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Sunday, July 30, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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RANNY GREEN

`Animal Communicators Tell You How': New volume tackles many tough questions

Times pet columnist

Go ahead, prove it! Show me you can do it!

Being a skeptic and a newspaper reporter, I approached "You Can Talk to Your Animals: Animal Communicators Tell You How" with uncertainty.

I have nothing against these communicators. It's just that I'm not convinced they can read my pets' minds - long distance.

But the compelling new volume by Janine Adams (IDG Books Worldwide/Howell Book House, $14.99), a friend whom I've always considered sane, has me questioning my built-in prejudice on the subject.

So what exactly is animal communication? Telepathy is simply the pictures and feelings behind the words we speak, says communicator Dawn Hayman of Clinton, N.Y., one of 11 interviewed by Adams. "Every time we speak, we send a telepathic message," adds Hayman. "Animals are open to receiving these, whereas we who rely on verbal communication, close off those channels."

The purpose of this vigorous, careful presentation, explains the author, is "to help you learn how to open yourself up to receiving those telepathic messages - and how to trust them."

But Adams cautions, "Americans are always wary about being ripped off. Our fraud radar is very sensitive. We're always on the lookout for someone trying to take our money. Thanks to the proliferation of psychic hotlines that you can call for a fee, many people greet the idea of telepathic animal communication with skepticism. Initially, I, too, had strong doubts."

Adams carefully dissects the mechanism of the profession, which numbers between 100 and 200 professionals in the United States. In the process, she focuses on how it can be utilized to strengthen your relationship with your pet, learn about its history, solve behavioral problems, discover what ails it, finding lost pets, learning when to let go and communicating with departed pets.

The letting-go section is particularly intriguing. "Time and again," emphasizes Adams, "communicators have told me that animals don't share the fear of death that humans harbor."

"They understand the cycle of the universe," explains communicator Nancy Mueller of Freehold, N.J., "and know that death is the beginning of a new cycle."

"I have not had an animal yet who was afraid of dying, once it was explained to them," adds Patty Summers, an Evington, Va., communicator. ` "Animals tend to hang on for the people, not for themselves," believes Gail De Sciose, a New York City communicator.

Despite my cynicism, I found Adams' unvarnished portrayal fresh and witty, and yes, illuminating. But I have to say, I'm still skeptical.

"Dog-Friendly Dog Training" by Andrea Arden. IDG Books Worldwide, Inc./Howell Book House. $17.95.

I'm always hesitant to pick up a new book on dog training. It's not like there's a paucity of them out there on the shelves of pet supermarkets and major book stores.

Arden agrees, but adds, "An incredible rediscovery has been made in the field of dog training. Training your dog is fun. And better yet, the more fun you and your dog have while training, the faster and more effective training becomes."

Reward-training is the focus throughout and it is complemented delightfully by Tracy Dockray's colorful illustrations.

"Rewarding your dog for being right is undoubtedly easier and more effective than punishing him for being wrong," says Arden. "Moreover, you can speed up the process by responsibly managing your dog's life to maximize the likelihood your dog will be right. This way, much of the training becomes effortless, errorless learning and the need for harsh correction or punishment is simply unneccessary. Simple and smart."

Arden sets out tools to help you teach and follows that with chapters on house training, improving your dog's social life, basic manners, addressing behavior problems and a resource guide.

The tendency when correcting a dog is to admonish it loudly or jerk it sharply on lead. Conversely, Arden, director of the Manhattan Dog Training & Behavior Center, says, "Dogs obviously enjoy reward training. They love praise, petting, toys, treats and all the fun and games. Better yet, in no time at all, dogs come to enjoy the actual training activities."

"Puppies For Dummies" by Sarah Hodgson. IDG Books Worldwide. $19.99.

How often do emotions take over when one is looking for a puppy? No homework, just a seat-of-the-pants quick decision at a pet shop or kennel to purchase one of these cute, cuddly creatures.

But, guess what? They grow up like we do, only considerably quicker. One day they're in their Terrible Twos and year later they leap forward to the Terrible Teens. That, of course, is what happens when emotion overrides common sense.

Without planning, lifestyle compatibility and a sound early training regimen, that onetime puppy you couldn't resist is suddenly running the household.

Hodgson, a highly respected Bedford, N.Y., trainer, approaches puppy selection and training from a first timer's perspective, posing all the right questions and offering common-sense answers that are easy to grasp.

The author establishes early: "Here's what I assume about you.

"You know that puppies have four paws and a tail - or at least a stump of one.

"You either have a puppy right now or are considering getting one, but you don't know the first thing about raising a puppy.

"You don't want to become a Ph.D. in training techniques and dog physiology. You just want the basics on things, like what supplies to buy, how to train a puppy, the best dog food to use and how much exercise to give him."

She delivers first class on all fronts.

