I've been giving a lot of thought to the "Smooch your Pooch" book and the blog post I did about it last month.
There are a lot of really great books for children that do a wonderful job helping children develop respect and empathy for pets, and learn how to appropriately interact with them.
Once of my favorites is a book called "Libby and the Cat" by Yetti Frenkel. The front cover illustration shows a little girl about to step on the tail of her cat. While this would make the book appear to be a poor choice as an appropriate pet friendly story for children, trust me when I say the book is wonderful. I love it so much that I gave it as a gift to my young nephew, and often read it on my visits to pre-school classrooms.
The story is about 3 year old Libby Bess who teases the family cat. She steps on his tail, dresses him up in hats, pushes him in a stroller, and sneaks up on him and scares him -- among other things.
One day she realizes that she doesn't like it when people force her to do things she doesn't want to do, and realizes that the cat probably doesn't either. At that point she starts to do things for the cat that she thinks he most likely enjoys -- likely playing with him with a catnip mouse string toy.
What's so wonderful about this book is that I think kids really can relate to this. Teasing other kids and animals can give children a sense of power that they might not be able to get any other way -- it can make them feel good. But realizing that others have feelings and our behavior can impact the emotions of others should be part of growing up to be an emotionally healthy person -- it should be the goal of any parent for their child. And this book can be a tool to help children with this important part of their development.