Top Ten Books about Dogs

For those of you who are avid readers, what better topic to read about than your best friend, the dog. Collected below are the jacket blurbs from several excellent books on many different aspects of loving and living with dogs.

Grooming tips

  • 10. Happy Dog: Caring for Your Dog's Body, Mind, and Spirit by Billy Rafferty & Jill Cahr. Rafferty, dog stylist to the stars, gives you the scoop on caring for your pooch. Billy Rafferty is a nationally-recognized pet stylist and dog care expert with celebrity clients such as Oprah Winfrey, MSNBC News anchor Tamron Hall and chef Art Smith. Now, in Happy Dog, he shows you how to:

    • Monitor your pet's health
    • Set up a home grooming station
    • Brush, bathe, and dry your pet
    • Dog-proof your home
    • Travel with your dog

    And with his extensive expertise, Rafferty includes information you won't find together anywhere else, such as:

    • A unique yearlong dog-grooming care calendar
    • Appraisals of products and tools on the market
    • Safety and emergency preparedness
    • Pet nutrition, exercise and play

    With illustrations and photos throughout, this comprehensive guide ensures your pooch won't be the only one feeling happy.

  • Dog reading a book

    The dog as a spiritual being

  • 9. Soul of a Dog by Jon Katz. The New York Times bestselling author of Dog Days ponders the question of whether animals have souls, through stories of his own dogs and the farm animals he lives with

    Do animals have souls? Do they affect ours? Do they make moral choices? Jon Katz believes that the soulfulness of animals lies in the things they do and the impact they have on our lives. In Soul of a Dog he explores the idea through stories of his border collie Rose, about whom Jon receives more inquiries and e-mail than any of his other animals. Not one for being petted or cuddled, Rose's integrity and devotion to running the farm are complete. When Jon is sick, Rose is the only one of the dogs who will not leave his side.

    Here too are fascinating looks at his other dogs, Izzy, Lenore, and Pearl; his gentle, ethereal donkeys; a murderous barn cat named Mother; assorted chickens and sheep; some obnoxious goats, and a 2,500-pound doughnut-loving steer named Elvis. With the same wisdom, humor, and insight that prompted the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to call Jon Katz 'a Thoreau for modern times,' Soul of a Dog illuminates our interspecies relationships with tales of these unforgettable animals.

  • Rescues

  • 8. Rescue Ink by Rescue Ink with Denise Flaim. Meet the badass biker gang dedicated to fighting animal abusers, and follow along on some of their exploits as they help recover a dog-napped bulldog, find a home for an alligator, and even save kittens stranded in trees.

    For those of you who aren’t familiar with this group, they are bikers who joined together in 2008 to save animals in danger. The full name of the book is Rescue Ink: How Ten Guys Saved Countless Dogs and Cats, Twelve Horses, Five Pigs, One Duck, and a Few Turtles, which will give you some idea of the widely diverse group of animals this group cares about. Their new reality TV show Rescue Ink Unleashed, starring the all-volunteer group, premiered on the National Geographic Channel Sept. 25, 2009.

  • Author Dean Koontz’ dog

  • 7. A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz. Known for his chilling fiction, best-selling author Dean Koontz reveals his softer side, in this loving tribute to Trixie, the joyful, keenly spiritual golden retriever who changed his family forever. If you've ever read Koontz' jacket blurbs, you know he always honors Trixie in some way in his bio.

    The author thought he had everything he needed. A successful novelist with more than twenty #1 New York Times bestsellers to his credit, Dean had forged a career out of industry and imagination. He had been married to his high school sweetheart, Gerda, since the age of twenty, and together they had made a happy life for themselves in their Southern California home. It was the picture of peace and contentment. Then along came Trixie.

    A service dog with Canine Companions for Independence, Trixie retired at three to become an assistance dog of another kind. She taught Dean to trust his instincts, persuaded him to cut down to a fifty-hour work week, and, perhaps most importantly, renewed in him a sense of wonder that will remain with him for the rest of his life. She mended him in many ways.

    Trixie weighed only sixty-something pounds, Dean occasionally called her Short-Stuff, and she lived less than twelve years. In this big world, she was a little thing, but in all the ways that mattered, including the effect she had on those who loved her, she lived a big life.

  • Life on the agility circuit

  • 6. Dogged Pursuit by Robert Rodi. Best in Show meets Marley and Me in this laugh-out-loud memoir about the author and his doggedly disobedient Sheltie's year of victories, failures and misadventures on the canine agility competition circuit.

