Librarian suggests books for pet owners

Jan Johnston, who is in charge of selecting new books for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library system, column portrait taken Thursday April 21, 2011 in Vancouver, Washington. (Troy Wayrynen/The Columbian)

Jan Johnston, who is in charge of selecting new books for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library system, column portrait taken Thursday April 21, 2011 in Vancouver, Washington. (Troy Wayrynen/The Columbian)

By Jan Johnston
Published: October 30, 2016, 6:05 AM
Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.

Life at my house has been crazy and good this month. Crazy because my husband and I adopted a kitten and good because he’s so flippin’ adorable! Our fuzzy 3-month-old has been dubbed Dewey. (How could this nerdy librarian not name him Dewey? It’s kind of a requirement.) And in less than three weeks he has assumed full control of the Johnston household. This does not sit well with our other cat, Gracie, but she is becoming wise to his ways and exerts a firm parental-like paw when necessary. Despite Gracie’s irritation, we can tell that Dewey Dactyl (he has extra toes which raises the cute factor to the power of infinity) will be a fun if somewhat annoying companion for our mature cat-girl, so kittenhood is worth enduring — for all of us.

Perhaps you or someone you know is in the throes of raising a kitten or a puppy, or maybe you’re just in the “thinking” stage of pet adoption. Caring for a pet can be a wonderful, fulfilling experience, but it should never be taken lightly. Animals, like humans, need the basics — food, water, shelter — but they also need attention and love and health care (and by the way, furry kids won’t be covered under your family’s medical plan; a travesty, to be sure).

If your family has made the commitment to raise another species under your roof, bravo to you, and may I recommend a trip to the library to read up on the care and feeding of furry, feathery or scaly companions. We have oodles of information about caring for pets, so do your current and/or future pet-kids a favor and get informed. A well-placed litter box or a vet-approved chew toy will go a long way toward creating a happy coexistence between man and beast — no matter the species.

• “The Complete Cat’s Meow: Everything You Need to Know about Caring for Your Cat,” by Darlene Arden. Watch out, Dewey. With the help of this book, and Gracie’s vast experience as a cat, we’ll rein in your cuteness in no time. Not.

• “Dinner Pawsible: A Cookbook of Nutritious, Homemade Meals for Cats and Dogs,” by Cathy Alinovi. I haven’t ventured into the world of homemade cat food, but I know what to read if I do. Or, maybe I can teach Dewey how to make his own food. Right.

• “Giggle’s Guide to Caring for Your Gerbils,” by Isabel Thomas. In this kids’ nonfiction book, a gerbil named Giggle helps youngsters learn the ABC’s (and G’s!) of raising gerbils. Dewey doesn’t even know what a gerbil is, but he told me that he loves them. He’d love them to death, I’m afraid.

• “Kids Top 10 Pet Reptiles and Amphibians,” by Ann Gaines. In my world, reptiles and amphibians belong outside, but in your world, you might have to indulge your little one’s desire to bring the outdoors in. Take a deep breath and keep that aquarium tightly sealed. Sorry, Dewey — no snakes for you.

• “Learning to Care for a Bird,” by Felicia Lowenstein Niven. Another children’s pet guide but this time for families ready to embrace a winged friend. Dewey keeps trying to invite a couple of chickadees into the house (by way of paw signals through the bedroom window), but no luck so far.

• “My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts,” by Laura T. Coffey. Adopting an older pet pretty much guarantees you a seat in heaven, in my opinion, so please keep the older guys and gals in mind when considering a new pet. Our 8-year-old cat, Gracie, probably wishes for a calmer, more mature cat pal, but truth be told, she’s pretty smitten with kitten Dewey.

• “Puppy Bible: The Ultimate Week-by-Week Guide to Raising Your Puppy,” by Claire Arrowsmith. If you’re a puppy parent right now, bless your heart. I’ll bet life is crazy and good for you, too, and maybe slightly out of control. A bit of puppy-raising wisdom might come in handy for frazzled owners, so consider spending some quiet time (if you have any!) reading the “Puppy Bible.” No puppies for me, though. Wrestling with wiggle-worm Dewey and all his extra toes keeps me dog-tired as it is.

Jan Johnston is the collection development coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.