There are many books that cover much of the same ground as Michele Lowell's "Your Purebred Puppy: A Buyer's Guide" ($22.50; Henry Holt and Company), but few that do it with such refreshing and commendable honesty.
When it comes to pet books, some publishers bend over backward to avoid offending pet store owners, who sell both books and animals and are not interested in carrying any book that advises pet buyers to shop elsewhere for a puppy. The furor over pet store puppies also has led to a lawsuit between the publishers of two books on dogs and the law, one that blasted puppy mills and one that did not.
Against such a background, Ms. Lowell's book stands out. Her section on choosing the right breeder is the best treatment of the subject I've ever read. Following Ms. Lowell's guidance will give a puppy buyer a good shot at ending up with a healthy, temperamentally sound pet.
Other chapters, including those on deciding to get a dog and on choosing a puppy from a litter, are competently done, as is the section analyzing some 160 breeds, including many rare ones.
In all, the book is a good reference source from an author and a publisher who care about both pets and honesty. "Your Purebred Puppy" won't turn up in many pet stores, but I hope it finds a home in most libraries.
Q: I've agreed to adopt the cat of a friend who's moving to another state. Both her cat and mine are spayed females. What's the best way to bring in the new cat?
A: The "Cornell Book of Cats" (Villard Books) suggests keeping the cats in different parts of the house at first, except at mealtime. Then, they should be fed in cages at opposite ends of the same room, with the cages brought closer together as the days go by. When the cats eat side by side without fuss, it's safe to place them together.
Q: We've just bought a purebred golden retriever puppy from a good local breeder. We know the dog's purebred, and we have the paperwork that the breeder gave us. We're not going to breed or show her. Is there any reason to bother to register her with the American Kennel Club? We never bothered to send in the papers on our Siamese cat, and it hasn't made a difference in the kind of pet she is.
A: You're absolutely correct in the assumption that paying a dog registry a few dollars isn't going to make one bit of difference in how good a pet your puppy will be. But there are other options for your puppy that should be considered.
While showing or breeding are the main reasons to register your Siamese, there are other competitions available to your dog, and you might want to leave those options open by sending in the registration slip.
Golden retrievers are always tops in obedience competitions, and after a series of beginning classes, you may want to add an obedience degree to your dog's name. Obedience trials are fun for both dogs and owners, and are especially useful in turning your pet into a well-mannered canine companion.
While it is possible for a purebred without papers to get a special registration to compete in AKC obedience trials, it's a little bit more involved a process than sending in the paperwork now. And since the AKC is tightening some rules -- including putting a time limit on registrations -- in an effort to slow down the puppy-mill trade, you might want to pop for the papers now.
Ms. Spadafori is a newspaper reporter and an animal obedience trainer in Sacramento, Calif. Questions about pets may be sent to her c/o At Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md., 21278