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The Soul of All Living Creatures: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  573 ratings  ·  91 reviews
As profiled in the New York Times Magazine…

Based on the author’s twenty-five years of experience as a veterinarian and veterinary behaviorist, The Soul of All Living Creatures delves into the inner lives of animals – from whales, wolves, and leopards to mice, dogs, and cats – and explores the relationships we forge with them.
As an emergency room clinician four years out o
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 9th 2013 by Crown (first published January 1st 2013)
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Susan (aka Just My Op)
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-edition, animals
Amazingly enough, this book did not make me cry. I expected heartbreaking stories, which I don't enjoy but which seem to come with the territory when reading about animals. There were stories, and there were some which are sad, some which really made me feel for the animals involved, but not break into ugly sobs.

Subtitled “What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human,” this book does that but it also teaches us more about animals, how close they are in emotions to humans, how they react to differ
Kevin McAllister
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was a bit too sappy and new agey for we. Like the author I hate using the pronoun it when discussing animals, but unlike the author I feel the terms boys and girls goes too far. Male and female, he and she will suffice. Boys and girls is taking it to far. And if you want to use parables and metaphors to illustrate your points, you don't need to give your readers a step by step explanation of them ; we get it .
Mindy Miller
Jul 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
The author had nothing groundbreaking to offer. He simply gushed dramatically about how godly animals are, with some random stories thrown in that really didn't illustrate his sometimes odd theories. And I already know some people prefer animals over humans and feel extremely comfortable with them. (I'm one of them!) But did we have to write a whole book to share that?

Really over the top. I love animals, but this was too much.
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book as I thought it would go into more depth about specific animal behaviors. Instead, the author's approach is to give an example of some animal behavior problem and then turn it into a lesson for human living, eg, tolerance. I found the book to be too preachy without the scientific underpinning I was looking for.
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Interspersed with some really fascinating stories about animals is some very new agey mumbo jumbo. Which is too bad, because the second half of every chapter was essentially unreadable. Oh, there's also a weirdly high number of old folktales in this book. That illustrate something about animals and humans. Except, man, I'd rather just read about animals and humans interacting and whatnot. (Also, sometimes Virga tells a story about an animal with a weird behavioral issue AND NEVER TELLS US THE OU ...more
Jul 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Laura by: New York Times
I read this book because of the absolutely marvelous New York Times article, Zoo Animals and their Discontents,* I’ve come to love the zoo down the street as an adult and remain mortified by the zoos of my youth; concrete boxes with unhappy animals. Dr. Virga seems to be part of why zoos today now are so much better. He and those like him brought in positive (rather than negative) feedback and the idea that animals, too, grieve and get anxious and bored. ...more
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
In my library, there’s a small table set up with “librarian’s picks”. Each book has a card beneath printed with the name of the librarian who picked that particular book. Sounds familiar, right? Well, our branch is a bit different. You see, we have a wonderful therapy dog who is owned by one of the librarians and Rooney can be found most days in the office or in the children’s section during story time. However, any patron may ask to see Rooney at any given time and indulge her in belly rubs, hu ...more
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I lovely read, as Virga shares stories of life as a vet and trying to understand the animals around us. He shares his frustrations, successes and how they have changed him.
Reading this inspired me to watch my dog more closely and be more attentive of his needs.
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book, written by an experienced veterinarian and animal behaviorist, is certainly a fast read (barely over 200 pages long!) and unfortunately does not cover anything earth-shatteringly interesting. Each of the ten chapters uses one particular anecdote from Dr. Virga’s long career to help illustrate the quality (such as integrity) in both animals and humanity. This is an interesting structure, and the book is well-written, but nothing screams fresh to me. Also, despite the dog on the cover, ...more
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
What struck me most about this book was the author’s tender feeling for animals. Vint Virga, a veterinarian specializing in behavioral medicine, is a very caring man who with time and effort tries to understand the animals and what is bothering them. In this book he uses anecdotes, tales, fables, parables, quotes, poetry, science, and his own observations to tell what he has learned about animal behavior. With insight and compassionate care of his patients he is able to help some of them and off ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 3-star
I won this book from the goodreads first-reads giveaway.

I liked this book because there was some stuff I can agree on and agreed on. I even used post-its for the parts i like. Like people talking to there dogs or seeing them as part of the family. Thats how I see my dog, as family. Also I understand about that the one who listens to you best is your animal because thats how I feel sometimes. The stories was okay, it shows owners concern for there animals and that they would do anything for them.
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I originally read this book when after winning it in a contest and enjoyed it. Rereading it now, after several life changes including the passing of my kitty Mel, who was with me when I wrote the essay that won me the book, promoting at work, new cats coming into my life and retiring it affected me, in a positive way, even more so. Living through these early days of COVID-19 has put much of my life into different perspectives and how animals approach the changes in their lives, is a key part of ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Virga shares little stories and philosophical observations about animals he has encountered from his twenty-five years of work as a veterinarian. Animals, he tells us, are able to see and feel and experience the world in ways that are outside of our human ways of experiencing the world.

A book any animal lover will enjoy.
Cara Hinton
Dec 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Lovely book with stories of animals this Veterinarian has treated in a variety of unconventional ways. A reminder that all animals are important, have feelings, and many have similar issues as humans. And also reminds us how important the connection between animals and humans is in our lives.
John McDaid
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The subtitle of this book -- "What animals can teach us about being human" -- says it all. In this slim (216pp) volume, behavioral veterinarian Vint Virga weaves together science, close observation, insights from various wisdom traditions, and a heaping dollop of compassion to create an engaging and penetrating look at how animals -- and humans -- think and feel.

