‘Can I Be Your Dog?’ by Troy Cummings Is a Must-Have Picture Book for Dog Lovers


“Can I Be Your Dog?” by Troy Cummings is a book that should be on the shelf of every family who loves dogs. It’s an extremely touching story of a homeless dog who wants nothing more than a home of his own.

He decides to try to find a home by writing letters to the people who live on his street, Butternut Street. He starts with the nicest house on the street and explains in his missive that he is potty trained and has his own squeaky bone. He even offers to get along with their cat. They respond:

“Dear Arfy,
We’re so sorry, but you cannot be our dog. Our cat is, um, allergic to dogs. Good luck in your search!
The Honeywells”

Arfy’s face is sad as he reads the letter, but Arfy doesn’t give up. He writes a letter to the butcher lady offering to keep her floor clean. The illustration shows the mail carrier reading the letter as she walks up to the Chop Chop Butcher Shop to deliver the letter.

Each time Arfy writes a letter and the mail carrier delivers it, he is rejected. The last letter he sends is heartbreaking:

Dear last house on Butternut Street,
Can I be your dog? I see that your yard is full of weeds, and your windows are broken, and there’s a funny smell. But I’m not picky. Just lonely. Arfy

When the letter is returned to sender, the reader can see the return address. “Arfy, Soggy Box in the alley.” And Arfy cries. It’s raining and Arfy goes into his soggy box and sleeps there, alone.

But the next morning, there’s a letter waiting for Arfy! A letter with a pink sticker that says “to Arfy.” And unexpectedly, Arfy has a home of his own.

The story is lovely and kids will be rooting for Arfy to find some happiness. Depending on the age of the readers, a discussion might be had about how Arfy ended up alone and homeless. On the last page are some tips about helping a homeless animal. The suggestions include adopting a shelter animal, volunteering at a shelter, spaying or neutering pets, donating to a local rescue group, and helping find animal friends forever homes.

Cummings includes a curious dedication: “To the real Arfy.” Who is the “real” Arfy? Cummings explains:

“As for the “real Arfy” in my book dedication, it’s sort of a combination of two dogs in my life. Arfy’s name comes from a raggedy-old stuffed toy dog I had as a kid. And his heart comes from a real-life scruffy mutt who showed up at our house when I was about six years old. Those dogs and I had a lot in common: we loved to cuddle, we loved to play in the woods, and we all really needed a bath. I lost both dogs around third grade, and still have dreams about them. So this book is, in part, a little thank-you letter to those two puppies.”
Cummings goes on the share that he and his family are “big supporters of rescue…both in terms of the animals we live with, and by volunteering our time and money to helping our animal pals.”
Cummings must enjoy visiting schools to share his work because he commented on how much he loves seeing the dog and cat posters that students create when trying to help animals. In fact, he says, “Student-created dog and cat posters are pretty much my favorite thing ever.” He’s hugely impressed by students, especially those in elementary school, who donate their time and money to save animals.
So if you want Cummings to visit your school, a great incentive might be to have a fundraiser for a local rescue in his honor! He’d love it and the local rescue could probably really use the help!

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Random House Books for Young Readers, for review purposes.

‘The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig’ Is a Picture Book that Will Charm Readers Young and Old


“The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig” by Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter and Caprice Crane is illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld. It’s a lovely picture book about a pig who grew and grew — not only in size, but also in the hearts of those who love her.

Esther’s story is incredible. Adopted as a mini-piglet, she was nothing of the kind. An acquaintance called her adopters, two of the authors of the picture book, and said that she had a five-pound micro-piglet but couldn’t care for it. She explained that the piglet shouldn’t grow to more than 70 pounds. The adopters thought Esther would be like a third dog, but when they took Esther to the vet, he broke the news that Esther wasn’t a micro-piglet, but rather a commercial pig. The woman who gave them Esther wouldn’t answer messages.

