In recent years, dogs have become a favored topic for authors and a lucrative genre for publishers. It’s no surprise, then, that 2009 saw the release of hundreds of new dog-oriented books. Our staff couldn’t read them all, but we sampled quite a few. Here are some of our top picks.
FOR YOUNG READERS, AND THE YOUNG AT HEART
By Patrick McDonnell
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, October 1, 2009
Hardcover, 40 pages
For expressive drawing, cool four-legged characters, and whimsy in spades, it’s hard to beat Patrick McDonnell, creator of the Mutts comic strip. His children’s books have delighted tots and their parents for many years, and Wag! will certainly continue the tradition. If he hasn’t done so already, the ever wise and witty canine character, Earl, will surely woo you to fandom.
Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, November 1, 2009
Hardcover, 48 pages
This true-life story of an Iraqi dog befriended by a Marine major on combat duty, then left behind when the unit changed location, will move and inspire kids and adults alike. Great life lessons abound – about the intrinsic value of animals and the human-canine bond, as you might expect, but also about how dedicated people can join forces to make good things happen.
FOR ADULT READERS
City Walks with Dogs: San Francisco
By Ben Brashares (author), Henry Quiroga (illustrator), Ben Wright (cartographer)
Chronicle Books, July 29, 2009
Boxed deck of 50 cards
This deck of informative cards promises “50 adventures on foot and paw.” Indeed, each one provides clear and simple directions to a specific locale, including map, as well as tips for what to do with Rover along the way. Know someone who is visiting the Bay Area with a four-legged friend? This deck is the perfect guide to dog-friendly walks, views, eateries, and other attractions in San Francisco, the East Bay, and Marin. The New York version was also released in 2009; expect many more offerings in this must-have series for dog lovers.
Come Back Como: Winning the Heart of a Reluctant Dog
By Steven Winn
HarperCollins, September 29, 2009
Hardcover, 288 pages
ISBN: 006180259X 9780061802591
In the tried-and-true (and extremely lucrative) tradition of Marley and Me, Come Back Como is one man’s story of the dog who tested his patience, provoked his rage, and even challenged his sanity before becoming the family dog of his dreams. It’s a good, fast, funny read by a former Chronicle staff writer, set on his home turf in San Francisco. If you have been thinking of adopting a canine companion, this book could make you wary of the idea. Don’t let it. As Winn eventually found out, the love of a dog is worth whatever trouble it might take to earn it.
Dog Lover’s Daily Companion: 365 Days of Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Living a Rich Life with Your Dog
By Wendy Nan Rees and Kristen Hampshire
Photography by Kendra Luck
Quarry Books, August 1, 2009
Hardcover, 320 pages
Friend and frequent contributor to Bay Woof, Kendra Luck, contributed fantastic photographs to this handy little handbook, filled with 365 dog-centric tips, DIY projects, practical advice, and insights into the canine-human relationship. There is a great deal of info to absorb here, but the book’s easy-on-the-eye design and good organization makes it a pleasure to browse and partake at your convenience. In short, it’s a practical and inspirational guide to making your relationship with your dog a fabulous friendship indeed.
One Nation Under Dog: Adventures in the New World of Prozac-Popping Puppies, Dog-Park Politics, and Organic Pet Food
By Michael Schaffer
Henry Holt and Co., March 31, 2009
Hardcover, 304 pages
We definitely love our dogs, but we’re not obsessed with them, right? This fun and fascinating book about the meteoric rise of the pet services industry indicates that we just might go a teensy-weensy bit overboard in our quest to make life perfect for our pooches – to the tune of more than $43 billion dollars spent this year alone. Schaffer’s reporting skill and spot-on observations about modern American life teach us a lot about our culture, in general, not just our pet predilections.