Are dogs mindful? Can clouded leopards display integrity? Do house cats show forgiveness? These questions and others occupy the ten ch
Marie Belcredi
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book dealt with animals - wild ones, pets and those in zoos and what they can teach us. The chapters are titled "mindfulness","forgiveness" and other traits that we can learn from animals. The author is a vet who has gone into animal psychology after having seen a well loved dog recover against odds seemingly because of the attention and love of humans.
I enjoyed this book although sometimes it seemed to get a bit lost on parables. I have learnt something from this book and will attend to a
Leila Kern
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I often watch my cats because they interest me in their thought process! I certainly think that people can learn from animals in their daily living. Animals live in the present; people tend to obsess about everything! I will certainly try to live more like an animal in my day to day life! Wonderful book for people to read especially when dealing with living each day!
Helen Campbell
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This fascinating book certainly delivers the promise of it's subtitle: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human. The author's long career as a veterinarian and animal behavior specialist - in private practice and experience with zoos and other organizations - are reflected in his love and respect for all life. He reveals how, by striving to perceive the world as animals do, we can enrich our own appreciation of life, and deepen our grasp of spirituality.
Sarah Ewald
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thoughtful book about animals and how much we, as humans, share the same foibles. Dr. Virga, has worked in zoos, and also in small animal practice, and gives thought to how much animals can have the same anxieties, and fears, as we experience. I saw behaviors that I experienced with one or more of my cats. Enlightening.
Steve Granger
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it
The description of this book does a good job of providing you with a sense of what to expect. A reflection on decades of veterinary experience, filled with lessons about the ways that animals, or living creatures more broadly, can teach us about ourselves. Highly suggested for the animal lovers.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Not a long read, but deeply impactful.

Animals can have the same physical ailments that humans have and this book deals with with their emotional ailments which can also be the same as humans.

Antidotes explain each psychological ‘condition’ for both a zoo animal as well as a domesticated animal.

The one ‘take-away’ from this book, is that animals of all kinds, live in the ‘moment’, the here and now. Behaviorists believe that they remember the past, but do not let it def
David Gee
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed both the real animal stories and the parable style stories and thought the "what animals can teach us" messages were well integrated into the narrative and thought-provoking.
A nice bonus was the author's mellow voice on the audiotape.
Netta De beer
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a animal lover.....this was heartfelt .
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vet-animal
I rarely ever write reviews, so please excuse my novice writing... I thought that this book was incredibly beautiful and thoughtful, and it is inspiring to me as an aspiring vet to see that there are many who respect our spiritual and emotional connection to animals; a connection that, I think, greatly informs our purpose as healers. Being animals ourselves but also being further classified as "human", we somehow manage to lose our connection to other species and drift away from that sense of On ...more
Jennifer Clausen-greene
* I would have given this book 2 1/2 stars but it is not available*

Beautifully wrote book that reminds us of the importance of animals in our lives. They are our companions, our comfort in times of sorrow, our friend in times of joy, our protector in times of trouble and our family above all us. Inspiring and passionate book that teaches us how to embrace life, grow in character and morality, and how to gain insight into what is truly valuable and precious.

It was fascinating to read the authors
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

This is a book that written by seasoned vet and animal behaviorist, Vint Virga. I enjoyed the stories of the animals that he observes and the ways that he helps owners/trainers address their issues. Some of the stories were more moving then others for me. This book definitely has more of a new agey philosophy to it that may turn some people off. I thought it really drove the point home of how we truly connect with animals on a deeper level then we
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, animals
I really enjoyed this book and thought it was beautiful.

Looking at others' reviews, it seems many do not agree and seem to think this book was going to be more factual or scientific than philosophical or emotional. However, the title of the book IS the SOUL of all living creatures. This book is not any of the following: the Science of Animal Behavior, Animal Behavior 101 or How to Identify a Behavior Problem in Your Pet. If that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere. So, because I read th
Dani Shuping
Aug 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: not-amazon
With over 30 years experience as a veterinarian and an animal behaviorist, Vint Virga shares his experiences and memories in this short, but relatively powerful book. Virga talks about the lives of the creatures that surround us and how our lives intersect with them in the most powerful ways.

When the book begins, Virga shares the story of a dog brought in one night that had been hit by a car. And even though x-rays and tests proved that there weren't any broken bones or anything majorily wrong,
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
For a book that sets out to show us how to "enrich our own appreciation of life, enhance our character, and nurture our relationships" through "striving to perceive the world as animals do," there is a remarkably small amount of logical connections between how our behavior and/or habits should emulate an animal's. On the contrary, despite obvious efforts at organizing major topics, there is little correlation between the animals he introduces and the quality he attributes to them. For example, i ...more
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received this book for the purpose of review.

I LOVED this book! I received it by UPS, opened it and thought I would look it over and maybe start the first page just to see what I was in for. Well, I couldn't stop. I dropped the other book I was reading and couldn't stop picking this one up over the next few days. So, wholeheartedly I am giving major kudos to this book and what it opened my eyes to.

Vint Virga is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine specializing in behavioral medicine. He works with
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Karen M. McManus, the bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One of Us Is Next, doesn’t shy away from secrets and...
61 likes · 3 comments
“The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different. —Hippocrates” 5 likes
“Distracted by responsibilities and focused on our hopes and dreams, we neglect what is right within our reach. And in so doing, we miss the moment and all the rich experiences it offers us.” 2 likes
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