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WHAT ANIMALS TEACH US: Love, Loyalty, Heroism, and Other Life Lessons from Our Pets

Key Mary Hessler, Author, Mary Hessler-Key, Author
Key Mary Hessler, Author, Mary Hessler-Key, Author . Prima $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7615-3607-9
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"Written to raise the consciousness of humans about the contribution our companion animals make to our learning and growth," Hessler-Key's second book (after The Entrepreneurial Cat: 13 Ways to Transform Your Business Life) offers inspirational stories of meaningful pet-person interaction. Eight lessons (on playing, friendship, healing, etc.) are introduced in as many chapters, illustrated by vignettes, personal anecdotes and the occasional smidgen of research. Each chapter closes with a list of questions to ponder: "Pet Lesson #3: The Circles of Life," for example, asks readers to "imagine a dear pet from the past being at your side as you go through a difficult or transitional time in your life. How would your companion animal support you?" Hessler-Keys shows how pets have taught their owners about responsibility, generosity, faith and unconditional love—but there's not much news in that. This volume takes common knowledge—pets are good—and, with great consistency, transforms it into schmaltz—"Thanks to Skeezer's love and personality, Kathryn learned that each day should be enjoyed as if it were her last." Some pet owners might appreciate the many stories of loving dogs and supportive cats, but skeptics may wonder if it's really possible for a gerbil to gaze at her owners "with love and thankfulness," and they certainly won't be convinced by Hessler-Key's pat pronouncements. Lacking the simple pleasures of an "Everything I Ever Learned I Learned from My Cat" or the dedication to research that might befit a more serious study, this book is well-intentioned but ultimately disappointing. (Nov.)

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