    An urban intellectual and a scruffy, disobedient Sheltie team up to conquer the Canine Agility pro-circuit in this hysterical account of the quest for glory in the competitive dog world. A cousin to the popular best-in-breed show, agility competitions resemble doggie boot camp: dogs scamper across teeter-totters, jump tires, and scoot down tunnels-without leashed guidance from a human. Taking home ribbons requires a focused handler and a cooperative dog.

    Robert Rodi is a self-proclaimed Blue-stater who prefers fine wine and Italian literature (in Italian) to SUVs and suburban sprawl. His dog Dusty's scrawny build and skittish personality make him an unnatural competitor. Nevertheless, Rodi recounts a year filled with victories, failures, and hysterical personalities, and the loving bond between one man and his bug-eyed dog.

  • Dog reading a book

    Law and Order for the canine set

  • 5. The Unscratchables by Cornelius Kane. Bull terrier Crusher McNash is a hard-boiled detective who hates cats, but he'll have to bark up another tree if he wants help solving a savage homicide - his new partner is a Feline Bureau of Investigation agent!

    When a couple of Rottweiler gangsters are brutally murdered, Crusher McNash tries to convince himself that it's nothing unusual -- just another underworld territorial dispute. But after the sniffer squad identifies a feral-cat killer, McNash is forced to do the unthinkable -- team up with a prissy Siamese from the FBI. The trail leads from junkyards to gambling dens, from cat prisons to baronial estates, in the process unraveling an awesome conspiracy involving domination techniques, population control, and the megalomaniacal ambitions of fox media magnate Phineas Reynard.

    Both a hard-bitten crime story and a sharp-fanged satire, The Unscratchables is the genre-bending mystery of the year.

    A couple for the kids

  • 4. A Very Marley Christmas by John Grogan, Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey. Spend the holidays with everyone's favorite bad dog with this adorable picture book for children aged four to eight. The book is based on Marley and Me, a chronicle of the antics of a wild dog who lived with John Grogan. Grogan, a journalist in Florida, made a name for himself writing columns about Marley’s exploits, which was later turned into a book, and thence into a movie.
  • 3. Don't Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs by Wendy Wahman Meeting a new dog is exciting, but it can also be scary. This humorous how-to manual shows kids the best ways to interact with unfamiliar dogs, providing helpful tips about all sorts of dog behavior. Children often don’t understand what dogs’ actions mean and can misinterpret a threatening signal for a friendly one and vice versa. Kids and parents will return to Wendy Wahman’s playful illustrations again and again for useful reminders: Slow Down. Stay very still. And remember, don’t lick the dog!

  • Vet advice

  • 2. Speaking for Spot by Dr. Nancy Kay. Dr. Kay, a vet from California, provides hundreds of tips to assist you in being the advocate your dog needs to live a happy, healthy, longer life. This helpful book allows you to ask the right questions, thus ensuring you get the right answers when seeking care for your dog. A few of the topics covered in this book:

    • Finding a qualified vet and clinic that you and your dog can agree on.
    • Sharpening your knowledge of vaccines, which ones are necessary and how often they should be given.
    • Avoiding dog-related debt with medical credit lines and pet insurance.
    • Knowing when to get a second opinion, and how to do it without offending anyone.
    • Supporting your pup through cancer diagnosis, staging, and therapy.
    • Abiding by the 10 Commandments of Veterinary Office Visits to help relieve your dog’s anxiety.
    • Learning common symptoms that indicate a when a vet visit is warranted, and what information you should have ready to give to the vet when you get there.

    According to Dr. Kevin T. Fitzgerald of Animal Planet’s Emergency Vets and E.R. Vets: The Interns, “It is easy to write overly sentimental ‘fluff’ about dogs. It is much harder to write consistent, strong, useful information that is actually helpful. Dr. Kay’s insightful Speaking for Spot is a comprehensive, long-needed work. I know of no other book of its kind for the American public that tackles the topic in such detail. Speaking for Spot is of tremendous practical value to dog lovers and should be mandatory reading for veterinarians.”

  • Advice for new pet guardians

  • 1. 101 Things You Should Know Before Getting a Dog, by Beth Philley. Written by our own blog writer, The Dog Lady, this book is a must-have for anyone who loves dogs, especially those who might be considering sharing their home with a dog for the first time. It gives practical advice about the expectations people may have upon getting a puppy. The idea is to slow down the flow of dogs going to shelters because the people who bring them home don't have any idea of how they will act. It is available in soft cover here. (Use discount code HW5UFEP4 to receive $2.00 off the cover price), or you can download it as an e-book here.

These books can provide you with hours of cheap entertainment, and any of them would make a great gift for the dog-lover in your life.

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