The best books about dogs who rescue us as much as we rescue them

Who am I?

I made so many mistakes with my first German shepherd, Isis, that I wrote a book about her in hopes of saving other people from the same heartbreak and frustration. Then I wound up living with two more German shepherds with similar challenges. Our current dog, Bailey, was undersocialized before we met her, but our past experience showed us how to help her live her best life anyway. My dogs have enriched my life so much that my favorite books are about the ways they save us as much as we save them. 

I wrote...

Bark and Lunge: Saving My Dog from Training Mistakes

By Kari Neumeyer,

Book cover of Bark and Lunge: Saving My Dog from Training Mistakes

What is my book about?

How do you make sure the dog you love never bites anyone (again)? Kari and Rob are as devoted to their German shepherd puppy, Isis, as two dog parents can be. Kari’s the disciplinarian, struggling to follow every instruction to the letter. Rob’s the laid-back dad, more of a littermate, happy as long as he can practice jiu-jitsu with the dog.

As she grows, Isis’s behavior escalates from frustrating to dangerous when she bites someone. Kari and Rob learn that some of the old-fashioned advice they followed may have contributed to Isis’s aggression. Eventually, they’re shown a better way to calm an anxious and fearful dog.

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The books I picked & why

The Dogs of Babel

By Carolyn Parkhurst,

Book cover of The Dogs of Babel

Why did I love this book?

I think about this novel nearly every day when I refill my dog’s water dish. See, the main character, Paul, wants to teach his dog, a Rhodesian ridgeback named Lorelei, to talk so she can tell him how his wife, Lexy, died. He starts by trying to get Lorelei to say “water,” and in doing so, he takes a drink from her water dish and makes a note to use soap next time he cleans it.

That’s an extremely small part of what stuck with me. The novel depicts depression and grief, and the role a dog can play in a family. My heart broke for the dog when she searched the house for her dead owner. I finished the book with tears streaming down my face, which I promptly buried in my dog’s chest.

By Carolyn Parkhurst,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Dogs of Babel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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.

Book cover of The Midnight Dog Walkers: Positive Training and Practical Advice for Living with Reactive and Aggressive Dogs

Why did I love this book?

This book also made me cry, because I related to it so much. When my dog’s behavior kept getting worse on a leash, and then when she bit someone, I felt very much alone. I felt like no one understood what I was going through, and I didn’t understand what was wrong with my dog. I wish this book existed then. It contains all the lessons it took me years to learn. Phenix explains what it means for a dog to be above the threshold and how to use counterconditioning to unring that bell. She also debunks the myth that walking a dog more will solve the problem. Not true when those uncontrollable triggers encountered on walks stack on top of one another, pushing the dog over the threshold and increasing their reactivity.

By Annie Phenix,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Aggression is a subject that no dog owner wants to talk about, but one that many owners have to face. Statistics show that aggression is not only the most serious problem in dogs but also the top reason for owners to seek out professional help for their pets. Left unchecked, an aggressive dog can become a dangerous dog, and this informative volume comes to the aid of many heartbroken owners who feel that they have tried everything to correct their dogs' unpredictable and inappropriate behavior. Author and certified dog trainer Annie Phenix shares her belief that many reactive dogs can…

Book cover of Part Wild: Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs

Why did I love this book?

Part wolf encyclopedia, part memoir about a woman raising a companion wolfdog. Terrill makes a lot of the same mistakes naive dog owners make, only the stakes are higher because Inyo is more volatile and more aggressive than your average canine. This is also the story of Terrill’s emotional health and interpersonal relationships. It’s a cautionary and heartbreaking tale about bringing a wild animal into your home and your heart.

By Ceiridwen Terrill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Part Wild is the unforgettable story of Ceiridwen Terrill's journey with a creature whose heart is divided between her bond to one woman and her need to roam free. When Terrill adopts a wolfdog- part husky, part gray wolf-named Inyo to be her protector and fellow traveler, she is drawn to Inyo's spark of wildness; compelled by the great responsibility, even danger, that accompanies the allure of the wild; and transformed by the extraordinary love she shares with Inyo, who teaches Terrill how to carve out a place for herself in the world.

Over almost four years, Terrill and Inyo's…

Book cover of Hit by a Flying Wolf: True Tales of Rescue, Rehabilitation and Real Life with Dogs and Wolves

Why did I love this book?

Speaking of wolves, this book describes how wolves and wolfdogs can be safely contained and cared for. Author Nicole Wilde ran Villalobos Rescue Center back when it was a wolf rescue, and is also a specialist in domestic dog behavior. In this book, she opens up about the struggles she had with some of her own dogs. It’s very reassuring to read about experts having the same problems we do. Not only does Wilde describe the animals vividly in prose, but her photographs also are stunning. It bums me out when photos in dog books are grainy and black and white, or worse, when there are no photos at all. I want to see the dogs!

By Nicole Wilde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hit by a Flying Wolf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner 2015 Silver Award Benjamin Franklin Awards! Have you ever had to save a wolf from a rattlesnake? Or rehabilitate a dog who eats furniture and major appliances? Have you chased a stray wolf down suburban streets in the thick of a winter storm? Nicole Wilde has done all of those things and more. As a professional dog trainer and canine behavior specialist, executive director of a wolf rescue, and long-time Dog Mom, Nicole not only shares wildly fascinating stories of rescuing, training, and living with dogs and wolves, but also offers heartfelt insight into how she solved problems and…

Book cover of Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him

Why did I love this book?

I debated whether to include this book because the author, Iraq war veteran Luis Carlos Montalván, apparently took his own life a few years after it was written, just before the sequel was published. Does that mean Tuesday didn’t “save” Montalván as the title says? I finished this book wishing that every returning service member could be given a service animal to help navigate their lives after experiencing psychological and often physical trauma. I didn’t warm up to the story right away, because it begins with a description of Tuesday’s training before the author knew him. Tuesday comes alive as a character when Montalván describes their strengthening relationship. Regardless of how the story ended, the healing power of their bond is miraculous and Tuesday did enrich Montalván’s life for the years they were together.

By Luis Carlos Montalván, Bret Witter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A heartwarming dog story like no other: Tuesday, a lovable golden retriever, changes a former soldier's life forever.

A highly decorated captain in the U.S. Army, Luis Montalvan never backed down from a challenge during his two tours of duty in Iraq. After returning home from combat, however, his physical wounds and crippling post-traumatic stress disorder began to take their toll. He wondered if he would ever recover.

Then Luis met Tuesday, a sensitive golden retriever trained to assist the disabled. Tuesday had lived among prisoners and at a home for troubled boys, and he found it difficult to trust…

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