Your Favorite Dog Book Ever?

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 31, 2013


Theophilus Wibbly Philo Leavitt Bluemle, 1998-2013. Favorite pastimes: chewing sticks, chasing blowing leaves, eating asparagus on the stalk, pouncing on snowballs, munching chunks of fresh watermelon, and leaning his warm, fuzzy, sweet self against the people he loved. Photo by EB.

Josie and I are having to say goodbye to our beloved dog, Theo, and so this post is going to be a celebration of everyone’s favorite dogs in books.
There are so many amazing dog stories in children’s literature that a bookstore could devote an entire separate section to them. But that might anger the cat people, so we sprinkle them liberally throughout all the sections. (Kidding. We love cats, too.)
At a time like this, we would recommend to customers losing their pets books like Cynthia Rylant’s perfectly lovely Dog Heaven, Helen Manos’s timeless and memorable Samsara Dog, or Elisha Cooper’s cozy, gentle paean to older dogs (and it doesn’t mention losing them, which is comforting), Homer.
To get my dog joy on, I might turn to Patricia MacLachlan’s Once I Ate a Pie (worth the cover price for the title poem alone) and Underwater Dogs. Maybe listen to a Hank the Cowdog audiobook for chuckles.
There are so many great dogs in picture books that have been part of the fabric of children’s lives for decades: Carl and Clifford and Biscuit, Martha, and Harry. There are newer excellent additions, too, like Bailey, Rocket, Beau, Fudge-Fudge and Marshmallow, Howie.
There are terrific dog adventures, from the realistic to the sublimely absurd: Cracker, Balto, The Call of the Wild, The Incredible Journey, 101 Dalmatians and The Starlight Barking, Dominic, Swindle, Molly Moon.
There are dogs that become real to you, hold a place in your heart in books like Because of Winn-Dixie, Where the Red Fern Grows, Shiloh, Sounder, The Underneath. There’s the sheer wonderfulness of Love That Dog.
Oh, there are a million more beautiful, wonderful, loyal, lovely, funny, memorable dogs in books. What are your favorites?

53 thoughts on “Your Favorite Dog Book Ever?

  1. Julie Isgrigg

    You mentioned my favorite middle-grade read: “Where the Red Fern Grows.” That was the first book that ever made me cry. What a beautiful love story.
    There are so many picture books that get my doggie motor running. These are all ones that, to me, encapsulate the very doggie-ness of dogs that make them such delightful companions. “Say Hello to Zorro!” by Carter Goodrich, “Ball” by Mary Sullivan, and “Chowder” by Peter Brown all delight me.

  2. James

    “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be” by Farley Mowat was one of my favorites growing up and, like Julie, “Where the Red Fern Grows” was the first book to make me cry. Heck, I even remember having a one of the Little Golden Books that was either Lassie or Rin-Tin-Tin in it as a child and my mother said that I never went anywhere without that book.

  3. Debbie McManus

    Little Boy Blue by Kim Kavin is an amazing book that uncovers the harsh realities of kill shelters in the south. Kim has been showcased on CNN and her book has influenced several kill shelters in the south to do away with the gas chamber as a way to euthanize dogs and cats. It’s by Barrons and a must-read to educate anyone on the importance of adopting vs. purchasing a dog.

  4. Kate Sullivan

    Elizabeth & Josie – So sorry to hear about Theo. I will remember how sweet he was to me (a cat person) and how he always was so interested in my bags, probably thought there was a cat in there! But most of all I will remember his loyalty to you both.
    And coincidentally my favorite dog book is The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, always worth a re-read.

  5. Deb Allen

    There are several and I’m sure I’ve forgotten many. Here are a few that I really enjoy: Call of the Wild, Lassie Come Home, Because of Winn-Dixie, Henry and Mudge series, White Fang, The Dogs of Bedlam Farm, Biscuit and the very touching, Two Bobbies.

