Today is National Dog Day! I didn’t have a dog when I was growing up, but we did have two dogs (at different times) after my husband and I got married.
We got our first dog, Skipper, because our son had been begging for a dog when I found out we were having another baby. So we ended up with a new puppy and a new baby at the same time.
Skipper was more of an outside dog. We had him in a large fenced yard, but that didn’t hold him back. He would jump over the fence and visit the neighbors around the block. Once when we were walking him, an older lady sitting on her porch said to us, “Oh, I see you have my dog!” That’s when I found out that Skipper led a double life.
Skipper was the main character in a true story that I wrote for Guideposts magazine in 2007. It involved building a stable for our new outdoor Christmas nativity scene and our ‘lost’ dog. It ended finding Skipper snuggled up next to the Baby Jesus in the stable in our front yard.
Our second dog, Snickers, was the inspiration for my picture book NAME THAT DOG! Puppy Poems from A to Z. Snickers was more of an indoor dog, though she loved being outside. We got her when our youngest daughter was in high school, so I had more time to get attached to this dog. She’s in many of the poems in my book.
Pets are a great inspiration in many ways. Here are some of my favorite books about dogs, including some classics from the past.
A PET FOR MISS WRIGHT, by Judy Young, illustrated by Andrea Wesson, Sleeping Bear Press 2011
Miss Wright is a writer, and writing is a lonely job. She decides that she needs a pet to keep her company, but finding the perfect pet for a writer is not easy. Find out what makes a dog the perfect pet in this book.
PINKERTON, BEHAVE! by author/illustrator Steven Kellogg, Dial Books for Young Readers 1979
Pinkerton is a loveable puppy, but he just won’t behave. He sets a bad example for the other dogs and flunks out of obedience school. But when a burglar comes into their home, it takes a little girl to know just the right commands. Anyone who has had a new puppy will relate to Pinkerton and his family in this book.
THE HALLO-WIENER, by author/illustrator Dav Pilkey, The Blue Sky Press and Scholastic 1995
The other dogs tease Oscar because he is short and long. But sometimes using what makes you a little bit different can save the day.
PRETZEL, by Margret Rey, illustrated by H.A. Rey, Harper and Row and Scholastic 1944
Pretzel started out just like his brothers and sisters, but by the time he was grown he was the longest dachshund in the world. Read about the different ways that Pretzel uses his special size, and how he wins the heart of Greta in this story.
BARK, GEORGE, by author/illustrator Jules Feiffer, HarperCollins 1999
When George's mother tells her son to bark, he meows. She tries again and he quacks, oinks and moos. George is a dog and something’s definitely not right. So his mother takes him to the vet, who finds some interesting things when he reaches down George’s throat.
The BISCUIT books by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Pat Schories, HarperCollins I Can Read series of books about a puppy and his adventures.
The HENRY AND MUDGE books by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Sucie Stevenson, Simon & Schuster/Aladdin Ready to Read series of books about Henry and his big dog, Mudge.
Books about HARRY by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham, and the books about BENJY by Margaret Bloy Graham, Harper & Row and Weekly Reader Books.
A couple of middle grade books about dogs that I like are:
LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech, HarperCollins 2001
This novel in verse is told from the viewpoint of Jack, the main character, as he learns to enjoy writing poetry when he writes about his dog. A great introduction to novels in verse, this one is hard to put down once you begin.
ADVENTURES OF PACHELOT, books one, two and three, by Wendy Caszatt-Allen, Mackinac Island Press 2007
Travel back in time with fur traders, sailors and Native Americans as Pachelot, an Australian Shepherd, tells his story of life in the wilderness with the early explorers in the seventh century.