The best heart-melting, life affirming books about the bond between a dog & his human

Sam Angus Author Of Soldier Dog
By Sam Angus

The Books I Picked & Why

Greyfriars Bobby

By Eleanor Atkinson

Greyfriars Bobby

Why this book?

This made an enormous impression on me. You will not get through it dry-eyed. Whenever I come across any highland terrier on any street anywhere, I remember little Bobby sleeping for fourteen cold long years beside the grave of Auld Jock and I see all the great love that a dog can have for his human. A classic, based on a true story, published first in 1912.


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The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Why this book?

This has everything you could ask for: originality, wit, humour, bottomless humanity, and a deeply satisfying, uplifting ending. If you love animals, you won’t be able to put it down, you’ll cry and you’ll smile, you’ll feel heartbroken, you’ll feel hopeful and, when you’re done, ever afterward, you’ll remember it.


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The Call of the Wild & White Fang

By Jack London

The Call of the Wild & White Fang

Why this book?

One story is about a dog and the other is about a wolf, so they’re companion books and mirrors to each other. Both are deeply atmospheric, transporting you to the isolated, raw, cruel wastes of the frozen north, to the world of famine, brutality, and the survival of the fittest. Both stories examine primal instincts: How much dog there is in wolf, how much wolf there is in dog, and how the balance of the primal canine instinct can be tipped by trust in man. Read each one in a day and you’ll never forget them.


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Where the Red Fern Grows

By Wilson Rawls

Where the Red Fern Grows

Why this book?

Unlike my other recommendations, this story is about a boy and two dogs, so it is not only about the boy's love for the dogs but about the dogs’ love for each other. It’s also a story about childhood, about freedom and wilderness, about courage and determination and loyalty, about love and heartbreak. It’s a devastating, beautiful tribute to childhood, to adolescence, to family and to love.


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Lassie Come-Home

By Eric Knight, Marguerite Kirmse

Lassie Come-Home

Why this book?

When I was very young, we had a golden retriever called Nesta. While we were away on holiday one year Nesta was put in kennels. Clearly, she thought that she was there by mistake and that her duty was to find us, so she dug herself out of the kennels, crossed three very busy roads, and somehow, with that extraordinary homing instinct a dog can have, made her way back to our house - a distance of 15 km. When we finally returned, there she was at the door, starving and weak, but happy and supremely confident that she’d done the right thing. If you’ve ever had a dog do that, then Lassie is the story for you. The movie is good but has nothing on the book which should be part of everyone’s growing up: the family’s poverty, the dog’s courage, and loyalty - all this has stayed with me, become part of my marrow and I now, finally, perhaps 40 years after reading Lassie, have a collie of my own.


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