Every time I read the book Old Yeller, my dog Junior knows to snuggle up close to me and make sure he has tissues handy.
If you have ever read this classic dog book, you know what I mean.
Two of my favorite things are books and dogs.I have been reading and telling dog stories ever since I can remember.
Every Spring, Junior and I have a ritual. I go to my bookshelf and select three books from the stack of all my time favorite dog books. As I read, I am inspired by my dog heroes and I reach down and hug my favorite golden retriever in appreciation.
I love to read books to Junior. He is such a great listener. If you haven’t yet discovered to joy of reading aloud to a dog, it is time to try it. Dogs love a good story.
Here are some of our favorites from our special bookshelf.
1) The Call of the Wild – Jack London.
The story of Buck is my favorite book of all time and has been for as long as can remember. Written in 1903 , this is a tale of love, loyalty, survival and redemption. Buck is a domesticated dog who was sold into service as a sled dog in Alaska. The Call of the Wild has been called the greatest dog story ever written. It has my vote.
2) White Fang– Jack London
Yes, I am a big Jack London fan. White Fang also sits in a place of honor on my shelf and in my heart. London is a vivid storyteller and the story of White Fang is etched in my heart forever. White Fang also takes place in the Yukon and was a companion novel to The Call of the Wild.
3) A Dog’s Purpose – W. Bruce Cameron
This unforgettable book chronicles a dog’s journey through several lives to find his ultimate purpose. It is funny, touching, heartwarming, and poignant.
4) The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
Enzo , the dog, is an unforgettable, and perhaps unreliable narrator of this story of love, hope and humility in the face of despair. Enzo provides his point of view of the ups and down of Denny ,his racecar driver owner. I loved this book. I do not think it is a coincidence that shortly after we read this together, my dog Junior started his own blog.
5) Old Yeller -Fred Gipson
This is a 1956 children’s novel about a yellow dog who gives his life for his family. Old Yeller contracts rabies while saving his family from an infected wolf. His young owner is forced to kill Yeller after the fight with the wolf. This book has always spoken to me on themes of loss, resilience and sacrifice.
6) All Creatures Great and Small -James Herriot
Herriot is a country veterinarian in England and this is his memoir of helping animals in his veterinary practice. It is funny and heartwarming. When I first I read this book many years ago, Herriott’s vivid and simple storytelling inspired my own dog writing.
7) Scent of the Missing -Susannah Charleson
Scent of the Missing is the true story of Texas resident Susannah Charleson, her Golden retriever Puzzle and the relationship they form as a skilled search and rescue team.This is one of my favorite books about how the human animal bond forms a partnership that helps people.
8) Possibility Dogs -Susannah Charleson
Charleson’s second book, Possibility Dogs also makes our list. This book shows how rescued dogs can rescue in return.It is the story of Charleson’s work rescuing dogs from shelters and training them to be service animals. I love both these books and learn something each time I read them. I can’t wait for more from the Charleson menagerie.
9) The New Work of Dogs,Tending to Life, Love and Family-Jon Katz
Katz explores the bonds between humans and dogs and how dogs have moved into a new kind of work tending to life love and family. He draws on interviews on attachment theory, and interviews animal lovers, psychiatrists and dog owners.
10) A Big Little Life : A Memoir of a Joyful Dog – Dean Koontz
Bliss to You: Trixie’s Guide to a Happy Life- Trixie Koontz as told to Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz may write great mystery, but he makes the top of my author list because he is a real dog person at heart. These two little books are often my companions on hard nights when I need comfort or inspiration.
A Big Little Life is the story of his time with his beloved golden retriever Trixie. Trixie was a service dog but was released from service and went to live with Koontz and his wife. The book is an author’s love letter to a dog who made a big difference in his life. (Some of Koontz books feature golden retrievers.)
In Bliss to You : Trixie’s Guide to a Happy Life – Trixie Koontz writes philosophy as told to Dean Koontz . (Golden retrievers never give up the spotlight for long.) This little book written by Trixie reveals eight steps that anyone can take to achieve bliss. It’s some of the best wisdom I ever read. And it discusses cookies.
Picking which three of these I want to read again each Spring is like deciding on which puppy is “pick of the litter”.
You probably have 10 other dog books on your list of favorite dog stories but these are the ones I go back to again and again. They never get old and they always make me grateful I live in a world with dogs and great writers who tell dog stories.
Oh yes, my favorite golden retriever gets plenty of hugs with each of these books.
And so far, he’s not complaining.
So what are you and your best friend reading?