Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Recommended reading

A dear friend has shared a dear book: Give a Cat a Home: True tales of courage and survival. A diminutive 5" x 6 1/2," it's about the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London, and the animals it shelters and "re-homes" every year.

Published in 2008, the book was written and illustrated by Anna Danielle, who is also the author-artist behind Give a Dog a Home. It tells the stories of cats at Battersea and how they were helped, sometimes moving on to new loving homes as well. Charming and poignant.

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The differences between human and non-human animals seem to become more blurry every day. The Feb. 20 Time magazine cover story describes “friendship” – not between people, but between non-human animals. In “Friends with Benefits,” Carl Zimmer claims that “Humans aren’t the only species capable of forging true and lasting friendships. Animals do it too – and get many of the same rewards.”

A graphic with the article sketches how “different species experience friendship in different ways” – horses, dolphins and chimpanzees, for instance.

It’s heartening to think that (non-human) animals may be getting some of the benefits of friendship. Many of them live in a world where every friend helps and can make a difference.

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The January 23 New Yorker includes “Slow and Steady,” William Finnegan’s “Letter from Madagascar” about how a Manhattan hotel and restaurant owner is working feverishly to save an ancient species – the plowshare, “one of the rarest tortoises in the world.”

Finnegan describes the first plowshare he saw: “She was strikingly tall. Perhaps sixteen inches long, she seemed nearly as high, like a walking Hussar helmet. She had a curving spear of shell jutting out from between her front legs, under her chin. This spear. . . had once put someone in mind of a plow.”

Facing extinction in the wild, the plowshare is sought after by collectors as well as scientists and others who want to breed the tortoise – not an easy task.

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To read more about animals, please visit www.nj.com/pets.

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