Recommend some good books about dogs!
December 10, 2012 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Recommend some good books about dogs!

My mom likes nonfiction books and memoirs about dogs! In the past, she's enjoyed books like My Dog Tulip and Merle's Door, although in the latter case I specifically marked the page where she was to stop reading before things got too sad.

Other animal book recommendations are also welcome; she's enjoyed The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, for example, and The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood.

Is there anything especially good or new in this vein that I might be missing?

Books without depressing endings much preferred.

No cats, please.
posted by infinitywaltz to Writing & Language (26 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Eileen Battersby's Ordinary Dogs is a lovely one, and if you have any familiarity with the Irish Times she is a great fiction reviewer too.
posted by jamesonandwater at 3:04 PM on December 10, 2012

Oh and for non-dog books The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary was one I really liked recently. It is mostly optimistic as the chimps are recovering from their lives in a medical testing facility, but they do have a challenging life trying to get better.
posted by jamesonandwater at 3:11 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can't possibly go wrong with James Herriot. There's a collection of dog stories, though all of his stuff is great. The tale of Cedric the farting Boxer had me laughing until there were tears.
posted by cmyk at 3:13 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I haven't specifically read this, but I've read a number of James Herriots' books and loved them all.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:14 PM on December 10, 2012

Not so new, but not to be missed if you like dog stories:
The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, by Farley Mowat
Red Dog, by Louis deBernieres
posted by Corvid at 3:21 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:27 PM on December 10, 2012

Best answer: My Lead Dog Was a Lesbian by a guy who ended up running the Iditarod with a sled dog team.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:53 PM on December 10, 2012

This may sound odd, but the beautiful little book The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is just wonderful. I don't keep many books that I read, but I have kept and loaned this little gem.
posted by michellenoel at 3:58 PM on December 10, 2012

Steinbeck's Travels with Charley is a really wonderful book about a trip he and his dog Charley took across America.
posted by aviatrix at 4:07 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Great suggestions here! And cmyk and It's Never Lurgi, my mom adores James Herriot, as do I (his writing was my inspiration to pursue the animal science program at U.C. Davis, as a pre-veterinary track).
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:09 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I heard that One Nation Under Dog is good. The book, not the movie. Well, I heard that the movie is good but sad on par with Less Than Zero or Requiem for a Dream.
posted by kat518 at 4:13 PM on December 10, 2012

What the Dog Did: Tales from a Formerly Reluctant Dog Owner, by Emily Yoffe. It's a fun book about her journey as a cat person who finds herself opening her home to beagles. Emily Yoffe is "Dear Prudence" the advice columnist from and The Washington Post. I love her humor and writing style, and she is very positive and self-deprecating at the same time.
posted by belau at 4:22 PM on December 10, 2012

I received the book, The Hidden Life of Dogs by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas when I was a kid (I was incredibly obsessed with dogs) and it still has a treasured spot on my bookshelf. A wonderful non-fiction memoir/study on the lives of dogs and how they fit into our lives as humans.
posted by ruhroh at 4:33 PM on December 10, 2012

I've read countless books about dogs but am currently blanking apart from these two lovely books by Stephen Foster:
- Walking Ollie: Or Winning the Love of a Difficult Dog
- Fetching Dylan: A True Tale of Canine Domestication in Leaps and Bounds

This one is in my to read pile:
Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love

Recommended to me but I've not bought it yet:
Last Dog on the Hill

(You want to avoid depressing endings so I can't recommend Paul Auster's Timbuktu for your mom but it should appear in any list of "good books about dogs".)
posted by humph at 4:47 PM on December 10, 2012

Just remembered that this is also in the To Read pile, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.
posted by humph at 4:51 PM on December 10, 2012

In the Company of Newfies, by Rhoda Lerman, is wonderful. The author writes about her experiences raising/breeding/showing Newfoundlands, and her relationships with her dogs. It's a great read for any dog lover (not just those of us who love newfs).
posted by Boogiechild at 5:33 PM on December 10, 2012

I, too, am a real lover of dog books. I love My Dog Tulip (along with the rest of Ackerley's books), and if she hasn't seen the animated movie of the book, she should give herself the pleasure.

