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...

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.

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The books I picked & why

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

Why did I love 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.

By Cara Sue Achterberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Cara felt her teenaged children slipping away and saw an empty nest on the horizon, she decided the best way to fill that void was with dogs-lots of them-and so her foster journey began.

In 2015, her Pennsylvania farm became a haven for Operation Paws for Homes. There were the nine puppies at once, which arrived with less than a day's notice; a heart- worm positive dog; a deeply traumatized stray pup from Iraq; and countless others who just needed a gentle touch and a warm place to sleep. Operation Paws for Homes rescues dogs from high-kill shelters in…

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

Why did I love 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!).

By Craig Grossi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Craig & Fred as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heartwarming story of a stray dog and a U.S. Marine who met under the unlikeliest circumstances in Afghanistan—and who changed each other’s lives forever.

As part of an elite team of Marines, Craig Grossi was sent on his most dangerous assignment to the Sangin District of Afghanistan. He expected to face harsh conditions and violence from Taliban fighters.

What he didn’t expect was to meet a stray dog, with a big goofy head and little legs—a dog all on his own, filthy and covered in bugs, in a bomb-ridden district, but who carried himself with confidence. And even though…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Peter Zheutlin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Peter Zheutlin has written a lovely, moving, important book about a subject that is both heartbreaking and joyful." - Dean Koontz
How far would you go to save a life? This is the extraordinary story of one man who has driven more than 1 million miles to rescue thousands of dogs from hunger, abuse and neglect and give them a second chance at life and love.
For years, Greg Mahle struggled to keep the last of his family-run restaurants afloat in Ohio. When it finally closed, he was broke and unsure what to do next. Then a stranded van-load of…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Shannon Kopp,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The brave, inspiring story of one woman's recovery from a debilitating eating disorder, and the remarkable shelter dogs who unexpectedly loved her back to life. "The dogs don't judge me or give me a motivational speech. They don't rush me to heal or grow. They sit in my lap and lick my face and make me feel chosen. And sometimes, it hits me hard that I'm doing the exact thing I say I cannot do. Changing." Pound for Pound is an inspirational tale about one woman's journey back to herself, and a heartfelt homage to the four-legged heroes who unexpectedly…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Kim Kavin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Little Boy Blue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When journalist Kim Kavin decided that she wanted a puppy, she did what millions of people do every year: clicked on an online photo and submitted an application. She had no idea that the adorable brindle--advertised as healthy and near her home in New Jersey--was actually a last-minute rescue from a gas-chamber shelter in North Carolina. Blue had arrived in the Northeast with at least a dozen other dogs in an RV that is just one among countless transports whose sponsors are dedicating their efforts to saving dogs by any means possible. Blue was happy and friendly, but he seemed…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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