? As the owner of working flat coats, I would agree with this 100%: my dogs make first class companions but there is nothing that raises my spirits more than to see them in hot pursuit of a partridge or pheasant and retrieving it to hand. This is a book that you will dip into again and again and make you think long and hard: put it on your Christmas wish list now! DB

Dogs of the Shepherds - A Review of the Pastoral Breeds
by David Hancock (Crowood, RRP £25)
As a long-time lover and owner of pastoral breeds, I was delighted to be offered this book for review. Hancock has compiled an absolutely fascinating book of the world's different pastoral breeds and their original working roles, accompanied by many historic and unusual photos. He differentiates between sheepdogs and shepherd dogs and sub-classifies the many breeds into protectors and herders. He regrets the fashion for forgetting the original purpose of these dogs (the photo of two working Old English Sheepdogs in the late 1930s is priceless), the current emphasis on looks rather than purpose, and the perils of over-popularity. For example, over 8,000 German Shepherd registrations a year and an increase from three Bearded Collies in 1951 to nearly 2,000 in 1989. (The photograph of today's Bearded Collie bears little resemblance to the enchanting fellow in a picture from 1902). He quite rightly warns too of the dangers of importing highly protective, independent-minded breeds from remote corners of the world to become urban pets overnight. But I was pleased to see that he does not include my particular favourite, the Leonberger, in this warning; instead recognising them as the gentle, selfless giants they are! This book is not cheap but it is a riveting read and beautifully produced. If you were wondering what to give a friend with a pastoral breed, you need look no further! AH

Judy A Dog in a Million
by Damien Lewis (Quercus, RRP £18.99)
We all like to think our dogs are "one in a million" but this extraordinary English pointer truly was. Furthermore, she survived more traumatic lives than even a cat could! Judy started life in 1936 in English-run kennels in Shanghai, bred to work as a gun dog. But that was not to be. Instead she found herself aboard a Royal Navy gunboat, patrolling the Yangtze river against the Japanese. Her relatively peaceful life aboard came to an abrupt end when the ship she was on was torpedoed but Judy excelled herself saving survivors. Matters turned worse when Singapore fell and Judy and her crew were taken prisoner - and she became World War 2's only canine prisoner of war. Incredibly the Japanese, though sorely tempted, did not shoot and eat her; instead Judy more than earned her place with her fellow POWs by keeping their spirits high as they suffered from the suffocating jungle heat, over work and starvation as well as scavenging for food for them all. I'm not spoiling the story when I say there was a happy ending: Judy was justly awarded the Dickin Medal and ended her life at the ripe old age of 14 with her last besotted owner in Tanzania. Despite Lewis's frequently sloppy style and tendency to invent not only Judy's perceptions but words of her human crew and fellow prisoners (survivors were notoriously reluctant to talk about their appalling experiences in war-torn Japan so one can't blame Lewis for this) this is a story that is guaranteed to tug the heartstrings. It's also a fascinating historic insight into that often-forgotten, other hell railway in Sumatra. (Note to publishers: a map of the area in a subsequent re-print would be really helpful). DB

Life with Beau: a Tale of a of Dog and his Family
by Anna Quindlen (Random House, kindle £6.99)
I simply had to read this not only because of my new puppy called Beau but because I am a fan of Quindlen's fiction. But oh! what a disappointment. For a start, you can read the "book" in 10 minutes; it would be more accurate to describe it as an article so I am amazed that anybody thought it had sufficient merit to publish as a book. (True, it has got some cute photographs). But we readers don't really learn anything at all about Beau except that he was a typical greedy Lab who escaped when he could. In fact, it concentrates more on his slow deterioration rather than his life and, in my opinion, Quindlen kept him alive long after it would have been kinder to put him down - although in fairness to her, she does admit this. Very disappointing: stick to fiction Quindlen! DB

A Dog Called Dez
by John Tovey with Veronica Clark ( John Blake. RRP £12.99)
This is the true story of a boy who could not seem to stay out of trouble, spending time in a young offenders institute and prison, and ingesting vast quantities of drugs and alcohol. Then he developed diabetes and at the age of 42 lost his sight, almost overnight. He raged with anger and bitterness at the unfairness, convinced his life was over. Finally he squashed his pride and sought help, and thanks to the charity Guide Dogs for the Blind was introduced to a black Labrador called Dez. Dez saved John's life in more ways than one but he is no perfect guide dog – with a Labrador's predilection for food, especially children's lollipops! This is a heart warming story that will undoubtedly help swell the coffers of the charity but if you are looking for a book that is mostly about Dez, then you will be disappointed as you will have to wait until page 191 before his story really gets under way. Dez apart, it is an interesting story of a vicious cycle of aggression and repeat offending – perhaps a parable for our times? PS

