Friday, August 10, 2012

Reading Lists - Non-Fiction Dog Narratives

They star in movies.  They survive shipwrecks and live on desert islands.  They stop robberies and solve crimes.  They provide service to the needy.  Perhaps most importantly, they fill our lives with love, joy, and excitement.  Yes, dogs truly are man’s best friend.  Here is a list of true stories involving our fine four-legged friends:

A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz
Best-selling author Dean Koontz’s A Big Little Life may be quite different from his suspense novels, but fans of the writer and dog lovers of all kinds  will enjoy this entertaining and emotional narrative.  Koontz and his wife become first-time dog owners after many years of marriage, and the book tells how Trixie, a Golden Retriever, enriches their lives in unexpected ways.

Born to Bark by Stanley Coren
Psychologist and canine expert Coren, author of many dog training manuals, shares the story of the beloved pet that inspired his research.  In training Flint, a rambunctious but lovable Cairn Terrier, Coren gains new insight into the complex inner lives of our canine companions. 
A Famous Dog’s Life by Sue Chipperton
A Famous Dog’s Life is the biography of Gidget, a Chihuaha famous for a series of Taco Bell commercials.  Told by her owner and trainer, it is an insightful behind-the-scenes account of a dog trainer’s job in Hollywood.  Also included are many delightful anecdotes of Gidget’s life among the stars. 

A Friend Like Henry by Nuala Gardner
Gardner tells the story of her autistic son Dale and the dog that dramatically changed his life.  The family sees almost instantaneous results when they adopt Henry, a Golden Retriever puppy, to help Dale cope with his autism.  Readers will be brought to tears as Henry helps Dale open up to the world around him. 

Last Dog on the Hill by Steve Duno
When Steve Duno finds an injured Rottweiler mix on a hill by the side of a country road, he rescues the puppy, nurses him back to health, and christens him Lou. From these humble beginnings Lou goes on to amass a long list of impressive achievements, including stopping a rapist and preventing a robbery,  while also providing Steve with 16  years of devoted companionship.

Marley & Me by John Grogan
Marley, a Labrador Retriever, is the world’s worst dog.  He is full of energy and is always getting into trouble, yet Grogan and his family love the adorable rascal anyway.  The author goes into great detail about Marley’s 13 years with the Grogans, from his hilarious puppy mishaps to his heartbreaking final days.  A perfect read for anyone who has adopted a dog as a member of the family.    
Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote
Ted discovers Merle, a Labrador mix, while on a camping trip and decides to bring him home.  Once there, Ted gives Merle the freedom to come and go as he pleases, and the two strike up a unique friendship in which both man and dog learn a great deal from each other.  Merle’s Door is a fascinating book that will cause dog owners to rethink their relationships with their pets.
My Dog Skip by Willie Morris
My Dog Skip is a heartfelt memoir about a boy and his dog growing up together in Mississippi in the  1940s.  The tender nostalgia of Morris’s descriptions of a bygone era merge beautifully with his fond memories of his adventures with Skip, his Fox Terrier.  

Part Wild by Ceiridwen Terrill
Part husky and part wolf, Inoyo is adopted by the author for protective purposes.  As Terrill tries to train Inoyo, she begins to question whether the wolfdog can ever be completely tamed.  An engaging mixture of personal testimony and thorough research, Part Wild is extremely informative and powerfully moving. 

Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean
The history of Rin Tin Tin, the famous German Shepherd of countless films, is so amazing that one might believe the story was taken straight from a movie.  Found in the bombed remains of a dog kennel near a battlefield in France during World War I, Rin Tin Tin was brought back to Hollywood, where he would become the biggest box-office draw in the nation.

Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson
Charleson and her Golden Retriever, Puzzle, work together as a search-and-rescue team for the Metro Area Rescue K9 unit in Dallas, Texas. Charleson writes about her decision to become involved in search-and-rescue, the intense training she and Puzzle must undergo, and the difficult but rewarding nature of the job.

Sophie: The Incredible True Story of the Castaway Dog by Emma Pearse
A genuinely remarkable tale, Sophie relates the details of an Australian cattle dog’s unbelievable adventures as a castaway.  When Sophie is lost at sea during a storm, she beats incredible odds by swimming six miles to a deserted island, where she survives for five months before being reunited with her owners.

Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalván  
Tuesday is a Golden Retriever with trust issues.  Luis is an Iraq War veteran struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and physical injuries.  When Luis is given Tuesday as a service dog, an incredible bond is formed that brings healing into the life of each. 

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