The Dog Lover’s Guide to Summer Reading

Ahhhhh, summer reading!

Is there anything more delightful than lounging outside on a beautiful summer evening with a good book in hand? If there is, I haven’t found it yet!

This year, we’re emerging from a particularly rough time, and I wanted to focus on books that add a lot of value. For the first year ever, this list doesn’t contain any novels! How strange! However, there’s a memoir that reads like a novel, some helpful nonfiction, and—of course—a slew of pet-friendly children’s books.

Without further ado, let’s dive into this year’s dog lover’s guide to summer reading!

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London’s Number One Dog-Walking Agency

Cover image for London's Number One Dog Walking Agency depicts an outline of a woman walking six dogs of varying size against an outline backdrop of London

The perfect beach read wrapped up in a memoir! When Kate MacDougall leaves her steady-but-unfulfilling job at Sotheby’s to walk dogs, her mother isn’t on board. Luckily, her partner is, and so she dives in and starts a dog-walking agency. The memoir is a coming-of-middle-age story told through the dogs she and her employees stroll through the neighborhoods of London. Each chapter tells an anecdote about one of the dogs in their care and how the plight of the dog relates to Kate’s evolving story. It’s a well-crafted, entertaining story with lots of endearing moments. Anyone who’s ever loved a dog will relate to the stories Kate tells and the experiences she has with the dogs—and their owners. A quick, fluffy read full of heart, perfect for tossing in your tote to read on a park bench.

It’s not out until July, but you can pre-order a copy here!

Griffin’s Heart: Mourning Your Pet with No Apologies

The cover of Griffin's Heart shows a drawing of a heart with a band-aid on it being handed to a drawing of a sad little girl.

When a pet dies, a piece of your heart goes with them. For those of us who love animals, we know how deep the pain of their death is. Unfortunately, that pain is often dismissed: “Just get another dog!” This book attempts to honor the pain of losing a pet and provides a series of stories, advice, and journal prompts to help guide you on that path. I’ll be honest: This book isn’t for everyone. It’s a little woo in some places and preachy in others (she says to only drink decaf after 2 pm, for instance, which I feel like is unrelated and left me feeling grouchy because I have a full-caf coffee literally every day at 2 and I don’t want to be judged for that… can you tell I’m protective of my coffee habit?).

Anyway, this is a lovely guide that gives you permission to feel what you need to feel, however deep and however long you need to feel it. The prompts are thoughtful and even leave space to paste in pictures, so it can become a memory keeper of the life of your beloved pet. I think, too, if someone you love loses a pet, this given as a gift could be the perfect, thoughtful way to let them know you care.

Available here.

The Natural Dog

The cover of The Natural Dog features a soft focus of a light brown and white medium-sized dog standing in a field of lavender.

If this book had nothing else going for it, it would still be worth adding to your shelf for the beautiful photography. However, it has lots of helpful information with a ton of practical tips. It’s a guide to natural care, and I was thrilled that it’s about so much more than just food and vet visits. In fact, the bulk of the book includes behavior, training, safety, walking, and more. It kicks off with a super helpful section on physical exercise and monitoring safe activity–much appreciated by me as we try to balance Cooper’s need for physical activity with his aging body. There’s also an entire section–the second half of the book–about mental health. It’s deep, thorough, and kind.

For me, I sometimes hesitate to dive into “natural dog” discussions because I don’t love how the conversation is (usually) centered around feeding. If you’ve been around for a while, you know I don’t feed raw (and, yes, this book definitely encourages a raw diet), but I was thrilled to see the emphasis on a holistic, full-scale approach to raising a natural dog that went far, far beyond simply a raw diet. The mental exercise chapter by itself makes the purchase worthwhile! Definitely pick this one up if you’re looking for some gentle-living tips to enjoying your dog. I highly recommend!

Available July 6. Preorder here.

Dogtography: A Knock-Your-Socks-Off Guide to Capturing the Best Dog Photos on Earth

The cover of Dogtography shows a golden dog smiling into the camera against a bright blue sky

Buy this book. Seriously. If you share your life with a dog, you need this guide. It will inspire you to capture stunning, silly, personality-filled photos of your beloved dog. Chock full of helpful hints and breathtaking photos, this could be a beautiful coffee table book to thumb through regularly. See?

So, beyond the gorgeous photography, here’s what makes this book invaluable: The tips included go far beyond the basics of framing and lighting. Instead, author Kaylee Greer digs into everything a “dogtographer” needs to know, including how to read your dog’s body language, how to choose a location, how to capture in perfect detail your dog’s unique personality. Plus, the tone of the book is warm, friendly, personable, and funny. For a photography guide, it’s a genuinely enjoyable read!

Available here.

Children’s Books

Buckley the Highland Cow & Ralphy the Goat

The cover image of Buckley & Ralphy shows a cow and a goat in a barn chewing hey.

I love stories of cross-species friendships. They always make me feel like we’re all far more alike than we are different. This tale—one of a cow and a goal who become lifelong friends—fits the bill perfectly. It seems to be a trend in these longer, more complicated children’s stories to combine photographs with art, and this book is no different. With a mix of illustrations and photos, Buckley and Ralphy’s friendship comes to life! It was a cute, sweet story with a happy ending.

One note: Violet cried her eyes out in the beginning. On the second page, Buckley’s mama is gone when he wakes up (she was sold), and it broke Violet’s heart. It gave us a to discuss about farming and animal rescue. In that vein, the back of the book includes a lot of resources to foster those conversations.

It’s available on Amazon, and you can follow their real-life adventures on Instagram.

Not Like the Others: Harley’s Story

The cover of Harley's Story features a close up of a Yorkshire Terrier.

I believe it’s vital for kids to learn that there are so many different kinds of people and animals in the world, and every single one has value. No matter what, people and animals have an inherent dignity that should be honored and celebrated. Exposing my kids to all kinds of different people and animals is one of my most important values.

This book introduces kids to Harley, a dog who develops diabetes. In it, Harley mentions friends like a cat with asthma, a dog with a wheelchair, and more. It’s a kind, gentle way to show that all these animals have value and are deeply loved.

It’s available only on Amazon, and it’s currently FREE with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

We Want a Dog

The cover of We Want a Dog features a bright red background with a simple drawing a white dog with his head titled sideways.

This book. Put it on your list, parents. The red, black, and white color scheme appeals to even the tiniest literary babies. The rhyming is cute and the questions are fun. And, best of all, it has a surprise-twist ending that had my girls cackling!

Perfect as a gift! Available here.

Yes & No

The cover of Yes & No shows a happy yellow lab and the back of a black cat.

Have you read Elisha Cooper yet? If not, what are you waiting for? We purchased Big Cat, Little Cat years ago at a local bookstore, and it’s charming… lovely, real, heartbreaking, poignant, all the emotions. We had to tuck it away because John and I had such a hard time reading it over and over.

When Cooper’s publicist reached out with this one, I leapt at the chance to review his latest. And, oh, it’s darling! It shows a day in the life of a dog-and-cat pair and all they get up to together. Honestly? He nails dogs and cats so perfectly with simple illustrations and very few words. We all loved this book and have now read it over and over and over and over, enough that the brand-new spine is cracked and the pages are curling. If you pick up nothing else from this list, get this one!

Available here.

There you have it, friends: my summer reading list! (I am also reading some non-pet books: Braiding Sweetgrass, Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry, and Ready to Be Heard sit atop my nightstand right now.)

What are you reading? What would you add to this list?

Happy summer, and happy reading! 🙂

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