I read. A lot. And a lot of odd things. Glancing over at the nearby table, I see a book on prenatal testosterone, one on horsemanship, and still another is a dark, disturbing astounding novel. Plus current issues of science, horse and other magazines.

But here are four books I can highly recommend:

  • The Thinking Dog by Gail Fisher
  • Energy Work by Nicole Wilde
  • Speaking for Spot by Nancy McKay DVM
  • Horse Boy by Issac Rupertson

I am not much of a reviewer, so I won't pretend to offer anything except my feelings about these books, all of them wonderful in their own way.

THE THINKING DOG by Gail Fisher is a wonderful book for those who would like to know more about clicker training, who may come from a more traditional dog training background, and who appreciate clear sensible writing. Nicely detailed, full of real life experience & examples, written by a trainer who continues to evolve in her appreciation of dogs and ever richer training methdologies, The Thinking Dog has a lot to offer trainers of any denomination. Fisher does a great job of avoiding the trap of drowning the reader in operant conditioning lingo, but does offer a wealth of ideas, step-by-step instructions, and the depth of her background & knowledge shines through. Available at

ENERGY WORK by Nicole Wilde is a lovely primer on the ways that anyone can learn to use their hands, their minds, their intent and their love to offer comfort, support and healing for their animals. Written in Wilde's clear, concise style, this is a guide to an area that intrigues many. Wilde's immense respect for animals, and for the animal/human relationship and its many aspect shines clearly, as does her experience in using a variety of touches and techniques to soothe, support and help animals, whether they may be in crisis, afraid, hurt, facing death, or just to add some loving balm to any day. An excellent launching point for an exploration of energy work. Available at

SPEAKING FOR SPOT is a must have for all pet owners. Dr. Nancy McKayhas written a clear, compassionate and utterly sensible book on how to be an appropriate advocate for your dog (works for other pets too!). Covering the span of a dog's life, SPEAKING FOR SPOT helps the reader understand how to be the voice for your pet, how to balance the respect for expertise with a need for critical thinking and clear judgement when an "authority" tells you to do x, y or z. Above all, McKay shows readers how to move with assurance through many areas of life when a dog needs an advocate as well as the best possible care & choices on his behalf. Belongs on everyone's shelf! Available at

HORSE BOY is perhaps one of the greatest love stories I have ever read. It is not for everyone, and some will find it very disturbing. It is the story of a father (the author Rupert Issacson) and his autistic son. Issacson notices that his son's sometimes severe behavior issues are altered by interactions with horses. By an unusual interweaving of experiences and opportunities, he sets off for Outer Mongolia (really truly, not the allegorical!) and the horses and shamans of the Mongolian steppes. Anyone who has taken even a brief vacation with a child will be staggered by the story of the man and his wife who undertake this long, difficult journey for adults -- and does it with an often violent, fecally incontinent, behaviorally volatile autistic 7 year old. It is a story of faith, of love, of dedication, and a willingness to trust an intuition when "sense" says otherwise --- and when sensible responses and options have failed. For those who understand the power of horses (and other animals to heal), for those willing to examine the notion that despite our Western diagnoses, there are many other ways to understand (and address) diseases and conditions, for those willing to be cracked open to feel even a small bit of the complex blend of love, fear, faith, hope, frustration, anger and soaring joy --- for those readers, HORSE BOY is wholeheartedly recommended. Available at your favorite bookstore or online.

With seasons turning here in the Northeast, blankets, hot tea, a sleepy cat and some dogs dozing around me calls for a pile of new books to be savored and explored.

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Author Suzanne Clothier


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