Some dogs have a tale that needs telling. 

I should know. My great-grandfather was Eric Knight, and I grew up hearing stories about how he turned his beloved Border CollieToots, into a loyal super-dog in the 1930s classic Lassie Come Home. 

Other dogs and their antics are so outlandish that fact makes for better storytelling than fiction. John Grogan’s Marley and Me is the latest example of a canine-inspired memoir that tells as much about dogs as the people who come to love them.

From children’s literature to obedience-training books or doggie “self-help,” dog book genres abound. Below, experts share their own favorite dog-themed must-read tomes:

Classic Tail Tales

Many of the dog books written today cannot compare with the joy and heartbreak you likely experience reading the following:

  • Old Yeller 

Author Fred Gipson‘s novel Old Yeller features the fictional Coates family and the big yellow dog that finds them after they settle in the Texas Hill Country.

  • Where the Red Fern Grows 

The Wilson Rawls story Where the Red Fern Grows is about Billy, a farm boy who buys two Redbone Coonhounds, trains them to hunt dogs and companions.

  • The Incredible Journey 

Author Sheila Burnford‘s book The Incredible Journey was made into a movie, Homeward BoundIt follows the adventures of two dogs and a cat as they travel to reunite with their owners.

  • Shiloh 

A Newbery Medal winner, Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, features 11-year-old Marty Preston, who finds a stray Beagle but learns that its real owner is a neighbor who mistreats his dogs.

Children’s Books for Young Pups

Several book series’ feature cartoon dogs like CliffordSpotand Harry, the dirty dog. Other books recommended by PBS Kids, the nonprofit children’s television channel, include:

Children’s Fiction 

    • Chowder by Peter Brown is about a Bulldog who is different from the rest.
    • City Dog by Karla Kuskin is about a city slicker who treks out to the country.
    • Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey is about an invasion by a giant monster dog.
    • Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman is excellent for beginning readers.
    • Good Dog Carl by Alexandra Day is about a Rottweiler who’s also a baby sitter.

Children’s Nonfiction 

Dog Care and Training

Nicholas Dodman is an author and professor of animal behavior at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. He recommends that every dog owner has on their bookshelf the American Kennel Club’s The Complete Dog Book, which has chapters on dog care, training, and nutrition, in addition to information on every breed.

Rebecca Wallwork, a senior editor and book reviewer for the American Kennel Club‘s Family Dog magazine, recommends that first-time dog owners invest in Kathy Santo‘s Dog Sense, as it addresses the basics of feeding, care, and training. Another good option is Puppy’s First Steps: A Proven Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, Well-Behaved Companion by the faculty of the Cummings School, including Dr. Dodman.

To foster a greater understanding of our canine companions, Dr. Dodman suggests The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell, an applied animal behaviorist, who looks at how humans behave around dogs. Wallwork endorses animal behaviorist Stanley Coren‘s work, such as The Modern Dog: A Joyful Exploration of How We Live with Dogs Today, as well as Dr. Dodman‘s If Only They Could Speak: Understanding the Powerful Bond Between Dogs and Their Owners.

Must-read Memoirs

“Memoirs are big right now because of Marley and Me,” says Wallwork. 

She recommends the following: 

  • Anything by Jon Katz. The journalist and media critic turned his skills to writing about dogs after adopting a difficult Border Collie that convinced him to move to a farm. Titles include The Dogs of Bedlam Farm and Katz on Dogs.
  • The New Yorkers by Kathleen Schine is about dogs that brought tenants of an Upper West Side apartment building together. 
  • A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas is a series of essays that strikes a sadder note about dogs and relationships. 

Dog stories often have the most impact when writers emphasize the human-dog bond. “I like it when the dog is part of a bigger story,” says Wallwork. “Unless a dog is larger than life, it’s tough to let a dog carry an entire book.” But maybe your dog could?

Article written by Author: Elizabeth Wasserman

Must-read Books For Dog Lovers thedogdaily.com

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