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Sunday, November 19, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Ranny Green

`Dog Painting: The European Breeds' a colorful overview of man's best friend

Pets columnist

When it comes to canine artistry, William Secord is one of the world's preeminent authorities.

So it only makes sense, that if a historical perspective of the species is to be written, the New York historian and art-gallery owner should be the author.

"Dog Painting: The European Breeds" ($79.50, Antique Collectors Club) is a regal panorama and historical overview of the premier European artistry of the species.

While well-financed purebred fanciers have long collected paintings, Secord says the past decade has seen the hobby appeal to the general public.

The mid-to late-19th century saw the emergence of three types of dog portraits: pet, sporting dog and purebred.

This authoritative volume focuses on each and is organized by groups--working and herding, hounds, toys and nonsporting, terriers, sporting in one chapter--and the European art world in another--Belgian, Dutch, German, Austrian, Danish, Italian, French and Great Britain.

Each painting is captioned with a plate number, artist name, subject, approximate date of creation, dimensions and detail about the subject.

The presentation captures the work of both noted and relatively unknown artists and leaves you drooling (pun intended) for one of their works--or at least a print.

From an entirely different perspective, the "For Dummies" manuals exude a profound sense of the obvious in a colorful, descriptive fashion that has become the touchstone by which everything relating to their subject's basics is measured.

And now they're entering the pet arena, just in time for the holidays.

Here's the lineup of canine offerings, each published by IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.,:

"German Shepherds For Dummies," by D. Caroline Coile; "Retired Racing Greyhounds For Dummies," by Lee Livengood; "Boxers For Dummies," by Richard Beauchamp; "Golden Retrievers For Dummies," by Nona Kilgore Bauer; "Labrador Retrievers For Dummies," by Joel Walton and Eve Adamson.

Each is $15.99 and includes a few caveats about the breed, different options for obtaining a dog, health-care suggestions, integrating the animal in your life, training tips and techniques, getting involved in obedience, conformation and agility, plus a resource guide.

This is new turf for IDG, but thanks to its purchase of the highly respected Howell Book House last year, the books measure up to each breed's standard marvelously.

If your breed is not included in this list of titles, don't despair, many others are on the way.

"Bailey Bymyside: Golden Lessons for Life" by Patricia Burlin Kennedy, with illustrations by Robert Christie. IDG Books. $14.99.

As a former golden retriever owner, I fell in love with this intoxicating tribute to the owner's soulmate.

Kennedy's text and Christie's illustrations are a rich mix, complementing each other in a playful, whimsical manner.

Kennedy says, "Bailey always seemed to know where she was needed. She instinctively turned her attention to whoever would benefit most from her compassionate brown eyes and wagging tail. When she succeeded in bringing a smile to a face or warmth to a room, her delight took the form of a full-body wiggle.

"Perhaps this was her most important lesson--the simple mercies, the easy smile or the gentle word that bring respite to both the giver and the recipient.

"... When we bring dogs into our lives, we do so with the apprehension that we will likely suffer their loss. Yet when we join our lives with theirs, the joy and life-affirming vitality which sustains this relationship transcends the sadness of the final farewell.

"In many ways, I imagine Bailey's life as an allegory for my own. As witness to the passing seasons of her life, I was blessed with an unforgettable guide and companion to show and share with me the mystery of life. I will continue to grace my life with the Baileys of this world. I have so much more to learn."

"The Dog: 100 Years of Classic Photography," edited by Ruth Silverman. Chronicle Books. $24.95. Publication date: Dec. 1.

The perfect gift for that dog-owning friend or relative, this fresh, witty presentation has something for everyone.

Silverman, associate curator at the International Center for Photography in New York from 1978 to 1984, is also editor of the award-winning "The Dog Observed: Photographs 1844-1988" (Chronicle Books), a Smithsonian traveling exhibition.

Photos range from a shot by Annie Leibovitz of Nicole Brown Simpson's Akita Kato in Laguna Beach, Calif., in 1995 to a touching Robin Schwartz documentation of a three-week-old pig nursing from a bulldog in 1994 in Torrington, Conn.

If those don't capture you, these will: a Robert Capa portrait of a soldier placing a puppy in his helmet in 1943 in Rome or Clemens Kalischer's 1950s photo of a youngster with his puppy on an apartment stairway in New York City's West Side.

"Old Dog's Guide for Pups: Advice and Rules for Human Training" by Allen Appel and Mike Rothmiller. St. Martin's Press. $11.95.

This refreshing little gem serves up a mix of free-spirited tips a caring Mom and Dad might pass to their offspring.

While it'll leave you laughing, it just might give you a bit of insight into why your four-legged friend acts like he does.

Here are a few nuggets of parental advice:

** "When given a new toy, make it your favorite for a few days. Then ignore it. A new toy will soon appear."

** "Play fetch with the ball until your human is exhausted. Never give up first."

** "Old dogs can learn new tricks, they just don't see any point to it."

** "Dog food is anything a dog decides to eat."

** "If it fits your mouth, it is food. Or at least it has food potential."

** "While your human is explaining to you why you shouldn't be eating something, try to look as if you care. It makes them feel better."

By now, you get the idea.

"Animal Blessings: Prayers and Poems Celebrating Our Pets" by June Cotner. HarperSan Francisco. $19.

It's no secret that our dogs and cats affect our emotional thermostat. Does it get any better than returning home to the fresh, witty greeting of a pet after a stressful day at the office?

But it's a two-way street. In the best of relationships both parties are appreciative winners.

And that's what this volume is all about--a celebration of the resourcefulness and resilience of our pets.

Here's a taste of what you'll find inside:

** "For me, a house or an apartment becomes a home when you add one set of four legs, a happy tail and that indescribable measure of love we call a dog." -- Roger Caras

** "The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog ... "When all other friends desert, he remains." -- George Graham Vest

** "Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job."--Franklin P. Jones

** "I have found that when you are deeply troubled there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source." -- Doris Day

** "Time spent watching a cat is not deducted from your span on Earth."--Richard Beban

** "It's nice to see a cat curled up with a good book. Sadly it is the book I want to read." -- ÃY. Max Valentonis

** "When I play with my , who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?" -- Montaigne 

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

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