THE ULTIMATE DOG BOOK. By David Taylor. Simon and Schuster. 240 pages. $29.95.
EVEN AT first glance, this coffee table edition by David Taylor seemed like a fitting read for this correspondent, as I am (he said modestly) the ultimate dog lover. And this is a book that celebrates dogs. Big dogs, little dogs, shaggy dogs, dumb dogs, smart dogs, over 100 international breeds and varieties.
The color photographs (by Dave King and Jane Burton) that accompany each full-page profile are stunning. Included in each profile is a detailed history of the breed along with a look at the breed's temperament, personality and physical characteristics.
Of the Saluki, for instance, Taylor writes: "This svelte and graceful dog is extremely fast and agile; the Bedouin of southern Arabia still use Salukis and falcons to capture prey such as gazelles and bustards. The Saluki hunts by sight, not by scent, and, with its blistering turn of speed, can run down virtually any game." I didn't know that; the ultimate dog lover was impressed.
Aside from the beautiful photographs and profiles, another outstanding feature of "The Ultimate Dog Book" is the extensive section on dog care, which offers practical advice on everything from choosing a breed and setting up a dog's diet to grooming, travel, training, showing and health-care.
VTC Taylor, a veterinary surgeon and the author of other books on both domestic and wild animals (including "You and Your Dog," "Zoo Vet: Adventures of a Wild Animal Doctor" and "My Animal Kingdom: One by One") has put together an entertaining and informative book about the superior pet.
Superior to the cat, I might add. Cats are basically evil little creatures with no personality and even less soul, content to stare cold-heartedly out the window and tear at the drapes when not engaged in trying to nip the finger of the nearest person or pluck out the odd eyeball or two of the nearest dog.
A cat -- and this has been well-documented in countless studies (although the specific names of these studies elude me just now) -- is more or less a time bomb waiting to go off.
And although "The Ultimate Dog Book" is a commendable effort, I'm obliged to report a serious character flaw in Taylor:
He also authored "The Ultimate Cat Book."
Kevin Cowherd writes a column for The Evening Sun.