  6. pauline Klein

    My deepest sympathies on the loss of your precious pup. I have had many dogs and each one was very special to me and my two current companions are so dear to my heart. May your wonderful memories help with the loss. I know he was a happy well loved dog.

  7. Annis

    “Dogtripping” by David Rosenfelt is my favorite book about dogs because David and his wife Debbie are their savoirs. This is a story about a caravan that traveled from CA to ME with 25 dogs who the Rosenfelts had rescued and who live with them in their home. Through the years they have rescued over 4,000 dogs and have had as many as 41 live in their home at one time. Heartwarming to say the least, this is a story of dog lovers who give a multitude of unplaceable dogs a second chance at for a happy life, no matter how long that may be.

  8. Karin

    Back in the day, my sixth grade teacher read to us from “Lad, a dog” by Albert Payson Terhune on Friday afternoons and it started my life-long love of the Collie breed. I’ve read it many times since and still love it along with newer books like “Because of Winn-Dixie” and “Shiloh.” My sympathies on the loss of your canine companion.

  9. Freddy

    Sorry to hear about Theo….
    I’m going to a slightly older reading demographic and I’d recommend Chet as my favorite dog in books — from the Chet & Bernie Mystery Series by Spencer Quinn. A good place to start is with Dog On It, although he has a new 6th book is coming in the fall.

  10. Hernandez

    Saying good bye to a pet is so hard. We lost our beloved cat of seventeen years this year. We are equal opportunity readers. My husband really enjoys the adult dog books, but as I work with youth my favorites are usually picture books. I haven’t seen Wet Dog mentioned. It’s a great read for the “dog” days of summer.

  11. Maya

    Another wonderful out-of-print picture book is “My Dog Rosie” by Isabelle Harper and Barry Moser. Isn’t it marvelous when the artwork conveys just how much the artists loves his fellow creatures?
    Thems some happy dogs…

  12. Jennifer Bunting

    I love “Ivan the Terrier” by Peter Catalanotto–because I live with Trixie the Terrier. Catalanotto captures the terrier personality perfectly. I have enjoyed so many of the books mentioned above, too.

  13. Sarah Tomp

    So sorry to hear about Theo. There’s no love quite like dog love.
    Such a great list of doggy books! Stone Fox is another beloved one in our house. Of course, we love My Father the Dog too! So much fun (and so true).

  14. Lynn Plourde

    So sorry about Theo. We lost our beloved 14 year old Maggie last fall and my heart still has a hole in it–just found a piece of her fur today while deep-cleaning the kitchen–she makes sure we never forget her =)! A perfect dog book for a time like this is SAMMY IN THE SKY by Barbara Walsh with amazing illustrations by Jamie Wyeth

  15. Ellie Miller

    Picking up on Freddy and Annis’s comments anent some wonderfully engrossing adult reading with a dog focus, primarily in the mystery genre, David Rosenfelt is the author of the ‘Andy Carpenter’ series which features lawyer Andy going to bat for ‘underdogs’ with the help of his beloved golden retriever, Tara (yes…the one his foundation is named for in “Dogtripping” which Annis mentions). Also recommend Susan Conant’s ‘Holly Winter’ books focusing around Holly’s adventures in the world of dogs with her malamutes. Finally, Carol Lea Benjamin has a wonderfully interesting detective series where the heroine’s pit bull Dash goes a long way to disprove the bad press which that breed receives. What I think is especially interesting is that all three authors have their dogs actively participating in various Service Animal programs, and Hooray!!!!! for that.

  16. Robin Patterson

    Mine is “Walter the Farting Dog.” I was in a bookstore with my kids (who were more entertained by the train set than the book aisle) when I discovered this funny tale of a dog who has explosive gastrointestinal issues. I laughed so hard that I was given a very stern look by the lady sharing the aisle with me. Evidently, she did not find farts funny, but as the mother of two young boys, I sure did! Although my sons are teens now, the book still holds a special place on my oldest one’s bookshelf, along with “Love You Forever,” “Runaway Bunny,” and an assortment of books I hope to one day read to his children.

