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This unusual, well-written, and insightful book explores the role of complex emotions and "human" feelings in animals. McMillan is a veterinarian with a special interest in the mind-body connection. His two primary concepts—the Comfort Zone and the four-part Pet Pleasure Principle—are designed to recognize the underlying feelings and emotions that fuel animal behavior and form the foundation for guiding their well-being. His explanations of feelings go beyond the simple instinct so often attributed as the cause of animal behaviors to prove that animals experience fear, loneliness, joy, grief, anticipation, and boredom. Increasing pleasure, including safety, and decreasing mental and physical discomfort are the goals of any animal, and should be of its owner, too. By using the quality-of-life factors McMillan defines with the help of veteran coauthor Lance, and his three-step program for mental wellness, pet owners will acquire powerful tools for keeping pets happy. Its successful blend of personal stories, lucid explanations, case studies, and specific problem-solving techniques makes this a standout in the crowded field of animal-care manuals. Lauren Roberts
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From Publishers Weekly
Unlocking the Animal Mind: How Your Pet's Feelings Hold the Key to His Health and Happiness McMillan, Franklin ISBN: 1-57-954880-6 Rodale Press Paperback $14.95 2004/10 Making the case that feelings-"comfort, pleasure, discomfort, and suffering"-are the only things that matter to pets, veterinarian McMillan demonstrates a variety of ways that pet owners can observe the impact of emotions on their pets' health and use such information to better the quality of their pets' lives. McMillan's conceptual keys to pet behavior are the "Comfort Zone," an animal's mental state in the absence of unpleasant feelings, and the "Pet Pleasure Principle" (with thanks to philosopher Jeremy Bentham), which describes an animal's choice of behavior based on what will bring it the most pleasure. Using numerous examples from his practice, he shows how these concepts work (and work together): feeling out of the Comfort Zone can be an "early-warning system that a potential threat exists," for example, while an animal back in its Comfort Zone will spend its energy seeking greater pleasure. A helpful chart entitled "Why Your Pet Ain't Misbehavin' " lists painful emotions a pet might experience (e.g., boredom, anxiety) and the undesirable behaviors such emotions often cause (e.g., howling, chewing furniture). McMillan's thesis is, he acknowledges, an "incredibly simple concept," and it probably doesn't deserve all the pages it gets, but those seeking greater connection with their pets will find it enlightening. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.