The best picture books about rescued dogs

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been speaking up for animals since I learned to talk, and I haven’t shut up yet. My goal in writing books is to enlighten and inspire young readers to have compassion for all creatures great and small while making sure that my own empathy shines through on every page. Kids are thrilled when I bring along my rescued pets—dogs, rabbits, and a chinchilla—to book events, where I spread the “adopt, don’t shop” mantra. After volunteering at animal rescues for 30+ years, I’m excited to see so many pets getting a second chance!


I wrote...

The Duchess and Guy: A Rescue-To-Royalty Puppy Love Story

By Nancy Furstinger, Julia Bereciartu (illustrator),

Book cover of The Duchess and Guy: A Rescue-To-Royalty Puppy Love Story

What is my book about?

A heartwarming story about a beagle and the Duchess who adopted him, this picture book is inspired by the true story of Meghan Markle and her rescue dog, Guy. When he was a pup, Guy was just like any dog in the shelter; he liked to bark and follow his nose, and dreamed of a forever home above all things. But when Guy met Meghan, he had no idea he was about to star in his own Cinderella story.

This rags-to-riches story of how one regal beagle got a second chance at life is a happily-ever-after tail worth chasing!

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Buddy Unchained

Nancy Furstinger Why did I love this book?

If you have a passion for compassion, this book about a chained dog who is rescued from neglect will make you want to unchain all the Buddys in the world. The illustrations vibrate with this lovable mixed-breed’s emotions—ranging from despair to joy. From his happy new furever home, Buddy narrates his story, which will have an emotional resonance with even the youngest audiences. As Buddy says: “I have my real home. Now I have everything.” No matter how many times I read this book, the ending still tugs at my heartstrings.

By Daisy Bix, Joe Hyatt (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Buddy Unchained as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

2007 Winner, Humane Society of the US KIND Award, Best Children's Picture Book of the Year

2007 Winner, ASPCA HENRY BERGH AWARD, best Children's Picture Book in the Companion Animal category

“Buddy Unchained is a deeply moving look at a dog abandoned and adopted. The story is simple yet of vast importance, and at the end we want nothing more than to make sure that all the Buddys of the world are loved and cared for like this patient, easy-to-please pup.”— Janet Leimeister, Events Manager, The Capitola Book Store

“Buddy Unchained is a valuable tool in teaching the message of…


Book cover of A Day, a Dog

Nancy Furstinger Why did I love this book?

A book begs you to sit up and take notice when Maurice Sendak writes this cover blurb: “Astonishing drawings!...An entirely unique work of art.” This wordless picture book with remarkable charcoal sketches shows the heartwrenching abandonment of a dog and shocking aftermath. Does the open-ended finale offer a flicker of hope for our canine hero? You decide. No dialogue needed, but this book is sure to spur conversations with young animal lovers (keep tissues handy).

By Gabrielle Vincent,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Day, a Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

An abandoned dog's life ends in a triumph of resourcefulness in this wordless picture book.


Book cover of Black Dog

Nancy Furstinger Why did I love this book?

A quirky story about a ginormous canine and a fearless young heroine? Yes, please! And bonus points for starring a big black dog—the kind that blends into the shadows at humane societies and is, therefore, least likely to get adopted (and the kind that I always adopt). Tempera paintings of an eccentric family in their Gothic house juxtaposed with tiny sepia vignettes will spur kids to explore every inch. They’ll cheer as the dog shrinks down from the magnitude of a T-Rex to an adoptable size.

By Levi Pinfold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

An enormous black dog and a very tiny little girl star in this offbeat tale about confronting one’s fears.

When a huge black dog appears outside the Hope family home, each member of the household sees it and hides. Only Small, the youngest Hope, has the courage to face the black dog, who might not be as frightening as everyone else thinks.


Book cover of Orville: A Dog Story

Nancy Furstinger Why did I love this book?

In a story as mournful as a country song, a homeless big black dog resolves to lie down and never get up again. But he does find happiness, although it takes several tries. Themes of disappointment, loneliness, sorrow, yearning, and love are interwoven in the poetic text. As a bonus, Orville gleans people’s dearest wishes just by sniffing them. Watercolor and ink illustrations illuminate this poignant and powerful bond between a dog and his person.

By Haven Kimmel, Robert Andrew Parker (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A big, ugly dog is happy to meet a farmer and his wife who decide to give him a name and a home, but not so happy when they chain him to the barn. All Orville can do is bark to tell the world how unhappy he is, and the more he barks, the more he is left alone. But everything changes when Sally MacIntosh moves into the little house across the road and Orville falls in love.
A beautifully crafted text that blends wry humor with the poignant twang of a country-and-western song is accompanied by dreamy, spare watercolor-and-ink…


Book cover of Stormy: A Story about Finding a Forever Home

Nancy Furstinger Why did I love this book?

The suspense builds in this wordless book that conveys a heartwarming story about friendship. Gorgeous golden-hued illustrations form a connection between a scruffy dog who lives under a park bench and a woman devoted to earning his affection. In the nail-biting climax, a crackling storm rages until love and trust collide. But will the new pup feel secure enough to hop into the woman’s bed? Share this touching tale with young dog lovers and let them tell you how this powerful story ends!

By Guojing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the creator of the New York Times best-illustrated children's book award winner The Only Child, comes a gorgeous and moving wordless picture book that's perfect for dog lovers.

In this heartwarming, wordless picture book that's perfect for dog lovers, a woman visits a park and discovers a pup hiding under a bench--scruffy, scared, and alone. With gentle coaxing, the woman tries to befriend the animal, but the dog is too scared to let her near. Day after day, the woman tries--and day after day, the dog runs away. With perseverance and patience--and help from an enticing tennis ball--a tentative…


You might also like...

Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

By Rebecca Wellington,

Book cover of Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

Rebecca Wellington Author Of Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am adopted. For most of my life, I didn’t identify as adopted. I shoved that away because of the shame I felt about being adopted and not truly fitting into my family. But then two things happened: I had my own biological children, the only two people I know to date to whom I am biologically related, and then shortly after my second daughter was born, my older sister, also an adoptee, died of a drug overdose. These sequential births and death put my life on a new trajectory, and I started writing, out of grief, the history of adoption and motherhood in America. 

Rebecca's book list on straight up, real memoirs on motherhood and adoption

What is my book about?

I grew up thinking that being adopted didn’t matter. I was wrong. This book is my journey uncovering the significance and true history of adoption practices in America. Now, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the renewed debate over women’s reproductive rights places an even greater emphasis on adoption. As a mother, historian, and adoptee, I am uniquely qualified to uncover the policies and practices of adoption.

The history of adoption, reframed through the voices of adoptees like me, and mothers who have been forced to relinquish their babies, blows apart old narratives about adoption, exposing the fallacy that adoption is always good.

In this story, I reckon with the pain and unanswered questions of my own experience and explore broader issues surrounding adoption in the United States, including changing legal policies, sterilization, and compulsory relinquishment programs, forced assimilation of babies of color and Indigenous babies adopted into white families, and other liabilities affecting women, mothers, and children. Now is the moment we must all hear these stories.

Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

By Rebecca Wellington,

What is this book about?

Nearly every person in the United States is affected by adoption. Adoption practices are woven into the fabric of American society and reflect how our nation values human beings, particularly mothers. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, the renewed debate over women's reproductive rights places an even greater emphasis on adoption. As a mother, historian, and adoptee, Rebecca C. Wellington is uniquely qualified to uncover the policies and practices of adoption. Wellington's timely-and deeply researched-account amplifies previously marginalized voices and exposes the social and racial biases embedded in the United States' adoption industry.…


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