Well, yes. I wrote Luke's Tale from my heart. So it is my favorite dog book. However, I am often asked what books about dogs have influenced my writing through dogs' eyes. I'd have to respond with my Top 10. Indeed, there are more. But these will do.
#10 A Dog About Town by J.F. Englert
Harry is a man still mourning the loss of his beloved girlfriend, Imogen, who left him suddenly without a word. He’s also the owner of a plump, poetry-loving Lab, Randolph. Like most Manhattan dogs, Randolph spends his days sifting through a world of scents, his owner’s neuroses, and an overcrowded doggy run at the American Museum of Natural History. But now a bereft Harry has drifted into a circle of would-be occultists. Which might not be so bad if one of them wasn’t also a murderer. To protect his hapless owner's life, Randolph might have to do the unthinkable - and start training Harry to catch a killer.
Randolph was my inspiration for writing about an intelligent dog.
# 9 Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
This has to be on every dog lover's list. The stray dog was ugly, and a thieving rascal, too. But he was clever, and a smart dog could be a big help on the wild Texas frontier, especially with Papa away on a long cattle drive up to Abilene. Strong and courageous, Old Yeller proved that he could protect Travis' family from any sort of danger. But can Travis do the same for Old Yeller?
This story has never left me.
#8 My Dog Skip by Willie Morris
In 1943 in a sleepy town on the banks of the Yazoo River, a boy fell in love with a puppy with a lively gait and an intelligent way of listening. The two grew up together having the most wonderful adventures. A classic story of a boy, a dog, and small-town America, My Dog Skip belongs on the same shelf as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Russell Baker's Growing Up. It has enchanted readers of all ages for years.
To me, this is one of the most tender stories that I have ever read.
#7 Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan
Until Tuesday is the story of how two wounded warriors, who had given so much and suffered the consequences, found salvation in each other. It is a story about war and peace, injury and recovery, psychological wounds and spiritual restoration. But more than that, it is a story about the love between a man and dog, and how, together, they healed each other's souls.
This book taught me so much about how our wounded warriors suffer and the healing power of dogs.
#6 A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz
In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a beloved companion, bestselling novelist Dean Koontz remembers the golden retriever who changed his life. A retired service dog, Trixie was three when Dean and his wife, Gerda, welcomed her into their home. She was superbly trained, but her greatest gifts couldn’t be taught: her keen intelligence, her innate joy, and an uncanny knack for living in the moment. Whether chasing a tennis ball or protecting those she loved, Trixie gave all she had to everything she did, inspiring Dean and Gerda to trust their instincts and recapture a sense of wonder that will remain with them always. Trixie lived fewer than twelve years; in this wide world, she was a little thing. But in every way that mattered, she lived a big life.
Trixie was much like Luke. His life had a profound effect on mine.
#5 Watchers by Dean Koontz
From a top secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms. One is a magnificent dog of astonishing intelligence. The other, a hybrid monster of a brutally violent nature. And both are on the loose…Bestselling author Dean Koontz presents his most terrifying, dramatic and moving novel: The explosive story of a man and a woman, caught in a relentless storm of mankind’s darkest creation…
You may not see this as a dog book, but I do. I fell in love with the dog in this book. The statement he spells out on a Scrabble Board has never left me. "I die of lonely."
#4 A Dog's Purpose by Bruce Cameron
Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog's Purpose is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog's many lives, but also a dog's-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man's best friend. This moving and beautifully crafted story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.
Need I say more? A true inspiration for me in all my novels.
#3 Marley and Me by John Grogan
The heartwarming and unforgettable story of a family and the wondrously neurotic dog who taught them what really matters in life.
For anyone who has ever loved an unruly dog with the power to teach about life, this one always gets me.
#2 Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders
Originally published as a novel in 1894, "Beautiful Joe" is based on the true story of a dog who lived in Meaford in southern Ontario. Saunders, the author, first heard the story of the dog, who had actually been abused and then rescued as depicted in the book, from her sister-in-law, Louise Moore. Louise's father, Walter Moore, had rescued the dog in 1890. Today the town of Meaford is home to a park and statue honoring the real Beautiful Joe.
Written as an autobiography from the dog's point of view, the book includes a reference in the first page to "Black Beauty," which had also used that device, as "a little book that she [my mistress] says is the story of a horse's life." Joe then explains that he has undertaken the writing of his life's story in the belief that it will please his mistress.
Above all, "Beautiful Joe" is a call for an end to cruelty to animals, a message which it delivers effectively in the course of a story enjoyed and loved by generations of readers young and old.
I read this over and over as a child. I believe it is the inspiration for my work with dog rescue.
#1 The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.
On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.
A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.
For obvious reasons, this is my all-time favorite treasured dog book, besides Luke, of course.
There are so many more... Lassie, Rin Tin Tin... great classics. If you haven't read them all, you should.
And, please, share your very favorite book about a dog with me in the comment section. I would love to list other readers' favorites so that we can all share them together. After all, we can't read them if we don't know about them!
Til Next Time,
P.S. For a free eBook of Luke's Tale, click here.