The best books on rescue dogs

Who am I?

I’ve been passionate about dogs and rescue dogs in particular since I got my first little rescue pup for Christmas when I was six years old. Tippy, a perfect blend of poodle and cocker spaniel, lived until my second year of law school. I’ve volunteered with several rescue organizations, transported dogs, fostered dogs, adopted dogs, and, oh, I also wrote three books about rescue dogs. Dogs are my passion, and books are a very close second, so naturally, dog books are kind of my thing. I hope you love these books as much as I do.


I wrote...

Poppy in the Wild: A Lost Dog, Fifteen Hundred Acres of Wilderness, and the Dogged Determination that Brought Her Home

By Teresa J. Rhyne,

Book cover of Poppy in the Wild: A Lost Dog, Fifteen Hundred Acres of Wilderness, and the Dogged Determination that Brought Her Home

What is my book about?

Teresa Rhyne fosters dogs in need, including Poppy, a small, frightened beagle rescued from the China dog meat trade. The elation of rescue quickly turns to hysteria when Poppy breaks free from a potential adopter during a torrential thunderstorm and disappears into a rugged wilderness park, bordered by a busy road.

In the quest to find Poppy, Teresa works with rescue specialists, volunteers, psychics, a Native American who communes with owls, helpful neighbors, decidedly unhelpful strangers, a howling woman, police, crushing dead ends, glimmers of hope, and her own emotional and physical limits.  Meanwhile, Poppy encounters heavy rains, a homeless encampment, the Sheriff, a series of strangers, hawks, and, ultimately, a community willing to do anything to protect rather than harm her. Through their journey, Poppy and Teresa both discover just what home means.

The books I picked & why

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Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs

By Cara Sue Achterberg,

Book cover of Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs

Why this book?

Fostering dogs is an important part of dog rescue, and Achterberg perfectly captures the joy and heartbreak of fostering. Her devotion to dogs became her family’s shared passion, which beautifully demonstrates how when we rescue dogs, they rescue us in return.

I love how the author unabashedly allowed the reader in to see not just the fluffy puppies and cuteness, but the hard work, the mistakes, the difficulties, and ultimately the “how and why” of the important work of fostering. Fostering saves lives, and Another Good Dog is a brilliant testimony to this fact.


Craig & Fred: A Marine, a Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other

By Craig Grossi,

Book cover of Craig & Fred: A Marine, a Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other

Why this book?

This may be the ultimate stray dog rescue story. Craig (the human) rescues Fred (the dog) from a war zone in a remote part of Afghanistan. What Craig goes through to bring this dog home to the US is astounding. And Fred is one of those instantly lovable, charming dogs whose personality shines through in Craig’s writing. In many ways, this book crosses genres—dog book, memoir, adventure, military, and thriller (I held my breath while reading several times!).


Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway

By Peter Zheutlin,

Book cover of Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway

Why this book?

Just as fostering is an important part of animal rescue, transporting dogs from shelters and pound to rescues and permanent homes in other areas is crucial. In Rescue Road, author Peter Zheutlin introduces us to one unassuming, humble man who single-handedly has transported thousands of dogs from rural southern shelters where the animals had little hope of survival, to happy forever homes in parts north. Zheutlin travels with this hero, Greg Mahle, from Ohio to the Gulf Coast and back again, to share with us an incredible story of hard-luck dogs and the humans who work so hard to give them their happily-ever-afters. I loved reading about Mahle’s devotion to and love of these dogs, and cheered and cried with each rescue and adoption.


Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman's Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life

By Shannon Kopp,

Book cover of Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman's Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life

Why this book?

I love a story that deftly demonstrates how the dogs we rescue return the favor and then some. Shannon Kopp bravely shares her struggle with an eating disorder and how her work in an animal shelter encouraged and aided her recovery. Kopp’s story is harrowing and inspiring, and ultimately a tale of compassion.


Little Boy Blue: A Puppy's Rescue from Death Row and His Owner's Journey for Truth

By Kim Kavin,

Book cover of Little Boy Blue: A Puppy's Rescue from Death Row and His Owner's Journey for Truth

Why this book?

Author Kim Kavin is a journalist who had no idea the adorable brindle puppy she adopted in New Jersey and named Blue was actually a last-minute rescue from a gas chamber in North Carolina. Astounded, she sets out to learn Blue’s history and why and how van loads of dogs arrive in the northeast from southern states. Kavin’s journalism background is on full display in the book, which is one of the reasons I think this book is important. She does not take sides or paint anyone as “villain” or hero, but certainly offers enough facts for the reader to draw their own conclusions. Little Boy Blue is not always an easy read, but it’s an important one.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dogs, animal rescue, and animal shelters?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dogs, animal rescue, and animal shelters.

Dogs Explore 235 books about dogs
Animal Rescue Explore 16 books about animal rescue
Animal Shelters Explore 10 books about animal shelters

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts, Trinity: Military War Dog (A Breed Apart), and Stormy: A Story about Finding a Forever Home if you like this list.