The best books for people who love sweet old dogs

Laura T. Coffey Author Of My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts
By Laura T. Coffey

Who am I?

I’m a dog nut who loves reflecting on the powerful life lessons we can learn as we watch our furry best friends age happily and gratefully by our sides. I’ve also been working as a journalist for more than 30 years now — so that makes me one of the oldest dogs in my own newsroom. I’m a senior writer and editor for the website of NBC’s TODAY show, and the My Old Dog book stemmed from a viral story I wrote about photographer Lori Fusaro’s efforts to change people’s perceptions of older shelter animals. Writing that story was one of the best things that ever happened to me!

I wrote...

My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts

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

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

What is my book about?

It’s difficult to describe how much fun I had writing the book My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts. I got to travel all over the country with hyper-talented photographer Lori Fusaro on a quest to find big-hearted animal lovers and the happy, sleepy, squishy, grateful senior dogs they rescued. Along the way, we spent time with George Clooney’s cocker spaniel, Einstein; Remy, a soulful 9-year-old dog adopted by elderly nuns; Bretagne, who was the last surviving 9/11 search dog from Ground Zero, and sooo many more amazing dogs and humans. We saw firsthand that older pooches may be slower moving and a tad less exuberant than puppies, but adopting a senior dog brings immeasurable joy, earnest devotion, and unconditional love.

The books I picked & why

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Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure

By David Rosenfelt,

Book cover of Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure

Why this book?

When photographer Lori Fusaro and I were traveling around the country working on our book together, we made a point of hightailing it to Maine so we could visit the idyllic retirement oasis created by author David Rosenfelt and his wife Debbie Myers for themselves and more than 20 large, geriatric rescue dogs. Rosenfelt’s book Dogtripping chronicles the couple’s cross-country retirement move from California to Maine with all those aging dogs in three RVs with the help of volunteers who were fans of Rosenfelt’s mystery novels. It’s a HOOT! You can watch a Facebook Live video of Rosenfelt discussing his Dogtripping book with me here at an event sponsored by The Grey Muzzle Organization, one of my favorite charities that helps senior dogs in need.

Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog

By Dave Barry,

Book cover of Lessons from Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog

Why this book?

I’ve been a fan of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author Dave Barry for decades, and his Lessons From Lucy book surprised me — not because it’s hilarious (of course it is!), but because it’s so profoundly moving. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I read it. Here’s what inspired the book: When Barry turned 70, he reflected on how unhappy he was about aging — in stark contrast with his blissed-out senior dog, Lucy. Barry noticed that Lucy was always ready for fun new adventures, eager to make new friends, and able to live in the moment. In this gem of a book, Barry explores the realities of the human condition and zeroes in on the real keys to contentment in life, all thanks to the love of a dog. 

Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs

By Gene Weingarten, Michael S. Williamson (photographer),

Book cover of Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs

Why this book?

The author’s bio in Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs says this of Gene Weingarten: “He wants his tombstone to read only: ‘Gene Weingarten, a funny man who loved dogs,’ and to be carved in the shape of a fire hydrant.” This gives you a sense of why Old Dogs has been one of my favorite books for years. It’s masterfully written by Weingarten, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for feature writing and former humor columnist for The Washington Post. (Fun side note: Weingarten is the editor who discovered Dave Barry years ago at the Miami Herald!) Old Dogs is a collection of profiles of sweet senior dogs — and you’ll love every pooch you meet in these pages. (I have a special soft spot for Harry and Honey!) 

Sophie...Best Friends are Forever

By Ted Slupik,

Book cover of Sophie...Best Friends are Forever

Why this book?

I wrote the foreword for Sophie...Best Friends are Forever because I believe in its message about the healing power of therapy dogs. In this book, Ted Slupik shares the story of his rough-coated collie Sophie, a loyal friend who eagerly visited patients in hospitals and nursing homes with him each week for more than 12 years. Sophie’s uncanny ability to connect with and comfort people at dark or challenging moments is sure to move you, as will Sophie’s greatest lesson: that every day is a gift. Here’s a happy and important side note: All net proceeds from sales of this book go to Lizzy’s Fund, another one of my favorite charities that helps senior dogs in need.

Unconditional: Older Dogs, Deeper Love

By Jane Klonsky,

Book cover of Unconditional: Older Dogs, Deeper Love

Why this book?

This National Geographic collection of photos and stories of sweet senior dogs is sure to make you swoon. Photographer Jane Sobel Klonsky loves animals and people, and her book is a celebration of the human-animal bond and all the endearing traits that make senior dogs so special. Unconditional is an excellent gift book for dog lovers. It’s also fun to follow Project Unconditional on Facebook and Instagram.

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