"Working Dogs: Tales From Animal Planet's K-9 to 5 World" by Colleen Needles. Random House, Inc. $15.95.

Twenty-seven representatives of a wide assortment of breeds are featured in this delightful photo essay. You'll meet Sammy the roofer, Kersee the public-relations executive, Nicky the drug-enforcement agent, Goldie the customs inspector, Lassie the television icon, Belle the farmhand, among others.

One of those featured is Hunter, the search-and-rescue specialist, from Kirkland. Hunter and his handler Bruce Speer with part of the elite Puget Sound Federal Emergency Management Agency task force flown in immediately following the Oklahoma City bombing several years ago.

But shortly after arriving, Hunter, a German shepherd, was called off the search, since he had been trained to search for living people only, and it quickly became clear there would be no survivors in the wreckage.

As a result, Hunter was put on stress patrol, meaning he was available for searchers who returned from rubble, for play, petting and a brief respite from anxiety and depression.

Upon returning home, Hunter and Speer underwent cadaver training so they would not be unprepared the next time. Since then, Hunter has been involved in more than 100 searches and once helped his team find seven lost bodies in the ruins of an apartment fire.

"Dog Shows: 1930-1949." Edited by Eric Rachlis. Photos by Bert Morgan. Chronicle Books. $18.95.

For five decades, Bert Morgan and his son, Richard, who wrote the foreward, captured the events of high society on film.

One of their favorite subjects was dogs. But this compelling volume isn't just about pooches, which tend to be timeless in nature. The character of the time frame is reflected adroitly by stylish owners, handlers, judges and their wardrobes.

Literally, this is one for the ages.

"Dogs with Jobs: Working Dogs Around the World" by Merrily Weisbord and Dr. Kim Kachanoff. Pocket Books. $24.95.

A bit more detailed than the aforementioned "Working Dogs" by Random House, this captivating resource gives you the feeling of being in the hunt, on the farm, in the show ring, running the Iditarod, assisting a disabled partner, guarding a flock or on the lookout for smugglers on the South African coast.

If you doubted the canine's versatility, bravery and smarts, this compelling volume will make you a believer. Each riveting portrait features a descriptive work day with the subject and an interpretation of its psyche. In other words, why it excels at a particular task or job.

"The Book of the Greyhound" by Sue LeMieux. T.F.H Publications. $79.95.

If you've ever been owned by a greyhound, then you're hooked.

While a bit pricey, this colorful kaleidoscope covers plenty of ground, although not quite as quickly as its namesake.

There's very little new here, but the presentation is gorgeous and the author's expertise is evident throughout.

Inside you'll find breed history, standard, adopting a racing greyhound, living with a greyhound, the greyhound in the show ring, caring for a greyhound, collecting greyhound treasures, etc.

If you're a greyhound owner and already have a breed library started, this will make a handsome addition. If you know a friend with one, keep this in mind for a birthday or Christmas gift.

"The Veterinarians' Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs" and "The Veterinarians' Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats" by Martin Zucker. Three Rivers Press. $14.95 each.

Zucker, a longtime health writer, has called upon 34 of the nation's top holistic veterinarians for input in these superb guidebooks. One of the contributors is Dr. Tejinder Sodhi, who has practices in Lynnwood and Bellevue.

Hardly a day goes by where you don't read about the introduction of a natural health-care product or the success of another. But Zucker cuts to the chase with the help of experts to show you what combinations have had long-term successes, using a wide array of cases instead of an isolated one here and there.

The volumes begin with why there is a need for alternative veterinary medicine, followed by ill-health epidemic, the problem with pet food, making a switch to a better diet, feeding options, nutritional supplement, plus several alternative modalities, followed by a handy A-Z lineup of canine and feline problems and how to treat them with alternative approaches.

Major new show

The American Kennel Club and The Iams Co., manufacturer of Eukanuba Dog Foods, will sanction and sponsor, respectively, a major new dog show Dec. 12, 2001, in Orlando, Fla.

The event, which will be called the AKC/Eukanuba American Dog Classic, will be a nationally televised conformation invitational. To qualify, dogs must be ranked in the top 20 of their breed during the calendar year. Points to qualify will be calculated by a tally of total number of dogs defeated in each breed. Competition for junior handlers will also be offered.

Dogs will vie in best-of-breed and best-of-opposite sex categories, then proceed through the group level to the coveted best-in-show award.

The light-bulb joke

Here's a new version of the light-bulb joke, directed toward man's best friend:

How many dogs it take to change a light bulb?

Golden retriever: "The sun is shining, the day is young and you're inside worrying about a stupid burned-out light bulb?"

Border collie: "Just one. And then I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code."

Toy poodle: "I'll just blow in the border collie's ear and he'll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry."

Labrador retriever: "Oh, me, me! Pleeeeze let me change the light bulb. Can I? Can I? Huh? Can I?"

Chihuahua: "Yo quiero Taco Bulb."

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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