One of our favorite things about summer is sitting in the backyard, the park or the beach reading a good book. Looking for your next great summer read? Check out this year’s DogWatch Summer Reading List, featuring a selection of novels, non-fiction, photo books, kids titles and more all centering on our favorite subject – DOGS!

Tales of Suspense

Just Life: A Novel by Neil Abramson

Just Life book coverIn the midst of a pandemic, what will one dedicated veterinarian do to save New York City’s dogs from quarantine or worse? Just Life, the second novel from author Neil Abramson, tells the story of a Samantha, a young vet with a tragic past and a fierce commitment to saving the city’s dogs before it’s too late. Will she find a cure in time? Will she confront her personal demons? Pick up this new thriller to find out, and explore the complex bond that unites us with the canines who live among us.

For the Summer Scholar

Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon by Bronwen Dickey

Pit Bull book coverNo dog breed has generated more headlines in the 21st century than the Pit Bull. How did this breed, once a beloved “nanny dog” and companion of early cinema’s first child stars the “Little Rascals,” become known as a “vicious” breed associated with dog fighting and deemed by some as unfit to be a family pet? Author Bronwen Dickey dives into the past to answer this question, and illuminates the fascinating history of this American breed. “As appealing to readers of history and social science as it is to dog enthusiasts,” writes Booklist in their review. “Dickey’s broad scope will leave readers affected and pondering.”

How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Dog Decode the Canine Brain by Gregory Berns

how dogs love us book coverWe all want to know what’s going on in our dog’s brains. Why do they do what they do, how do they learn and how do they experience the world around us? Neuroscientist Gregory Berns offers a fascinating glimpse into the mind of man’s best friend. A best-selling author and the Distinguished Chair of Neuroeconomics in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, Berns’ new book is a must-read for science-obsessed dog lovers. To accomplish his goal of “decoding the canine brain,” Berns taught dogs (including his own dog Callie) to stay still long enough to undergo a fMRI. What did he find in these brain scans? You’ll have to pick up the book to find out!

Incredible True Stories

The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew At His Side by Damien Lewis

The Dog Who Could Fly book coverA gripping, heartwarming story of heroism and friendship, The Dog Who Could Fly is the perfect summer read for the WWII buff who loves dogs.  Author Damien Lewis tells the story of Robert Bozdech, a Czech airman who flew for both France and the RAF during the war. After surviving a plane crash in France in 1939, Bozdech found an abandoned German Shepherd puppy and carried it to safety inside his jacket. He named the dog Ant, and the two became extremely close, and even flew many missions together. The unshakable bond of these two determined heroes is a story you won’t soon forget.

Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway by Peter Zheutlin

Rescue Road book coverAdrfit after his family’s restaurants closed, Greg Mahle found calling after helping a stranded van-load of puppies looking for new homes. Since then, Greg has made countless weekly trips from his home in Ohio to states across the South, picking up at-risk dogs from crowded shelters and bringing them up North to find forever homes.  Author Peter Zheutlin tells Mahle’s story, and chronicles what it’s like to devote your life to saving animals in need. “Heartwarming doesn’t suffice to describe it,” says Alexandra Horowitz, author of the bestselling book Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. “This tale of stray, unwanted, and abandoned dogs, and the people who devote their lives to saving them, restores faith in humanity.”

For the Foodie

The Healthy Hound Cookbook: Over 125 Easy Recipes for Healthy, Homemade Dog Food–Including Grain-Free, Paleo, and Raw Recipes! by Paris Permenter and John Bigley

The Healthy Hound Cookbook book coverIf you love experimenting in the kitchen but have never tried baking treats just for your pets, here’s a great place to start. Paris Permenter and John Bigley of the popular blog DogTipper have come up with enough easy, creative and varied recipes to keep you busy – and keep your pup’s belly full – all summer long! Plus, they’ve included recipes for dogs with special dietary needs, including those on grain-free diets. We can’t wait for our office dogs to try the “Elvis Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich Dog Treats” and “Shepherd’s Favorite Pie.” Try some yourself, and tell us what your dog thinks in the comments or on Facebook!

Photo Books

My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts by Laura T. Coffey

My Old Dog book coverThis pick is endorsed by our own Senior Office Dog, Josie the 13 year-old black Lab! Josie may be a bit slower and grayer in the muzzle these days, but her happy smile and gentle nature lights up the office. Journalist Laura T. Coffey also knows the joy of senior dogs. In her book My Old Dog, she chronicles the stories of 19 special pets, including Marnie, a rescue dog and internet celebrity known her trademark head tilt, and Bretagne, the last surviving 9/11 search and rescue dog. In addition to their stories, the book also features breathtakingly adorable photos of the dogs, showcasing their unique beauty and spirit. After picking up My Old Dog, you’ll want to race to the shelter to bring home your own special senior!

The Dogist: Photographic Encounters with 1,000 Dogs by Elias Weiss Friedman

The Dogist book coverFans of Elias Weiss Friedman’s popular Instagram feed @TheDogist will love this beautiful compendium of the photographer’s work. Separated into categories like “Puppies,” “Cones of Shame,” “Mutts” and “Dogs in Fancy Outfits,” you’ll love flipping through page after page of stunning dog photos. Friedman is a master of capturing a dog’s distinctive personality – amateur pet photographers, take note! And for those who just love a good puppy photo, The Dogist is the perfect coffee table book you’ve been waiting for.

For the Kids

Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp

Dogs Don't Do Ballet book coverWe can’t leave out the kids this summer! Dog-loving tots will adore Dogs Don’t Do Ballet, from author Anna Kemp and illustrator Sara Ogilvie. The book tells the tale of Biff, a rolly-polly black-and-white mutt who doesn’t like to do regular dog stuff like play fetch – he’d rather be a ballet dancer! Ogilvie’s illustrations are quirky and charming, and Kemp’s story is a humorous lesson in being yourself and following your dreams. Dance, Biff, dance!

…and one for the Cats Lovers

A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life by James Bowen

A Street Cat Named Bob book coverYou didn’t think we’d leave out the cats, did you? Cat parents, we’ve got the perfect summer read for you. A Street Cat Named Bob is the irresistible tale of James, a struggling street musician in London who rescues a sick orange tabby despite having barely enough money to feed himself. After nursing Bob back to health, the spunky cat paid him back more than he could ever imagine. A Street Cat Named Bob was a bestseller in the UK for 52 straight weeks and has been published in 26 countries. Read it today to see why Bob and James’ story is capturing hearts around the world.

If you pick up one or more of these books this summer, let us know what you think in the comments or on Facebook. Have a wonderful summer and happy reading!


DogWatch customers have been reaching out to us to share their own picks for our Summer Reading List for Dog Lovers. Here are two more titles to check out.

Bespotted book coverDog lovers of all shapes (and spots!) will love Linda Gray Sexton‘s book, Bespotted: My Family’s Love Affair With Thirty-Eight Dalmatians, a memoir about growing up with, raising and falling in love with Dalmatians. Sexton, an acclaimed author and daughter of Pulitzer Prize winning poet Anne Sexton, chronicles the 38 spotted dogs who have made an impact on her life, sharing stories of birth, tragedy, triumph and love. Sexton has been a DogWatch of the Bay Area customer for many years and lives in Redwood City, CA with her husband and three Dalmatians: a female named Breeze and her two sons Cody and Mac.

DogWatch customer Elizabeth recommends the “very insightful” book Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior by world-renowned animal scientist Temple Grandin. In this book, Dr. Grandin draws upon her long and distinguished career and her own experiences with autism to deliver an extraordinary message about how animals act, think, and feel.