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Checchi, Mary Jane

CHECCHI, Mary Jane

PERSONAL:

Married to John C. Culver (a former U.S. senator); children: John Vincent.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Bethesda, MD. Office—c/o St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Former lawyer; wrote press releases, speeches, and briefing papers for politicians. Director and chief counsel to Senate majority leader Robert C. Byrd; executive director of Senate Irane-Contra investigating committee. Member, board of directors, of New Community Afterschool and Advocacy Program and Washington Psychoanalytic Foundation.

MEMBER:

People Animals Love.

WRITINGS:

Are You the Pet for Me? Choosing the Right Pet for Your Family, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Contributor to periodicals, including Big Apple Parent, Delaware Pets, Dog and Kennel, Georgia Parent, Paw Print Post, and Pet Life.

SIDELIGHTS:

Her work as an expert on pet ownership, reflected in the book Are You the Pet for Me? Choosing the Right Pet for Your Family, represents a second career for Mary Jane Checchi. The first could hardly have been more different: earlier in her life, Checchi—who has described herself as a "recovering political addict" and "lapsed lawyer"—worked for Democrat senators Edmund Muskie of Maine, Birch Bayh of Indiana, and Gary Hart of Colorado. She also served as staff director and chief counsel for Robert Byrd, a Virginia Democrat who at the time was U.S. Senate majority leader. During the Iran-Contra hearings Checchi worked as executive director for the Senate investigating committee looking into the events surrounding the scandal.

In Are You the Pet for Me? Checchi offers advice designed to ensure a workable relationship between pets and owners. She informs the reader both of the benefits to be gained from having a pet, as well as the responsibilities and possible pitfalls associated with pet ownership. She apprises the potential pet owner of factors to consider, including the composition of the household—children or no children, for instance—as well as the prime caretaker's schedule. Obviously, someone who works at home will have different needs than someone who travels frequently on business, but one of the principles undergirding the book is the idea that most lifestyles can potentially accommodate a pet.

Checchi devotes particular attention to advising children on the many issues to consider before taking on the responsibility of a pet. For example, as noted by Anne Y. Meyers in the Atlanta Constitution, one of the many questions for children to consider, along with their parents, is: "Is your family stable right now? Checchi advises not to get a pet during a major adjustment in your family's lifestyle, such as divorce, moving, or pregnancy." A reviewer for Our Children called Are You the Pet for Me? "an excellent resource."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Atlanta Constitution, April 26, 1999, Anne Y. Meyers, "Picking the Perfect Pet," p. B4.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 28, 1999, Sarah Casey Newman, "Paperback Gives Tips on Choosing a Pet," p. 43.

Washington Post, April 27, 1999, Catherine O'Neill Grace, "A Friend Like No Other," p. Z22.

ONLINE

Checchibooks Web Site,http://www.checchibooks.com/index.html (September 14, 2003).*

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