Ordinary Dogs – A Story of Two Lives
by Eileen Battersby (Faber and Faber. RRP £7.99)
If you only ever buy one book about dogs, make this the one! On one level this is just an autobiographical story of how two mongrels brought chaos and happiness to the author's somewhat solitary life. But what raises this far above being just another "me and my dogs" book is Battersby's almost poetical writing. She is supremely honest and self deprecating about her shortcomings with humans and offers invaluable insights into the way her dogs behave and interact with their owner. The first, Bilbo, she practically abducts from the pound with an enviable insouciance; whereas the second, Frodo, determinedly adopts her. Battersby comes across as delightfully eccentric – "being accused of having married my dogs did not bother me" – and one is left with the impression that Bilbo and Frodo were two very lucky dogs indeed. DB

Sophie Dog Overboard
by Emma Pearse (Hodder. RRP £8.99)
If you're contemplating taking your dog out on a boat trip, this book may make you think again! One day Australian couple Jan and Dave Griffiths decided to take their cattle dog Sophie out on a boat trip rather than leave her home alone. As they made their way out to the ocean, Sophie stood up enjoying the spray, tail wagging and clearly enjoying herself. That maiden voyage was a success so Sophie accompanied the couple on all their subsequent boat trips. Then one day, she disappeared overboard. They circled the boat for several hours, calling her name but there was no sign of the dog. She had vanished. Incredibly – in my opinion – they did not notify the authorities: the nearest land was over three miles away and there were the dangers of stingrays and sharks so they assumed she had drowned and hoped it was quick. They abandoned the search and joined some friends for a meal, never mentioning their loss, eventually returning home. I won't spoil the story by revealing the ending; suffice it to say it is an extraordinary, almost unbelievable tale. It's a good read, only spoilt by the less than brilliant writing. AH

Do Dogs Dream?
by Stanley Coren ( WW Norton. RRP £9.99)
I have long been a fan of the Canadian psychology professor, Stanley Coren, and would urge any dog lover to read his books. His latest is a very readable little tome. In it he poses – and attempts to answer – the many questions he has been asked in nearly 50 years as a canine researcher. It's a very entertaining book that would make the perfect present for any dog owner, especially a new one. I don't know who thought of the title but personally I think it is the most boring question in the book because most of us know the answer: yes. The book is subdivided into sections on how dogs perceive the world, whether they really think and have feelings, how they communicate and learn, whether there is something special about puppies and old dogs – and what your dog would like you to know. For me, some of the most interesting questions are Do dogs understand what they see on television? Can dogs laugh, know mathematics, have a sense of music? Why do dogs sniff crotches (a far more eye catching title)? Why do dogs touch noses? If a dog licks my cut will it heal faster? Coren's fascinating and often amusing answers are based on his own and others' research, dispelling quite a few common myths along the way. DB

War Dog
by Damien Lewis (Sphere. RRP £12.99)
This is the true story of an orphan German Shepherd puppy which was found abandoned in no-man's land by a Czech pilot in 1939. Robert Bozdech hid Antis, as he came to be called, in his jacket as he made his escape across France and eventually to Britain. Here the Czech became a gunner in Bomber Command and Antis and he flew many missions over Germany in a Wellington called Cecilia. Both were wounded and eventually Antis was grounded for medical reasons – much to his chagrin. This is the very moving tale of an extraordinary bond between human and canine (only spoilt at times by some dubious grammar and a bit too much anthropomorphism for my taste!). DB

Titus Rules OK
by Dick King-Smith (Random House. RRP £4.99)
In memory of my beloved flat coat Titus who died in October, a friend gave me this delightfully funny book for Christmas. It's the story of a young corgi puppy growing up in Windsor Castle. Thanks to his personality and heroic deeds, Titus soon becomes the Queen's favourite and is allowed to sleep on her bed! Dick King-Smith is a superb children's writer and this would make an enchanting present for any child - or simply those who are young at heart. DB

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