  17. linda magram

    Josie and Elizabeth,
    My sympathy to you as you say goodbye to your sweet Theo.
    Favorite dog books around our home were always BENNY by Bob Graham and LETTERS FROM A DESPERATE DOG by Eileen Christelow.

  18. Kate

    Speaking of Peter Catalanotto, DYLAN’S DAY OUT is a favorite. And THE ADVENTURES OF TAXI DOG (Sal and Debra Barracca); and OFFICER BUCKLE AND GLORIA (Peggy Rathman); and Jon Agee’s ELLSWORTH; and Margery Flack’s ANGUS books; and Maira Kalman’s MAX books; and…

  19. Christie

    Because I grew up next door to a couple of Scotties, my favorite dog book is my hand-me-down copy of “Surprise: The Story of Molly and Mops” (who’s a Scottie, of course). It’s by Charims and was published in 1935 by the Whitman Publishing Co. of Racine, WI

  20. Spellbound

    I’m so, so sorry about Theo. I lost my 17-year-old dog almost a year ago, and I still miss him every day. I will be thinking about you both.
    As far as dog books, my first thought is always HARRY THE DIRTY DOG. I loved it as a child, and it still delights me every time I read it.
    On the adult side, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN is beautiful and heart-wrenching. I read it when my dog was very old but still relatively healthy. I was very emotional while reading it, but I’m glad I read it when I did.
    A sweet picture book that a friend recently introduced me to is FRED STAYS WITH ME! by Nancy Coffelt. On the surface, it’s about a little girl adapting to divorce thanks to the consistency of taking her dog with her. As a dog lover, I can’t help thinking that the real message is “home is where the dog is.”

  21. Kathy D

    Sorry to hear about Theo. I lost my dog a year and a half ago and miss him terribly.
    One of my favorite dog books is Dan Yaccarino’s Unlovable. I used to have a great time reading it at storytimes. A newer favorite is Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman. The illustrations are adorable (plus it has something for people who love cats as well).

  22. Becky McDonald

    Losing a dog is heartbreaking! I’m sad for you both. They never leave your heart, however. Heaven would not be heaven without out beloved furry family members, so I hope we will see them again. Some of my many favorites: PROTECTING MARIE, by Kevin Henkes; THE STRAY DOG, by Marc Simont, and the Hondo and Fabian books by Peter McCarty.

  23. Ellen Yeomans

    So sorry about Theo. Hugs to you and Josie. Our dog, Brigit died a couple months ago so we’re still in canine mourning here, too. I’d like to add to your list with HOW to STEAL a DOG by Barbara O’Connor. And DOGS on the BED by you.

  24. Nancy Furstinger

    I know my beloved lab, Lacy Whirlygig, who I lost last week, will be guiding Theo across the Rainbow Bridge. There are oodles of dog books that inspired me to write my own, starting with “Lassie Come Home.” My fiction picture book, “Maggie’s Second Chance: A Gentle Dog’s Rescue,” interweaves two true stories: an abandoned dog rescued from a house around the corner from me plus 4th graders in Dalhart, TX, who started their own animal shelter and have rescued more than 5,000 dogs–so inspiring. Healing hugs to you.

  25. Joan Kane Nichols

    The first ever book I remember was The Poky Little Puppy. At three I found the main character enchanting and mysterious. A little later my mother read me Ouida’s A Dog of Flanders. We weren’t a family that showed emotion, so we went in separate rooms to cry. I must have read all of Albert Payson Terhune’s dog books. My oldest daughter loves the Angus books.
    I so badly wanted a dog when I was young that several years ago I wrote No Room for a Dog, a chapter book now out of print, to give myself the dog I couldn’t have then. Now I’ve written a Victorian-era mystery for middle-graders about two dogs bred to fight in the pits. One dies.
    But I know people who who won’t read any book where a dog dies. In your experience–is that a significant taboo?

  26. Debbie Martin

    So many good dog books. It’s so hard to lose such a wonderful companion. I lost my female springer spaniel, Storie, (she smiled just like Winn-Dixie) last fall and it was tough. It was even more difficult for the male springer who adored her. We are so lucky to have them in our lives and to give us such warm and wonderful memories. Besides the books mentioned by all above, 2 of my favorite picture books are Togo by Robert Blake and Let’s Get a Pup, Said Kate by Bob Graham.

  27. Lori Marshall

    A great book that helped me recently after the loss of my furry companion is IVAN, A pound dogs view of Life, Love and Leashes. Written by Tim McHugh.
    It’s a story told through the eyes of Ivan a dog with an extreme over bite and various other deformities.
    To Ivan, love and relationships with people are what matters most, and that if a deformed pound dog like him can find love and acceptance, anyone can.
    A beautiful story of the family that adopted him and the adventures they all enjoyed together.
    I totally recommend the book and give it “Two paws up”!!

  28. David

    Ivan, by Tim McHugh, is by far my favorite dog book ever written in the history of mankind. Something about a dog who is obsessed with Tolstoy and Dostoevsky really strikes a magnificent chord with me. What a wonderful book!

  29. sue carita

    My condolences to you both. We are enjoying our third dog, a lively border collie who is turning fourteen this month. Our previous two dogs each lived to be 14 then died suddenly. I always believed it is not the time we have together, but how wonderful that time has been.
    Jon Katz’ books about various dogs at Bedlam Farm and Ann Martin’s A Dog’s Life along with Sheep by Holt(?) are among our favorite dog tales. Dogs reach into our hearts and make us better people.

  30. Laura Griffin

    My favorite will always be “Who Wants Arthur?” by Amanda Graham because everyone should love an ordinary brown dog.

  31. Kaylyn VanHarn

    Hide-Away Puppy, by Jessica Potter Broderick c1952 and The Puppy Twins, by Helen Wing c1959. Even though these two books are very old, they were some of my brother’s and my favorites. Our children loved these too, always asking grandma to read them. I still have both books.

  32. Dianna Winget

    So sorry for the loss of your good buddy Theo. It’s so hard to say goodbye. But as far as favorite dog stories, the top for me would be Where the Red Fern Grows. Probably next The Incredible Journey. Racing in the Rain is such a wonderful tribute even though it’s not a children’s book. I’m sure I could go on forever since dogs are my favorite animal 🙂

  33. Misti

    So sorry for your loss.
    My favorite dog books are the Pinkerton stories by Steven Kellogg, particularly PINKERTON AND ROSE.

  34. Chris LeMieux

    I think my favorite silly dog bog has to be “Bark, George!” by Jules Feiffer. It’s great to see all these wonderful dog stories. I’m reminded of old favorites and getting ideas for what to read next at the same time! So sorry about you dog; I lost a beloved dog too young to thyroid cancer a couple of years ago and I still miss her badly.

  35. Jane Heitman Healy

    So sorry for your loss and thanks for the great list of dog books. As a kid, I loved Ribsy and Call of the Wild. I’ve written my own dog days blog post and linked to your post. The Dog Days of Summer

  36. Jan Moser

    Anyone who is both a dog-lover, and a bibliophile, should not miss “Flush,” by Virginia Woolf. It sounds absurd to call a Woolf book “sweet,” but it was! It made me laugh; it made me cry. Short but sweet. I won’t give away spoilers for those who haven’t read it, but it’s fiction based on the actual life and adventures of the pet of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning. As I neared the end, I slowed my reading to a snail’s pace, for I didn’t want it to end. Warning: If you check out or buy this book, be careful to check the author’s name, so as not to confuse it with a more recent book by the same name.

  37. Kate Nikolenko

    Tisha by Suzanne Colts is a collection of memories a boy had with his favorite hunting dog, life lessons learned, and all sorts of adventures. It’s extremely sad towards the end, but the stories are wonderful and show just how important a good dog is in a person’s life.


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