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Whether you’re looking for a heartwarming true story of loyalty and companionship or a simply-can’t-put-it-down novel that’ll inspire you to hold your four-legged best friends a little closer, you’ll find it in this list of 10 new dog books to read in 2021.
By Martha Teichner
There’s a special camaraderie among early-morning dog walkers. Gathering at dog runs in the park, or strolling through the farmer’s market at Union Square before the bustling crowd appears, fellow pet owners become familiar—as do the personalities of their beloved animals. In this special space and time, a chance encounter with an old acquaintance changed Martha Teichner’s world. As fate would have it, her friend knew someone who was dying of cancer, from exposure to toxins after 9/11, and desperate to find a home for her dog, Harry. He was a Bull Terrier the same breed as Martha’s dear Minnie. Would Martha consider giving Harry a safe, loving new home?
By Steven Carino and Alex Tresniowski
On Valentine’s Day 2019, someone stole Steven Carino’s dog, Oliver, from his car. Having lost his mother at thirteen and grown up with an alcoholic father, he could always count on his dogs for comfort and company. But now, with his beloved Oliver missing, Steven felt utterly alone.
Then, the miracle. In a series of near-impossible coincidences, people from different walks of life crossed paths with Oliver and with Steven. Hardworking immigrants, wealthy suburbanites, car mechanics, deli workers, old friends, close relatives, street cops, gang members, a TV news reporter, social media followers around the world, and one very gifted hairdresser all played a part in Steven’s desperate journey to find Oliver. In the middle of it all, Steven realized that no one is ever truly alone–and that the power of community can be life-changing.
The Particulars of Peter: Dance Lessons, DNA Tests, and Other Excuses to Hang Out with My Perfect Dog
By Kelly Conaboy
The Particulars of Peter is a funny exploration of the joy found in loving a dog so much it makes you feel like you’re going to combust, and the author’s potentially codependent relationship with her own sweet dog, Peter. Readers will follow Peter and his owner to Woofstock, “the largest outdoor festival for dogs in North America,” and accompany them to lessons in Canine Freestyle, a sport where dogs perform a routine set to music, creating the illusion that they’re dancing with their owners. From learning about Peter’s DNA, to seeing if dogs can sense the presence of ghosts, The Particulars of Peter will give readers a smart, entertaining respite from the harsh world of humans into the funny little world of dogs.
Readers will accompany this lovable duo through exciting trips, lessons, quiet moments of connection, and probably a failure or two. By fusing memoir and infotainment, The Particulars of Peter promises to refresh the perennially popular dog lit category in a scrumptiously bighearted barnstormer of a book.
By Simon Garfield
Ludo is a dog—Simon Garfield’s beloved black Labrador retriever, one of millions of canines who have become integral parts of our lives. But how did the dog become top dog? How did these faithful animals come to assist us not only in hunting, but in bomb disposal and cancer detection—and ultimately become our closest companions? Dog’s Best Friend examines how this bond developed over the centuries, and how it has transformed countless lives, both human and canine.
Garfield begins with the earliest visual representations—dogs depicted in ancient rock art—and ends at the laboratory that first sequenced the canine genome. Along the way, we meet the legendary Corgis of Buckingham Palace, the dogs of the Soviet space program, the world’s first labradoodle, and a border collie that can identify more than a thousand different plush toys. Garfield reveals the secrets of the world’s best dog trainers, takes us inside the wild world of dog breeding and dog shows, and unearths the deep psychological roots of the human-dog link. And Ludo pops his snout in from time to time as well.
By Christina Hunger
When speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger first came home with her puppy, Stella, it didn’t take long for her to start drawing connections between her job and her new pet. During the day, she worked with toddlers with significant delays in language development and used Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices to help them communicate. At night, she wondered: If dogs can understand words we say to them, shouldn’t they be able to say words to us? Can dogs use AAC to communicate with humans?
Christina decided to put her theory to the test with Stella and started using a paw-sized button programmed with her voice to say the word “outside” when clicked, whenever she took Stella out of the house. A few years later, Stella now has a bank of more than thirty word buttons, and uses them daily either individually or together to create near-complete sentences.
How Stella Learned to Talk is part memoir and part how-to guide. It chronicles the journey Christina and Stella have taken together, from the day they met, to the day Stella “spoke” her first word, and the other breakthroughs they’ve had since. It also reveals the techniques Christina used to teach Stella, broken down into simple stages and actionable steps any dog owner can use to start communicating with their pets.
By Shawn Buckley and Dr. Oscar Chavez
What’s really going into commercial dog food? The answer is horrifying.
