Companion Animal Psychology Book Club August 2021

“I love Wesley the Owl! Not since Konrad Lorenz have I read such
an honest, vivid, and revealing account of the rich and complex life of
an individual bird.”–Sy Montgomery.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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This month’s choice for the Animal Book Club is Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. 

From the back cover,

“On Valentine’s Day 1985, biologist Stacey O’Brien adopted Wesley, a baby barn owl with an injured wing who could not have survived in the wild. Over the next nineteen years, O’Brien studied Wesley’s strange habits with both a tender heart and a scientist’s eye—and provided a mice-only diet that required her to buy the rodents in bulk (28,000 over the owl’s lifetime). She watched him turn from a helpless fluff ball into an avid com­municator with whom she developed a language all their own. Eventually he became a gorgeous, gold-and-white macho adult with a heart-shaped face who preened in the mir­ror and objected to visits by any other males to “his” house. O’Brien also brings us inside Caltech’s prestigious research community, a kind of scientific Hogwarts where resident owls sometimes flew freely from office to office and eccentric, brilliant scientists were extraordinarily committed to studying and helping animals; all of them were changed by the animals they loved. As O’Brien gets close to Wesley, she makes astonishing discoveries about owl behavior, intelligence, and communication, coining the term “The Way of the Owl” to describe his noble behavior. When O’Brien develops her own life-threatening ill­ness, the biologist who saved the life of a helpless baby bird is herself rescued from death by the insistent love and courage of this wild animal.”

Wesley the Owl is available in all good bookstores and from my Amazon store: https://www.amazon.com/shop/animalbookclub

The book club is for subscribers to the Companion Animal Psychology newsletter. Anyone can sign up and it’s free. The intro emails tell you where to find the group and the passcode so you can join. 

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy, winner of the Maxwell Medallion for best book (behaviour, health or general care) from the Dog Writers Association of America. She is the founder of the popular blog Companion Animal Psychology, and also writes a column for Psychology Today. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two cats.

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