I became a dog person the moment I saw my dog at a family picnic. I loved everything about her; her happy swishy tail, her sweet personality, her beautiful amber eyes and tiny little nose. I liked her foot fringe and her bounciness and her curly ears. Then I found out that she was an abused shelter dog, rescued by my boyfriend’s cousin (thanks, Dan!) from being euthanized. So, despite the fact that I’d only been dating this guy for a few months, that I never owned a dog, that I wasn’t even allowed to have a dog in my apartment, and knew nothing about caring for a dog, I got a dog.
That was 13 years ago. The boy and the dog are still the same.
It goes without saying that librarians love cats. But we love our dogs, too!
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Pets!
My Favorite Books About Dogs
Go Dog Go!, P.D. Eastman
This was my all-time favorite when I was a kid. My parents probably have horrible flashbacks just looking at the cover. To this day, my heart lifts when I see the cover. Basically, it’s a bunch of colorful dogs doing things like racing cars and bicycles and partying in trees. Exactly what you think it would be.
Zorro Series, Carter Goodrich
This children’s series is unbearably sweet and so funny. The illustrations are gorgeous, too. Anyone who has brought another dog home will be able to relate to the disgust Mister Bud feels when Zorro, a little pug with a big attitude, shows up on the scene. Mister Bud has a schedule and he sticks to it. He doesn’t want to share anything, ever and is grumpy about this new mutt. Then one day Mister Bud realizes that Zorro has the same schedule! Suddenly nap time is more comfortable and walks are more fun and even though Mister Bud could still be grumpy, they become best friends.
Dog Boy, Eva Hornug
In 1998, the end of the Cold War and the breakdown of the Russian economy created over 2 million homeless children. Many parents simply packed up and left, leaving children as young as two years old to fend for themselves. Dog Boy was inspired by the true story of Ivan Mishukov, a four-year old who lived with a pack of wild dogs for two years until he was “rescued.” If you are interested in the real story, it is included in Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children by Michael Newton. Dog Boy is a work of fiction (and one of my favorite books), and it is so beautifully and realistically rendered that I found it so easy to imagine to sleeping in a pile of smelly wild dogs, burying my face in their warm bellies to escape the harsh Moscow cold and sharing scraps of food with them. Four-year-old Romochka and the dogs work together to survive and that includes preying on other people. Eventually they earn the notice of the “authorities” and Romochka is “rescued” from the dogs. I honestly don’t know what I expected, but I found the ending heart-breaking. This book stayed with me for a long time.
Cujo, Stephen King
Cujo is the reason every kid who grew up in the 80s has an unnatural fear of rabies. Do you know how many people in Pennsylvania contracted rabies last year? 450. Out of a population of 12.76 million. Dudes, you’re not getting rabies. I read the book and saw the movie. Believe it or not, the book is sympathetic to the poor dog. Cujo didn’t want to get sick; in fact, there are chapters from his point of view that are downright heartrending. He is simply a dog with a hurt nose and can’t figure out why he wants to hurt “his” boy. According to King, he wrote this novel while he was drinking heavily and barely remembers writing it it all and in fact, wishes he could remember writing the good parts.
Walter the Farting Dog Series, William Kotzwinkle
I’m married to a guy named Walt, so obviously I find these books extra-hilarious (and the stuffed animal!) Walter is an apologetic-looking dog who passes gas morning, noon and night, which causes him to be banned from all kinds of places. However, he also foils burglars with his smelly farts! Yet poor Walter isn’t allowed at the beach, on a cruise ship or yard sales. Interestingly, Walter is based off of a real dog whose owner fed him beer and doughnuts.
Dog Stories, Diana Secker Tesdell, Editor
Mark Twain, Tobias Wolff, Jonathan Lethem and Anton Chekhov are only a few of the authors featured in this Everyman’s Library Pocket Classic, Dog Stories. In “Her Dog” by Tobias Wolff, a man talks to his dead wife’s dog to assauge his grief. But Victor the dog will have none of it, saying, “…I loved her more than you. I loved her with all my heart.” There are humorous tales from a dog’s point of view, including tales from P.G. Wodehouse and O. Henry and many more touching portraits about man’s best friend and his ability to amuse us, touch our hearts, and drive us crazy.
Also, if you feel like crying your eyes out, read the prologue to Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. It’s written from the point of view of a dog who is grieving his lost owner.
Now go cuddle with your pooch-
*From the Columbia Encyclopedia:
Dog Days is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was reckoned as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun.