DogWatch’s 2011 Reading List for the Dog Days of Summer

It’s summer time, which (hopefully) means vacations and lazy days at the beach or in the hammock. Here’s DogWatch’s list of some dog-related summer reading to help you pass the time!

BoBad to the Bone: Memoir of a Rebel Doggie Blogger
by Bo Hoefinger

“Let’s get this clear right away: I’m a dog. I’m 1’10” and weigh 63 lbs, and although I’m a mutt on the outside, I’m a purebred on the inside. My good nature comes from the Golden Retriever side of the family, while my stubbornness is clearly from my Chowchow bloodlines. I’ve got Rastafarian ears, a black tongue for licking, and paws that should be on a dog twice my size.

My name is Bo, and this is my story.”

From shelter dog reject to beloved pet and popular doggie blogger, Bo Hoefinger’s life has been anything but ordinary. Join this incorrigible canine as he welcomes us into his life, complete with his wacky “parents,” a constipated feline housemate, and chipmunk warfare. – Amazon.com

dangerousbookThe Dangerous Book for Dogs: A Parody by Rex and Sparky
by Joe Garden

Written (with help) by dogs and for dogs, The Dangerous Book For Dogs provides insight on everything from the tastiest styles of shoes to chew to the proper method for terrorizing squirrels. It also contains portraits of noble dogs throughout history, the mysteries of cats and humans, and everything else your dog ever wanted to know but was afraid to ask–like how to make toys out of human’s household items, or how to escape from a humiliating reindeer costume.

Rex and Sparky wrote this parody without authorization (because they are dogs and they do what they want.) – Amazon.com

dogseyesThrough a Dog’s Eyes
by Jennifer Arnold

Arnold, founder and executive director of Canine Assistants, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing service dogs for people with disabilities, educates and inspires in this transformative guide to training and celebrating service animals. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 16, Arnold was encouraged by her father to start an organization devoted to helping people with physical disabilities. Now after 20 years of dog training, she shares her methodology and stories of canine intelligence, sensitivity, language comprehension, and prescience bordering on telepathy. She offers shining examples of the heroism of service dogs, from anticipating seizures to resetting a ventilator switch. Along the way, she emphasizes choice-based, positive-reinforcement-only teaching methods and shares valuable insights that every dog owner should know. Engagingly written with a perfect balance of science and observation, this book–soon to be a PBS one hour special and series–is a worthy tribute to our canine friends. – Publishers Weekly

baghdadFrom Baghdad with Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava
by Jay Kopelman

The news from Iraq keeps getting grimmer, but Iraq veteran Kopelman and journalist Roth (The Man Who Talks to Dogs) tell a tale of radiant joy about Kopelman’s efforts to safely transport Lava, the stray dog his Marine unit found in the wreckage of Fallujah, back to the U.S. Though the premise sounds cloying, Kopelman and Roth eschew sentimentality. Kopelman’s nagging qualms about keeping the dog in violation of military orders throw into relief his efforts to repress his guilt over working so hard to save a dog amid so much human suffering. Most bracing are the frank descriptions of the war’s moral vacuum, where terrified men and women—like the dogs that Iraqi insurgents strap with bombs and send charging into the enemy—are driven to commit unspeakable acts they cannot possibly understand. The story of Lava’s journey out of Iraq is exciting, but it’s to Kopelman and Roth’s credit that it’s not nearly as harrowing as the story of what the dog left behind. 8 pages of b&w photos. – Publishers Weekly

oogyOogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love
by Larry Levin

In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen–one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue–ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy’s charms, and decided to take him home.

OOGY is the story of the people who were determined to rescue this dog against all odds, and of the family who took him home, named him “Oogy” (an affectionate derivative of ugly), and made him one of their own. – Amazon.com

katieKatie Up and Down the Hall: The True Story of How One Dog Turned Five Neighbors into a Family
by Glenn Paskin