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20 Dogs in Rural Florida County Shelter Urgently Need Rescue by March 20

sebring 3:20

There are 20 dogs at the Sebring, Florida county shelter who are scheduled to be killed on Tuesday if they are not rescued or adopted before then. The volunteers are desperately trying to spread the word so that no lives are lost. Please share their story and please see if any of these dogs might work with your rescue, should you have one. The volunteers are willing to help with transport and pulling the dogs.

Note that all the dogs have the comment that they need a slow introduction to other dogs and cats. This is because shelter workers and volunteers know that when adopters are rushed and impatient, the results can be bad, so dogs get returned to the shelter. There are proper ways to introduce new dogs into a household. The internet has lots of information — just Google it. But a dog needs time to decompress from the stress of being in a shelter with many, many other dogs. Just throwing a dog into a new environment without slow introductions is taking a huge risk. And when an adopted dog is returned to the shelter, often a second “owner surrender” at that point, the shelter often doesn’t give the dog much time to find a new home. Please, no matter where you adopt from, do some research. Ask questions and take lots of time.

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Young Florida Dogs Urgently in Need of Rescue By March 1


On Thursday, ten dogs at the Sebring Shelter in Florida will die unless they are adopted or pulled by rescue. Many of these dogs are still practically puppies. A few of the dogs should not go to homes with cats, including Ramsey, who is a volunteer favorite! Please read about them, share their story, and help them if you can. Pledging on their Facebook post helps rescues know that any medical needs will be covered. Please visit the Sebring Facebook page to see videos of the dogs, too.

Hammy is an incredibly sweet dog who arrived at the shelter horribly emaciated. He only weighs 36 pounds and he should be around 60 pounds. The volunteers say he’s sweet and happy. He certainly deserves a home where he will be fed and cared for, and where his love will be returned for the first time in his life. He’s only a year old.
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Ten Perfectly Poignant Picture Books for Valentine’s Day

It’s not too late to get the perfect Valentine’s Day present for your favorite picture book reader. Here are ten picture-perfect choices.

Dog lovers who are book lovers know that almost no one writes nonfiction dog books IMG_3995like Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, author of “Made for Each Other: Why Dogs and People Are Perfect Partners.” This small picture book is aimed at older picture book readers, although younger readers will love the beautiful photographs by William Muñoz. The book is filled with all the nonfiction features teachers love to teach, like Contents (Part One: A Perfect Partnership; Part Two: The Science of Love; and Part Three: Sharing Our Lives), Resources for Young Readers (books, websites and videos with more information), Source Notes and Additional Sources (a bibliography of resources used for the information in the book), and an Index. Within the book’s pages is information ranging from how dogs differ from wolves and how they may have parted ways in the past to how dogs help us now by being our best friends, guiding us, protecting us, providing us with therapy, and just loving us. It’s a beautiful, completely true love story. (Crown Books for Young Readers)

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‘A Place in the Wind’ by Suzanne Chazin Is a Timely, Action-Packed Mystery



With “A Place in the Wind,” Suzanne Chazin writes a mystery that is disturbingly timely as well as engrossing and fascinating because of the crime(s), the characters, and the plot. Although this book is the fourth in the series about Detective Jimmy Vega, reading this one without having read the previous novels did not leave this reader wondering much. In fact, as a stand-alone novel, it works amazingly well. The reader will not feel a need to read the previous novels, only, perhaps, a desire to learn more of the backstory on the main characters and a desire to read the other mysteries that Jimmy Vega has solved.

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Three Lovely Children’s Picture Books Celebrate Animals


Three wonderful picture books — each in its own way celebrating nature, the joys of a pet, and the companionship of animals.