Jon Katz has written a series of very good books about dogs. I particularly like the first four on that list. He also wrote a Slate column for a while, which I'm sure you can find.

Winterdance is a very good book by Gary Paulsen about running the Iditarod. Dogs are not the explicit focus, but it is very much about dogs.

The best book, hand's down, that I've ever read about dogs is called Dog's Best Friend, by Mark Derr. It's a combination of a dog memoir, and a natural history of dogs. I've read it twice, which is weird to do with a nonfiction book of that type. It's great.
posted by OmieWise at 5:51 PM on December 10, 2012

Drake, by Craig Kivi, is a wonderful book about his relationship with his Golden Retriever, Drake.
posted by HuronBob at 6:09 PM on December 10, 2012

Inside of a Dog by Andrea Horowitz explores dog biology and behavior from an evolutionary, biological, and animal behavior perspective and it is AWESOME.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:41 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I bet your mom would LOVE it Emma and I. When I was a kid, I read it so many times I lost count. It's a memoir about the author's experience learning to work with her first guide dog, a chocolate lab named (Emma). I am so glad this book has been reissued!

Another book I really liked was Jacqueline Susann's Every Night, Josephine! It's a really funny and sweet story about her French poodle. Yes, it is by that Jacqueline Susann, but it is just a great memoir about her life with her dog. I read it when I was a kid and it was totally appropriate for any age. It seems to be out of print but you can get used copies for reasonable prices.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:28 PM on December 10, 2012

I was also coming to recommend Jon Katz. His stories about his dogs and other animals on his farm are sometimes sad, but terrific nonetheless.
posted by feidr2 at 7:32 PM on December 10, 2012

Not just about any dog, this one's about a pug. Clara, The Early Years: The Story of the Pug Who Ruled My Life
posted by Wordwoman at 8:43 PM on December 10, 2012

I just recently read this non-fiction book about a search and rescue dog, and her handler's relationship with her as she raised and trained the dog from a puppy. Really fascinating, and as a dog person I really enjoyed it.
posted by olinerd at 9:46 PM on December 10, 2012

Here's a good start. Scroll past the first entry. My mom loved these, too. Not listed here is "The Daily Coyote" and "A Big Little Life."
posted by R2WeTwo at 12:22 AM on December 11, 2012

Books about how pets have changed people's lives have become a trend over the past couple of years, ever since Marley & Me was published. I walked out to our non-fiction shelves here at my library and within 2 minutes found these:

Oogy: The Dog Only A Family Could Love by Larry Levin

Bad Dog: A Love Story by Martin Kihn

The Dogs of Bedlam Farm: An Adventure with Sixteen Sheep, Three Dogs, Two Donkeys, and Me by Jon Katz

A Good Dog: A Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life by Jon Katz

Huck: The Remarkable True Story of How One Lost Puppy Taught a Family - And A Whole Town - About Hope and Happy Endings by Janet Elder

The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship by Joanna Burger

Alex & Me: How a Scientist & a Parrot Uncovered A Hidden World of Animal Intelligence - and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene M. Pepperberg

Rescue Ink: How Ten Guys Saved Countless Dogs and Cats, Twelve Horses, Five Pigs, One Duck, and a Few Turtles by Rescue Ink with Denise Flaim

Born to Bark: My Adventures with an Irrepressible and Unforgettable Dog by Stanley Coren

The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout by Jill Abramson
posted by stampsgal at 10:00 AM on December 11, 2012

Response by poster: We went with My Lead Dog's a Lesbian, but lots of great suggestions here for future gifts (and stuff I want to read myself). Thanks, everyone!
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:25 PM on December 21, 2012

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