The best books about dogs as our teachers

Tammie Rogers Author Of Shamaron: Dog Devoted
By Tammie Rogers

The Books I Picked & Why

The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Why this book?

Love. Humor. Grief. Perseverance. Tragedy and loss. Yes, these are topics one might find beautifully detailed in many well-authored novels. This one is special because these human conditions are told from a dog’s perspective and it’s completely believable. The chronicles of Enzo’s existence are impeccably penned. Sharing his canine perspective with such realism is a feat of sheer mastery. Why? Because the lessons Stein strives to communicate are more palpable and poignant coming from an innocent and ego-less dog. We humans know we will never reach those virtues that dogs wear so effortlessly, and so we listen with a more open heart. 

As an author, knowing that my readers hear what I’m trying to say is a highly ranked goal. Stein achieves that in this earnest story.   


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All Creatures Great and Small: The Warm and Joyful Memoirs of the World's Most Beloved Animal Doctor

By James Herriot

All Creatures Great and Small: The Warm and Joyful Memoirs of the World's Most Beloved Animal Doctor

Why this book?

A few years ago, seeking inspiration for my next book, I revisited James Herriot’s work. As a kid, my already-keen love for animals was intensified through the colorful stories of this real-life English veterinarian. More so, I suspect my passion to become an author was awakened as I inhaled Herriot’s narratives which he articulates with great humility, humor, and wit. When I write, I strive to achieve those same, unassuming qualities. While this book isn’t specifically about dogs as our teachers, many of the true stories Harriot shares are about dogs (and their people) he meets during his exploits as a country vet. In the high-speed world in which we live, traveling back to a simpler, but not necessarily less complicated life can be enlightening.


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The Story of Rose: A Man and His Dog

By Jon Katz

The Story of Rose: A Man and His Dog

Why this book?

I received this book as a present from someone with whom I shared my life’s journey. By the end of the first chapter, I understood the point of the gift. Both Katz and I left the security of a big city job to pursue our passion by moving to the country alongside our beloved Border Collies. We were both transformed through our experiences which we share in our books. We both credit our loyal dogs for most of the lessons we learned along the way. Katz narrates his successes and shortcomings in stories that are entertaining, honest, and heartfelt. That is why this book belongs on my list of ‘best books about dogs as our teachers.’ 


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A Dog's Purpose: A Novel for Humans

By W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog's Purpose: A Novel for Humans

Why this book?

Few authors who attempt it succeed in producing a book narrated by a dog. But, Cameron thrives at the task. As a professional trainer, I can get hung up on the step-by-step processes of teaching dogs so much so that I forget their true calling is to teach us (if we only listen.) This book’s objective is, in part, to remind us of that purpose. Dogs selflessly remind us about the qualities of absolute acceptance, compassion, and unconditional love. And yet, dogs experience conditions – sometimes harsh and painful ones - and Cameron uses those to prompt us on how to be better humans. This book is full of twists and turns, most of which are unexpected, entertaining, and thought-provoking.  


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Lassie Come-Home

By Eric Knight, Marguerite Kirmse

Lassie Come-Home

Why this book?

I suppose it may seem cliché to suggest a book about Lassie – probably the most recognized dog in history – should grace my top five list. It was one of the first “big kid” books I read as a child and rereading it years later did not disappoint. First published in 1940, Lassie Come Home spurred movies and later television shows that entertained generations. This is the story of a dog’s triumph over tragedy as she continues her quest to get back home to the people she loves. The stories of how Lassie imparts her own wisdom upon the folks who help (and hinder) her travels are peppered throughout the book. That’s why I include Lassie Come Home on my list of best books about dogs as our teachers.


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