Big Kibble is big business: $75 billion globally. A handful of multi-national corporations dominate the industry and together own as many as 80% of all brands. This comes as a surprise to most people, but what’s even more shocking is how lax the regulations and guidelines are around these products. The guidelines or lack thereof for pet food allow producers to include ever-cheaper ingredients, and create ever-larger earnings. For example, “legal” ingredients in kibble include poultry feces, saw dust, expired food, and diseased meat, among other horrors. Many vets still don’t know that kibble is not the best food for dogs because Big Kibble funds the nutrition research. So far, these corporations have been able to cut corners and still market and promote feed-grade food as if it were healthful and beneficial until now.
Just as you are what you eat, so is your dog. Once you stop feeding your dog the junk that’s in kibble or cans, you have taken the first steps to improving your dog’s health, behavior and happiness.
By Corey Holtzberg
On a hot summer day in Memphis, Corey Holtzberg’s eyes locked on to a sweet black lab puppy. He knew instantly he would be making a big decision that day. He wanted to adopt a new puppy, but was he ready for one that had been born with a poor spine and hips? One that would be facing a lifetime of issues? As he picked her out of the litter, something deep in his heart spoke to him: Corey, you need to help this little girl. Knowing her condition, the breeder was only asking seventy-five dollars for her adoption fee. To this day, that was the best seventy-five dollars Corey ever spent. Chix lived a legendary life, overcame many obstacles, taught Corey countless lessons, and showed him a love that can’t be put into words. She was his dog, his best friend, a reason for living, and now she is his mission. After her passing, Corey found himself sharing countless stories about her life. As he witnessed people’s reactions, he began to think these stories had to be told in a book. 88 PILLS is a heartwarming and hysterical story about the sweet Southern soul that changed his life. His dream is to raise enough money through book sales that he can open a specialized animal rescue for less fortunate dogs, like Chix, that others might overlook.
By Kerry Irving
In 2006, a traumatic car accident changed Kerry Irving’s life forever.
Suffering from severe neck and back injuries, Kerry was unemployed and housebound, struggling with depression and even thoughts of suicide. He went from cycling over 600 miles a month to becoming a prisoner in his own home.
With hope all but lost, Kerry’s wife encouraged him to go on a short walk to the local shop. In the face of unbearable pain and overwhelming panic, he persevered and along the way, met an adorable yard dog named Max. As the Spaniel peered up through the railings, Kerry found comfort and encouragement in his soulful brown eyes. This chance encounter marked a turning point in both their lives.
In Max, Kerry found comfort and motivation and in Kerry, Max found someone to care for him. This is their remarkable, inspiring story.
By Greg Murray
Rescue-dog advocate and professional photographer Greg Murray has followed up on the fan favorite Peanut Butter Dogs with an even more irresistible theme: Peanut Butter Puppies. These adorable portraits of rescued dogs, captured in studio with colorful backgrounds and in delightfully amusing detail, will tug at your heartstrings. Prepare to swoon over Wallaby, the seven-month-old heeler; Archie, the eight-month-old Chihuahua; Fiona Wigglesworth, the eight-month-old Boston terrier; Zoey, the nine-month-old mastiff mix, and so many more! Each one-of-a-kind portrait is sure to make your day. Names, ages, and breed/mix accompany each portrait.
By Will Chesney and Joe Layden
Two dozen Navy SEALs descended on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011. After the mission, only one name was made public: Cairo, a Belgian Malinois and military working dog. This is Cairo’s story, and that of his handler, Will Chesney, a SEAL Team Operator whose life would be irrevocably tied to Cairo’s.
Starting in 2008, when Will was introduced to the SEAL canine program, he and Cairo worked side by side, depending on each other for survival on hundreds of critical operations in the war on terrorism. But their bond transcended their service. Then, in 2011, the call came: Pick up your dog and get back to Virginia. Now.
What followed were several weeks of training for a secret mission. It soon became clear that this was no ordinary operation. Cairo was among the first members of the U.S. military on the ground in Pakistan as part of Operation Neptune Spear, which resulted in the successful elimination of bin Laden.
As Cairo settled into a role as a reliable “spare dog,” Will went back to his job as a DEVGRU operator, until a grenade blast in 2013 left him with a brain injury and PTSD. Unable to participate in further missions, he suffered from crippling migraines, chronic pain, memory issues, and depression. Modern medicine provided only modest relief. Instead, it was up to Cairo to save Will’s life once more and then up to Will to be there when Cairo needed him the most.
If you’re an avid reader and a lover of all things dog, don’t miss our favorite dog books from 2020, too!