Are you ready for some Puppies?!

The Super Bowl means one thing to me: PUPPY BOWL! Why would I want to watch men run into each other aggressively when I can watch puppies roll around together adorably?! This year’s Puppy Bowl VI airs Feb. 7 on Animal Planet at 2 pm central time , and it is going to be awesome–Animal Planet has just announced that in addition to the playful Kitty Halftime Show, there will also be Bunny Cheerleaders and a Hamster Camera Crew! Can’t wait for all the action? Head on over to Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl website and you can check out the Puppy Starting Line-up (so far my pre-game favorites are Bandit, Kiva and Fava), play puppy puzzle games, learn how to adopt and care for a puppy, and meet the equally adorable Puppy Bowl Ref:

It is nice to know that no matter what happens in the Super Bowl, the puppies always win!

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

homers-odysseyHomer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper is a closely observed tale of a tiny black kitten who lost his sight early in his life.

Beginning his life as a stray in South Beach, Homer’s eyes became so infected that his eyes had to be removed when he was eventually rescued and treated by a vet. The vet, after many failures, finds Gwen who instantly bonds to Homer, only a few weeks old.

His new owner has her own set of challenges, not only adapting her household physically (eliminating obstacles and clutter and padding sharp corners) but also integrating the  kitten with the two already ensconced feline inhabitants.

The author clearly adores the newest member of the family, but also studies Homer with a scientist’s eye for detail, as she works to understand the needs of her new kitten. She describes how his sense of hearing and touch compensate for his lack of sight.

Parts of the story are heartbreaking but Homer is the very essence of resilience. The author is careful not to attribute human attributes to her cats but obviously admires Homer’s bravery and his will to survive and thrive.

The book, Cooper says,  is written for “those who think that normal and ideal mean the same thing.”  They will come away with an appreciation of the “slightly left of…normal.”

Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives they Transform by Karin Winegar

We all know about the importance of adopting animals from the Humane Society; many of us may have a beloved pet at home right now that we rescued. Many of these animals have been abused or abandoned yet somehow they learn to trust and love again and they’re saved. But did you stop to think about the person that adopted them? They’re saved too, by unconditional love. Saved by Karin Winegar shows us, over and over, that not just the animals are saved – the lives of their human caretakers are changed too.

Most of the stories in Saved begin with sadness – irresponsible people that treat animals as disposable, leaving suffering and pain in their wake. But each story ends on an upbeat note because of the animals that don’t give up and the people who give them a second chance. You’ll meet Chance and Hope, two beautiful Great Pyrenees dogs who were found starving in a ditch, each with a shattered rear leg. Today theses gentle giants bring joy to the residents of a long-term care home in Minnesota. Walt Kuchler finds peace from painful memories when riding the mare he rescued from certain death. A program in Maricopa County, Arizona pairs jail inmates with rescued animals, teaching them responsibility and job skills (many find work as veterinary assistants or on local farms after being released) There’s the story of Cassidy, a stray cat that had been shot twice. At the last minute, veterinary technician Randi Golub spoke up and said she would take him. Today, Cassidy is a certified Pet Partner and regularly visits assisted living homes, bringing purrs and love to lonely residents.

These stories come from all over the country and involve all manner of animals – dogs, cats, horses, birds. The common thread in every story is that love, when given a chance, can heal any hurt.