Because I love my 7-year-old dog, Sam, more than life itself (yes, I'm one of those people), I had a more-than-passing interest in the American Red Cross's new book "Pet First Aid" ($12.95 at local Red Cross chapters or at www.redcross.org).

I consider myself an above-average caregiver, providing Sam with creature comforts aplenty and attention beyond his (not to mention my boyfriend's) wildest dreams. Yet after reading this book, which focuses on ways to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies, I realized that there is still much I can do to make my dog's world a safer place.

Though I doubt very seriously that I need to prepare for a situation where Sam's eye will pop out of his socket, or where he'll be impaled by an arrow, I did garner useful tips suitable for dogs and cats alike: how to perform CPR, the four places to find a pulse, quick ways to stop bleeding and the items necessary for a pet first-aid kit.

Once I looked past the book's unintentionally funny illustrations and the occasional over-obvious comment ("the following situation should be considered an emergency: cuts and gashes that cause internal organs to become exposed or fall out . . .") I found an easy-to-read resource that, to my mind, all dog owners should have on hand. Well, that and a lifetime supply of tennis balls.

Terri Sapienza