“Please Please the Bees” by Gerald Kelley is the story of Benedict the bear. He loves honey and gets three jars of honey delivered to his lovely home each morning by bees. He eats his toast with honey, drinks his tea with extra honey, practices his violin, bakes his honey cake, knits, runs errands, and drinks one last cup of honey tea before bed. It’s a very fulfilling life until one morning there is no honey. The bees are on strike, and Benedict learns that sometimes, nature — and bees — need a hand. Clever illustrations provide hints of what is to come, with Benedict living in a house where the plants have all died.  Benedict and the young readers of this story learn about what bees need to produce honey, and all live happily ever after. The story is charming, humorous, and important. The illustrations are lovely in watercolor and other media, and the fact that the texture of the watercolor paper is used for much of the white space keeps the illustrations rich and engaging.

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‘Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better’ by Tracey Stewart


“Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live and How We Can Make Their Lives Better” by Tracey Stewart is not a new release, but it’s a perfect book to read for those who want a New Year filled with compassion, kindness and humane choices.

Stewart is lucky to be married to Jon Stewart because between them, they have the money to fund her passion — animals, animal rescue, and spreading the message of compassion for animals, humans, and the world around us. With this book, Stewart created an easy-to-read, beautifully illustrated book filled with facts about Stewart and her family, pets, and farm animals, and also filled with ways to make the world a better place for everyone.

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Sebring, Florida Dogs Have Until Monday to Find Rescue or Die


Some of the dogs written about in “31 Dogs Have Nothing to Be Thankful for; All will be Killed Before Thanksgiving” were rescued and others were given a reprieve until Monday the 27th. That’s the way it goes in small county shelters. If enough space opens up, the dogs who were going to die get additional time to find a home and leave the shelter alive. But that also means that there is a never-ending cycle of dogs who are urgently in need of rescue.

The dogs who are still in need of rescue are Brinds, Tony, Shyla, Arie, Derby, Bailey, Howze and Plumo. There are also a few new dogs.

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‘The Great Shelby Holmes Meets her Match’ by Elizabeth Eulberg Is the Second in the Clever Middle Grade Series


Shelby Holmes was introduced to readers in “The Great Shelby Holmes,” the first book in the series by Elizabeth Eulberg. In the second book, “The Great Shelby Holmes Meets her Match,” narrator John Watson brings to life another mystery that he and Shelby solve, and in the process gives the reader another view at the complicated genius of Shelby Holmes.

She’s a pint-sized fourth grader who has skipped two grades. Watson is a newcomer to New York City, and in the first book, Shelby shows him around the neighborhood. In this book, Holmes and Watson start school.

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31 Dogs Have Nothing to Be Thankful for; All will be Killed Before Thanksgiving


Update: Belle, Moon, Rosa, Parker, Silver, Pork Chop, Murry and Maggie (she wasn’t posted yet) have all been RESCUED by Bishop Animal Shelter,SPCA of Manatee County, Please honor pledges at www.bishopspca.org The volunteers at Sebring, FL say, “Thank you!!!!”

Tony was caught on camera with his tail mid-wag. He’s looking sweetly at the photographer with a gleam in his eyes, his body raised up as if hoping that the person taking the picture will stop and give Tony some affection. He wants it, desperately. And now Tony is one of many dogs who will be killed on Tuesday, November 21, unless he is pulled by rescue or adopted.

Tony isn’t petite or graced with curly locks. His nose doesn’t wrinkle up like a Boston Terrier’s. He doesn’t have a long plume of a tail like a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. In fact, Tony looks like many of the other dogs at this shelter. He’s a mix — that healthy blend of many breeds that gives the lucky ones longevity and few diseases and the unlucky ones death at the local county shelter.

While city and suburban shelters receive a mix of purebred dogs and mixes, rural county shelters like the Highlands County Animal Services get mostly mixed breeds, many of which look like pit bull mixes and hunting dogs. The shelter’s director tries to learn about the dogs and their personalities, but as with  most shelters, and especially small ones with few resources, dogs’ behaviors in shelters are often quite different from their behaviors in a home. That’s why responsible shelters advise adopters to take all animal introductions slowly and give new animals time to decompress and relax. (Read a great article about this here.)

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