"Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet." - Collette
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 62 percent of American households had pets in 2012, with 83.3 million of them dogs, so it comes as no surprise that many loveable canines have found a spot in literature as well as our hearts. Below is a variety of titles guaranteed to get your tail wagging. (Book summaries provided by EBSCO NoveList Plus.)
A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog's search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, this touches on the universal quest for an answer to life's most basic question: Why are we here? Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey's search for his new life's meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8 year old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey's journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders, will he ever find his purpose? Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh out loud funny, this book is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog's many lives, but also a dog's eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man's best friend. This story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Nearing the end of his life, Enzo, a dog with a philosopher's soul, tries to bring together the family, pulled apart by a three year custody battle between daughter Zoe's maternal grandparents and her father Denny, a race car driver.
Dial C for Chihuahua by Curtis Waverly (A Barking Detective mystery)
Pepe, a talking chihuahua whose new owner Geri is the only one who can understand him, must help Geri on her first assignment for an eccentric investigator by dressing up in a sparkly costume for a reality TV show called Dancing With Dogs to sniff out a killer.
Dog Tags by David Rosenfelt (An Andy Carpenter mystery)
Dog-loving lawyer Andy Carpenter plunges into a high profile murder case in which a rogue German shepherd police dog may be the only hope for its owner, an Iraq war vet and former-cop-turned-thief accused of murder.
The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
Discovering clues that indicate his beloved wife may not have died accidentally, Paul Iverson begins a perilous search for the truth while attempting to teach his dog, who witnessed the crime, to communicate.
Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O'Hagan
Given as a Christmas present to Marilyn Monroe, Maf the dog provides keen insight into the world of the Hollywood starlet during the last two years of her life.
Lost & Found by Jacqueline SheehanStarting her life over after the death of her husband, a psychologist takes a job as an animal control warden and slowly heals from her grief through friendships with a young anorexic, an archery instructor, and an oversized dog.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
A tale reminiscent of "Hamlet" that also celebrates the alliance between humans and dogs follows speech-disabled Wisconsin youth Edgar, who bonds with three yearling canines and struggles to prove that his sinister uncle is responsible for his father's death.
This Dog for Hire by Carol Lea Benjamin
(Rachel Alexander and Dash mystery)
Private investigator Rachel Alexander and her pit bull, Dashiell, begin their search for a missing dog and refuse to leave the streets until they have sniffed out a murderer.
Walking in Circles Before Lying Down by Merrill Markoe
Dawn Tarnauer is twice divorced and is too busy job-hopping to start a career. Her current boyfriend insists on living "off the grid," and her Life Coach sister perpetually interferes with incomprehensible affirmations. Dawn's only source of security and comfort is Chuck, a pit-bull mix from the pound. So when her boyfriend announces that he's leaving her for another woman, a despairing Dawn turns to Chuck for solace. Dawn is stunned to learn that when she talks to Chuck and he talks back to her. She learns she can hear all dogs--and man's best friend has a lot to say.
Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan OrleanChronicles the rise of the iconic German shepherd character while sharing the stories of the real WWI dog and the canine performer in the 1950s television show, and explores Rin Tin Tin's relevance in the military and popular culture.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
Author John Steinbeck was 58 when he set out to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years. With his elderly French poodle, Charley, he embarked on a quest across America, from the northermost tip of Maine to California's Monterey Peninsula. Traveling the interstates and the country roads, they stopped to smell America: trucker and strangers, old friends and new acquaintances. Steinbeck's poignant, perceptive reflections reveal the American character: a blend of unexpected kindnesses and racial hostilities, loneliness and humor.
Uggie: My Story by Uggie (as barked to Wendy Holden)
The canine star of "The Artist" and "Water for Elephants" traces his rags-to-riches story as an abandoned shelter dog who rose to international stardom, and recounts his on-the-set experiences with celebrities.
Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls--One Flying Disc at a Time by Jim Gorant
Shares the tale of a pit bull rescued by a shelter volunteer who overcame considerable odds to become a World Champion competitive Frisbee dog.
If you're still begging for more, check out an issue of The Bark: The Modern Dog Culture Magazine, or Dog Fancy, and don't forget to tell us about your favorite animal character or book in the comments section.