The best dog books to tug on your heartstrings

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m passionate about animals. When I was starting out in my 20s, I worked as a vet tech and a dog trainer and fully intended to make a career in animals. But along the way my other love, art, joined the dance. It’s only natural I’ve found ways to combine my two loves, like, illustrating a veterinarian's advice column for Family Dog magazine, and writing, Don’t Lick the Dog, and Nanny Paws, both inspired by my own beloved dogs.


I wrote...

Book cover of Don't Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs

What is my book about?

My standard poodle, Andy, was afraid of children. I wrote and illustrated Don’t Lick the Dog, to help kids (and dogs!) feel safe together. Don’t Lick the Dog, was selected as a 2010 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, starred for Outstanding Merit, and accepted to the Society of Illustrators Original Art show. 

“I’m passionate about helping children (and their parents) understand how best to safely interact with dogs, and this book perfectly encapsulates my philosophies on the matter in a really fun and engaging way.” Victoria Stilwell, host of It's Me or the Dog

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Dog Songs: Poems

Wendy Wahman Why did I love this book?

Mary Oliver writes about her dogs, and slice of life observations of them with so much heart, wit, and compassion. The compassion isn't just for her dogs and her own heart but for us, her dog-lovesick readers too. I feel closer to my dogs, here and passed, humming Mary Oliver’s, Dog Songs.

In "A Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night,” Mary’s dog Percy says, with his eyes:

“Tell me you love me,” he says.
“Tell me again.”

Could there be a sweeter arrangement?
Over and over
“Tell me you love me,” he says.
“Tell me again.”

Could there be a sweeter arrangement?
Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.”

By Mary Oliver,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dog Songs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The popularity of [Dog Songs] feels as inevitable and welcome as a wagging tail upon homecoming' Boston Globe

In Dog Songs, Mary Oliver celebrates the special bond between human and dog, as understood through her connection to the dogs who across the years accompanied her on her daily walks, warmed her home and inspired her work. The poems in Dog Songs begin in the small everyday moments familiar to all dog lovers and become, through her extraordinary vision, meditations on the world and our place in it.

Dog Songs includes visits with old friends, like Oliver's most beloved dog Percy,…


Book cover of Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival

Wendy Wahman Why did I love this book?

A dog and a cat are left behind when Hurricane Katrina strikes. Rescuers dub them, “The Bobbies” because of their bobbed tails. The two are inseparable, and the dog Bobbie is fiercely protective of the Bobbie cat, who we later learn is totally reliant on him for her survival. The Bobbies are rescued, and we’re reminded how many “helpers,” as Mr. Rogers’ mother would say, there are in the world.

By Kirby Larson, Mary Nethery, Jean Cassels (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Two Bobbies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

from Newbery award winning author Kirby Larson comes a remarkable true story of the devotion, friendship, and survival of two pets left behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In the tradition of Owen and Mzee, this beautiful picture book is a testament to the spirit that defined post-Katrina rescue missions.

During Hurricane Katrina, evacuating New Orleans residents were forced to leave their pets behind. Bobbi the dog was initially chained to keep her safe, but after her owners failed to return, she had to break free. For months, Bobbi wandered the city's ravaged streets-dragging her chain behind her-followed by…


Book cover of This Old Dog

Wendy Wahman Why did I love this book?

I have a huge soft spot for old dogs. They’re like stiff, fragile children, needing our extra tender care.

Martha wrote this story remembering her old dog when her daughter was born. Old dog likes to take things slow and is sad how life’s sped up since “the girl” was born. But when the girl starts to walk… Walk?! Old dog and new girl literally find common ground: smelling the grass and rolling in it. They take walks together, nice and slow, discovering and delighting in things together, as old dogs and young children do. It’s love that keeps us going.

By Martha Brockenbrough, Gabriel Alborozo (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Old Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

When so much of the world is new, you want to go slowly. to stop and enjoy everything; hills to roll down, perfect-sized rocks, trees that seem to whisper their thoughts. It's the same when you're much, much older, and every time 'round the seasons seems precious. Yet the folks in the middle (we know who we are) are always rushing, rushing, rushing. Appointments to make, trains to catch, places to be, FAST.

