Through his nationally syndicated pet column, radio programs, podcasts and television appearances, Steve Dale advises pet owners nationwide on everything from controversial pet legislation to calming an anxious cat.
I recently spoke with Steve about his new e-books, “Good Dog!” and “Good Cat!,” and he also shared his thoughts on other pet-related topics. Today’s post is about the books and Steve’s background; a future post will include his insights on some animal-related issues.
Written in Q&A format using questions from real-life pet owners, “Good Dog!” tackles topics such as dogs’ aggression toward people and other animals; training challenges; separation anxiety; excessive barking, jumping and chewing; cognitive dysfunction; and more.
“Good Cat!” also uses real-life examples, featuring advice on topics such as how to handle litter-box issues; feline anxieties; excessive scratching and other destructive behaviors; aggression toward other cats, dogs and people; and tips on adoption and training.
The books are a quick read, informative and often humorous. They’re available in electronic format only. For details, visit www.tmshub.com/good-dog-good-cat.
When I asked if there were any other books planned, such as “Good Rabbit” or “Good Ferret,” Dale said he’d like to do a fun book about some of the more unusual questions he’s gotten from readers of his column, such as whether hermit crabs will get along with one another if they have different sports-team logos painted on their shells.
Dale checked with experts on whether the logos are safe for the crabs, and was told that because the shells are permeable and need to “breathe,” the paint can soak through and could be bad for the crabs. Instead, Dale suggested using chopsticks to make goal posts on each end of the tank, and see which crab scores the most touchdowns.
Another reader wrote that his cat seems to get excited and paws at the big-screen TV, but only when certain musicians are on — especially Justin Bieber. Dale told the reader the cat has a new disease called “Bieber fever,” and there’s not much that can be done except to turn off the TV and distract the cat with a toy.
Dale also has a book in the works with Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, dacvb.org, for next year.
ABOUT STEVE DALE
Steve Dale is the author of the twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column “My Pet World” (Tribune Media Services), the host of nationally syndicated radio programs Steve Dale’s Pet World, The Pet Minute with Steve Dale; and Steve Dale’s Pet World on WLS Radio, Chicago. He’s also a contributing editor at USA Weekend.
Dale did not grow up with pets, but he always loved animals, read lots of books about them and watched National Geographic specials with his dad.
When he eventually got to meet chimpanzee expert and conservationist Jane Goodall, it was a dream come true. He also got to meet Marlin Perkins of Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom,” another program Dale watched as a child.
Dale wanted to work as a sportscaster and, although he never worked in sports, he has worked in radio, TV and print media since high school.
“I covered fires and town-hall meetings,” he said.
In Dale’s early years of college, he was an intern at WLS Radio, where DJs Larry Lujack and Tommy Edwards did a bit called “Animal Stories.”
When he worked at WCFL Radio in Chicago, he convinced hosts Bob and Betty Sanders to do an “All About Animals” segment each day, which won an award.
Dale also played Professor Penguin, where he came in with an odd animal fact, such as “Do you know that elephants don’t like to jump?” or “Do you know how many teeth cats have? The average cats has 30 teeth.”
Much later, Dale was interviewing celebrities for Tribune and People magazine, and tended to make it mostly about pets.
“I was probably one of the first to write about Oprah’s dogs,” Dale said.
When Jimmy Stewart returned from a trip to Africa, Dale talked with him about elephants. When interviewing Lucille Ball, Dale got her to talk about her dog, a small poodle.
“It was Tinker 4 or Tinker 5; every dog she named Tinker,” Dale said.
Finally, an editor said, only partly joking, “Why don’t you just write about pets?”
When Tribune Media Services called Dale, asking if he’d like to be their pet columnist, he had already been writing for pet magazines and American Kennel Club gazette.
“I instinctively knew that would be all I’d be writing about, and wasn’t sure if that’s what I wanted to do,” Dale said. “I thought, ‘If I do this, I’m just gonna be like a pet person.’ I just knew that it would put me in this box, and didn’t know if I wanted to be in that box.”
But then a friend gave him a piece of advice. “They said ‘Find what you like to do and if you can be the best at it, that’s success,” Dale said.
Dale had no formal training as a pet trainer or behaviorist, but asked experts, took classes and attends veterinary conferences and other animal-related events.
Dale is a founding member and serves on the board of the CATalyst Council; and serves on the board of the Winn Feline Foundation, Tree House Humane Society (Chicago) and the American Humane Association. He also serves as a national ambassador for AHA.
Among his many honors, Dale has received the AVMA Humane Award and the HSUS Pets for Life Award. On Feb. 12, he will be the youngest person ever to be inducted into the Dog Writers Association’s Hall of Fame. He worries that he’s too young and hasn’t earned it yet.
“I’ve gotten lots of awards, but the real nice ones are the ones that are totally unexpected or from peers,” Dale said. “I also was 59 across in a recent TV guide crossword. It says ‘pet journalist Steve.’ It’s the one with ‘Glee’ on the cover.”
Find out more at www.stevedalepetworld.com.