Vint Virga is a distinguished practitioner and leader in veterinary behavioral medicine. He consults nationally on the care and well-being of animals with zoos and wildlife parks, private corporations, and professional organizations. In this intriguing book about the connections which draw animals and human beings together, he notes that nearly two out of three American families currently share their homes with pets. This amounts to an impressive 90 million cats, 74 million dogs, 151 million fish, 13 million reptiles, 16 million birds, and 24 million small mammals of sorts. In a recent survey most of the respondents said that if they were stuck on an island for the rest of their days, they would choose as a companion a dog or cat above a human being. The message is clear: we feel that pets listen and attend to our feelings better than family or friends do. And, of course, animals like us just as we are.

This is the positive side of human/animal relationships. Virga also writes about cats and dogs suffering from emotional pains as best they can. Some get well on their own whereas others have to be given pills to treat their stress. The best medicine for pets is real presence with them. Animals are highly sensitive to human beings who lavish attention and love upon them.

This is a winning work for all those whose lives have been deepened and enriched by soulful contact with their pets and other animals.