The phrase ‘the dog days of August’ isn’t just a reference to the month’s notorious mugginess but also to the fact that August, 26th is National Dog Day! That’s right there’s even a website and everything. Nationaldogday.com Obviously the best way to mark this auspicious day honoring Man’s Best Friend would be to spend it with a dog; yours or someone else’s and of course to make a donation to one of the many excellent animal rescue organizations out there. But besides the obvious, you might want to do a little reading for this event as well. Consider one of the following.
White Fang by Jack London (1906) Ok this one may be cheating just a little bit because the titular main protagonist is actually three-quarters Wolf. Taking place during the Yukon Gold Rush it recounts how White Fang’s parents wolf-dog hybrid Kiche and One Eye came to meet and mate, his early childhood in the wilderness, his first (mostly negative experiences) with humans, and finally his journey to domestication when he finally meets a master he can love and respect. It was an immediate worldwide success that’s been adapted for film numerous times.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (1961) After rescuing a stray coonhound, Billy Colman reminisces about his childhood in the Ozarks and the two Redbone coonhound dogs, he saved for, bought, raised, and trained. A beloved ‘coming of age’ story that’s now required reading in many schools.
If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot (1969) James Herriot was a former RAF pilot during WWII, and veterinary surgeon who achieved international fame writing about his work with animals. The books are described as ‘animal stories’ and Herriot referred to them as his ‘little cat and dog stories’ but they also brilliantly illustrated Yorkshire country life. Herriot’s mastery at bringing animals and people to life would earn him both a private museum and a statue of himself. Though numerous books followed, this was the one that started it all.
Hotel for Dogs by Lois Duncan (1971) Andi Walker and her brother Bruce have to give up their beloved dog Bebe when they move in with Great-Aunt Alice who’s allergic to animals. Shortly afterwards they meet stranded dog ‘Friday’ and her pups and they move them into the abandoned house across the street. Soon Andi and Bruce have fellow conspirators and Friday and her puppies have fellow canine roommates. This beloved children’s classic inspired two sequel novels and a film adaption.
Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz (2009) Cognitive Scientist Alexandra Horowitz takes readers inside the minds of dogs exploring how they perceive day to day activities. What’s it like to smell not only all the food in the house but your owners sadness? How does a Pomeranian play with a Great Dane? These questions and more Horowitz takes on and the answers will surprise and delight you. The book garnered excellent reviews and was on the NYT best-seller list for over a year.
Winnefred Ann Frolik is the author of The Dog-Walking Diaries: A Year in the Life of an Autistic Dog-Walker.
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