That's what makes the bond between old dog and the little girl so special. From the time she takes her first steps, old dog finds someone -…


Book cover of My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts

Wendy Wahman Why did I love this book?

Adopters of elderly animals are everyday saints. In, My Old Dog, we get to meet some dog saints (including George Clooney), and the sweet oldsters they’ve opened their hearts and homes to. This is a tenderly written book — and I’m not surprised: Laura Coffey has one of the biggest, most generous hearts I’ve ever known. Lori’s photos will make you weep, smile, and go, “Aw.” There’s a poignant foreword by Neko Case, and in the chapter, How You Can Help, wonderful advice from Dr. Marty Becker, and trainer and behaviorist, Mikkel Becker.

Now, go snuggle with your old dog.

By Laura T. Coffey, Lori Fusaro (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Old Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

National Bestseller

“No Dog Should Die Alone" was the attention-grabbing — and heart-stirring — headline of journalist Laura T. Coffey’s TODAY show website story about photographer Lori Fusaro’s work with senior shelter pets. While generally calm, easy, and already house-trained, these animals often represent the highest-risk population at shelters. With gorgeous, joyful photographs and sweet, funny, true tales of “old dogs learning new tricks,” Coffey and Fusaro show that adopting a senior can be even more rewarding than choosing a younger dog. You’ll meet endearing elders like Marnie, the irresistible shih tzu who has posed for selfies with Tina Fey,…


Book cover of Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die

Wendy Wahman Why did I love this book?

I love and grieve hard. Sometimes debilitatingly so. When I lost my first cat, Olif, I couldn’t go in my studio for a year. Without my best boy in there with me, just crossing the threshold triggered a kind of PTSD, and I’d buckle under the grief. I finally saw a therapist and got the help I needed to move forward.

Books can help us with our grief too, and Going Home is one that’s helped me. Glancing through it now, I see I’ve opened straight to the chapter, “Guilt.” Yea, that one’s insidious, isn’t it. Katz covers them all: All the thoughts that needle and jab, all the emotions that drown, then drain us. Maybe, Going Home will help you too. Hold it on your lap where your beloved once was. And I will too.

By Jon Katz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Going Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this invaluable guide and touchstone, New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz addresses the difficult but necessary topic of saying goodbye to a beloved pet. Drawing on personal experiences, stories from fellow pet owners, and philosophical reflections, Katz provides support for those in mourning. By allowing ourselves to grieve honestly and openly, he posits, we can in time celebrate the dogs, cats, and other creatures that have so enriched us. Katz compels us to consider if we gave our pets good lives, if we were their advocates in times of need, and if we used our best judgments in…


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Transforming Pandora

By Carolyn Mathews,

Book cover of Transforming Pandora

Carolyn Mathews Author Of Transforming Pandora

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Creator Meditator Messenger Shopaholic

Carolyn's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Transforming Pandora, women's fiction with a metaphysical undercurrent, is written with humour and a light touch. As the plot slips between two time frames, separated by more than thirty years, the reader explores her life and loves: her ups and downs.

In the opening chapter, Pandora is attempting to come to terms with her husband's death. At a friend's suggestion, she reluctantly attends an evening of clairvoyance, after which her life is transformed by a mysterious spirit who sets her on a new path.

Her romantic life is reignited when she encounters a new man, but complicated by the appearance of a significant figure from her past. At the same time her spiritual life is presented with a challenge when she's offered the chance of enlightenment via a heavenly correspondence course. Her quest in life to find her true purpose is within her reach. Will she grasp this opportunity? Or will she choose love over light?

Transforming Pandora

By Carolyn Mathews,

What is this book about?

Pandora, 51, childless, and still beautiful, is attempting to come to terms with her husband's death. Having a history of being drawn to the esoteric, yet remaining a healthy sceptic, she reluctantly attends an evening of clairvoyance and raises a spirit who sets her on a new path...


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