The best books on doggedly determined dogs undaunted by disability

The Books I Picked & Why

Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family

By Melissa Shapiro, MIM Eichler Rivas

Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family

Why this book?

Knowing I have a deaf dog, a reader sent me this non-fiction book, thinking I’d enjoy it. She was right! The author is very open and honest about the challenges she faced taking on a dog who was not only deaf but also blind. It was incredibly heartwarming to see Piglet grow from a fearful pup into an icon who inspires schoolchildren - and adults! - to adopt a can-do attitude. I liked that the author raised issues of animal welfare in the book, including the unfair treatment of animals used for medical experiments as disposable equipment and the horrific treatment of animals in factory farming. The book addresses many aspects of the human relationship to other creatures, and what we owe to animals who are at our mercy. 


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Suspect

By Robert Crais

Suspect

Why this book?

In this thriller, both the police officer and his newly assigned K-9 partner are suffering PTSD from horrific things they endured on the job. The police officer’s partner was killed months earlier as they tried to take down some criminals, and he can’t get past the survivor’s guilt. The dog, a German shepherd, lost her previous handler to an explosive that severely wounded her, as well. I loved how the book showed that all sentient creatures suffer and grieve, often in very similar ways. Animals are capable of incredible emotional depth. 


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Primal Force: A K-9 Rescue Novel

By D.D. Ayres

Primal Force: A K-9 Rescue Novel

Why this book?

In this romantic suspense novel, it’s veterans who are disabled rather than the dogs. The book stars a woman who trains canines to be service dogs for former military members. I enjoyed learning about the training process and everything the dogs can do for the people they serve, including the attractive romantic hero featured in the story. D.D. Ayres’s books are very well researched, and the reader comes away with quite a bit of knowledge. I like books with that kind of take-away value. The story was also very engaging, with the characters facing difficult challenges but finding hope and love through the process. 


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Hogan's Hope: A Deaf Hero's Inspirational Quest for Love and Acceptance

By Connie Bombaci

Hogan's Hope: A Deaf Hero's Inspirational Quest for Love and Acceptance

Why this book?

I was initially drawn to this book because it features a deaf Dalmatian. My dog Reggie is also deaf and likely part Dalmatian, given her white fur and black spots. She was found as a stray puppy and taken to the city animal shelter where we adopted her. We think Reggie is also part American bull terrier. She has a very similar build to that breed, with a barrel chest, pointy ears, and distinctive eye shape. Like the author of the book, I communicate with my deaf dog using hand signals. A deaf dog learns to pay close attention, and Reggie can communicate with amazing nuance. I loved how the book portrays the relationship between a dog and its guardian as a spiritual bond. I found that aspect extremely relatable. 


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The Adventures of Penny the Famous Three Legged Dog

By Joan Betzold, Kathy Kupka

The Adventures of Penny the Famous Three Legged Dog

Why this book?

This book is written from the dog’s point of view, is intended for children, and is clearly a labor of love by the author as a tribute to her Jack Russell terrier, Penny. The poor dog had a difficult start in life. She was the runt of the litter and born with dental problems. She initially lived in the country, became ensnared in a claw trap, and had to chew her leg off to escape. When her owner married someone with a larger dog who did not take kindly to Penny, finding a new home became necessary. Luckily, the author took her in and clearly adores her. The photos were cute and amusing, and it was uplifting that Penny found a good friend in Tansy, the author’s other dog. 


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