Plaskin, journalist and lower Manhattan resident, shares the delightful story of how his precocious cocker spaniel, Katie, brought him closer to his neighbors and turned an apartment building of strangers into an urban family. Katie charms everyone she comes in contact with: elderly Pearl and Arthur, dog-phobic Ramon, resident macaw Mojo, and Ryan, a motherless two-year old whom Katie befriends, breaking her “no kids” rule. Katie rubs elbows with the rich and famous–Alan King, Leona Helmsley, Peter Jennings, Katharine Hepburn–as she accompanies the author, a former journalist with CNN, on his interviews. She commandeers the television remote control, steals spaghetti, receives a Christmas gift from Ivana Trump, stars as Toto in a play production of The Wizard of Oz, and is the subject of a Page Six item in the New York Post. Aside from her antics and brushes with fame, Katie proves to be a source of comfort after September 11 and when a member of their makeshift family dies. Plaskin’s engaging narration and Katie’s ability to make community will endear this book to readers. – Publishers Weekly

you_had_me_at_woofYou Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness
by Julie Klam

Klam recounts the touching, often hilarious tales of life with Boston terriers. She adopts her first pet, Otto, after a “substantial” little dog “came slow-motion scampering through the high grass and wild daisies of sleep.” With Otto, the then single Klam learned about compromise and sacrifice. Married and pregnant, the author adopts a little “doglet,” Beatrice, and distracted by a newborn, forgets to have the puppy spayed–resulting in a series of hilarious misadventures worth the price of the book. She continues to rescue, foster, and adopt dogs–spirited Hank, adored Moses, chubby Sherlock–each with his or her own special needs, idiosyncrasies, and “teachable moments” in trusting one’s instincts, achieving balance, helping others, finding contentment, loving fiercely, and letting go. This gem of a book is a gift to dog lovers everywhere. – Publishers Weekly

dogs_i_have_metDogs I Have Met: And the People They Found
by Ken Foster

In this moving sequel to his 2006 bestseller The Dogs Who Found Me, Foster introduces readers to dogs and owners he encountered while promoting his earlier book. In many cases, the dogs had been rescued from death by people who had “decided that they were worth the work of saving,” and Foster interweaves their remarkable stories with updates on his own life and the dogs who continue to change his life in surprising ways. The stories are as diverse as the dogs themselves, from a woman who found a pregnant, one-eyed stray in the exact spot where she had been involved in a car crash six years earlier that killed her best friend, to a man certain that his adoption of a pit bull saved him from Hurricane Katrina. Foster concludes with a more detailed look at the animals affected by Katrina’s devastation, including a moving tribute to the volunteers who helped give shelter to the dogs of New Orleans. Dog lovers will welcome this new collection of moving and poignant canine stories. – Publishers Weekly

woofWoof!: Writers on Dogs
by Lee Montgomery

Montgomery delivers personal essays from writers–including Barry Hannah, Victoria Redel and Denis Johnson (whose essay is written from the point of view of his curiously military-minded bullmastiff, The Colonel)–that capture “the soul essence of dogs” in a way that will touch the hearts of canine owners everywhere. From novelist Tom Grimes’s description of his dog Charlie’s “zigzagging, semi-Homeric” outings to Lydia Millet’s paean to her pug Bug, “a confounding and holy monster,” each author presents a memorable dog each possessing much devotion and baffling eccentricity. Other than Millet and Yannick Murphy (“The Sea of Trees”)–who presents an ode to Tom, his huge, slobbering and totally good-natured Newfoundland–almost all of the essayists prominently feature descriptions of their dogs’ deaths, each of which is affecting but read together can be a profoundly sad experience for those with dogs. This fine collection works best if readers give themselves adequate time for reflection–and sometimes a good cry–between each essay. – Publishers Weekly

huckHuck: The Remarkable True Story of How One Lost Puppy Taught a Family—and a Whole Town—About Hope and Happy Endings
by Janet Elder

A breast cancer diagnosis convinces Manhattanite Janet Elder to finally let her son, Michael, get a puppy. She hopes the adorable red-haired toy poodle will give him something happy to focus on during her treatment. But Huck changed more than just one boy’s life—he made Elder think differently about the people around her. Leaving Huck with her sister in suburban New Jersey, Elder and family head to Florida for vacation. When the nine-pound puppy runs away, they rush back to search for him—and find countless strangers who volunteer to help. There isn’t much suspense about the outcome—but who cares? This dog book actually makes you feel better about people. — Karen Holt via Oprah.com

For more recommendations, including non-fiction works and books for young adults, check out our Amazon store.  Also, we encourage you to share your dog-themed summer reading recommendations here on our blog, or via Facebook and Twitter.  Happy reading!


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