CALL us old-fashioned, but we still think that books are great gifts. Here are some suggestions:

Beautiful Old Dogs, edited by David Tabatsky, is a collection of essays, poems and images celebrating our senior best friends.

Booklist calls Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words, written by John Pilley Jr., a marvelous blend of good science and heartwarming dog story.

Children ages 8 to 12 will enjoy Anton and Cecil: Cats at Sea, by Lisa Martin and Valerie Martin, illustrated by Kelly Murphy. The New York Times Book Review calls it remarkable for its delicate use of language, and says the story is engrossing and unpredictable.

* A researcher at the University of California, Davis has identified the gene that causes a condition in Weimaraners known as spinal dysraphism. It's an inherited defect that causes the dogs to "bunny hop" with their back legs instead of moving normally. The discovery also has benefits for human medicine; the same gene is mutated in children with spina bifida.