Finally, summer is here and there’s only one thing to do: take the dog on a road trip. But first, I’ll gather the books scattered across my floor and decide which I’m going to read (and even re-read) during the next six weeks.
So here it is, after some tidying, the dogtrotting.net summer dog-themed reading list. Be sure to let us know what you’re reading (and maybe win a book).
(This article contains affiliate links, at no cost to you).
Bodie on the Road
by Belinda Jones
Part travel journal, part healing narrative, romance writer Belinda Jones forays into creative non-fiction by recounting a personal journey of lost love and found dog in Bodie on the Road (affiliate link).
Yes, self-proclaimed cat lady adopts a rescue pup named Bodie who reveals himself to be the true love-of-her-life as they road-trip along the incredibly dog-friendly American Pacific coast.
Two confessions: I have enjoyed sharing cocktails with the charming Belinda Jones, and this is the book I’ve dreamed of writing – so that might influence my view. I’ve also read this book already but plan to re-read it this summer. Ok I guess that’s three confessions.
The journey is inspired by the writer’s split with the man of her dreams (or so she thought), and Bodie falling hard for the four-legged Winnie, who moves to Oregon – necessitating a visit.
Along the way, Bodie experiences Carmel Beach for the first time, gets a dog massage at the luxurious San Ysidro Ranch in California, and meets Bo Derek, a life-long animal rights activist. Not bad for a rescue.
Chatty, charming and easy to read by the beach, you’ll be inspired to grab your pup and jump in the car. Spoiler alert: Jones’ lost love appears near the final chapter to complete the narrative arc and end with a satisfying epiphany. Whether romance is rekindled or not, I’ll leave that as a surprise for you dear reader, but ultimately Bodie is the hero amid the distress.
NOTE: Belinda Jones has returned to her roots and recently released “The Hotel Where We Met,” a time-travel romance inspired by her favourite sea-side luxury resort. (affiliate link). WIN your own copy below!
Sorry I Humped Your Leg
by Jeremy Greenberg
Sorry I Humped Your Leg (affiliate link) is ideal for taking on a road trip or waiting at the airline gate. In fact, I found several of the series in an airport bookstore.
These little funny books tuck neatly into a carry-on and read in short bursts. Forget the phone and read these bite-sized vignettes from comedian Jeremy Greenberg.
Inspired by the photos of dogs that people sent him, Greenberg writes a monologue from the dog’s point of view – clever, funny and sometimes a bit disturbing. Sorry I Humped Your Leg is one of several pet-inspired comedic narratives that started with Sorry I Pooped in Your Shoe and Sorry I Slept on Your Face, dedicated to his first cat who he says saved his life as a kid. Many pet-lovers can relate.
Check out the Sorry I… series on Amazon (affiliate link)
Really Important Stuff My Dog Has Taught Me
by Cynthia L. Copeland
Similarly, the harder to find Really Important Stuff My Dog Has Taught Me (affiliate link) is as easy to pack and go as Sorry I Humped Your Leg, but I’d hesitate to read it in public.
If it wasn’t for a pull-on-the-heart-string additions, this would be another pet picture book juxtaposed with inspirational quotes such as “Greet loved ones with enthusiasm whether they have been gone ten minutes, or ten months.”
Added are a few longer self-help insights gleaned from observing dogs. My favourite? “Chihuahuas don’t waste time wishing they were Rottweilers. A mutt is as confident as a purebred. No dog suffers from feelings of inadequacy or issues of self-esteem; no dog compares himself to other dogs to determine his self-worth.”
But what keeps me from reading this book outside of hotel room walls? Stories about dog heroes wedged between poster-style images with quotes makes eyes well up. For instance, Salty, the guide-dog refused to leave his blind partner’s side and led him down 70 flights of stairs for one hour amid the chaos of the Twin Towers collapsing. Both survived.
Find Really Important Stuff on Amazon here (affiliate link)
The Secret Language of Dogs
by Victoria Stilwell
The Secret Language of Dogs (affiliate link) isn’t a new book, but I’m finally getting around to reading something by Victoria Stilwell, a dog trainer who pounced on the scene questioning conventional understanding of alpha dogs and dominance training.
Positive reinforcement of desirable behaviour is key. According to Stilwell, ‘harsh training methods have produced a population of emotionally distressed dogs that display worrying and sometimes dangerous behaviour.”
The first time I encountered Stilwell was at a pet expo in Toronto, back when the expo featured guest speakers. She stepped off the stage and took a purse from an audience member, then told her she wasn’t getting it back. “Are you getting nervous?” Stilwell asked. Of course, was the answer because in that bag was the woman’s ‘resources’ – keys, money, a way home. Clearly, the demonstration depicted resource guarding, something we discourage in dogs. Yet natural.
Maybe understanding why is preferable to ‘don’t.’
In The Secret Language of Dogs, Stilwell promises to unlock the canine mind for a happier pet and teach us how to better communicate with our dogs in a positive way. I’m willing to learn, but after seven years I hope I don’t find out I’ve been doing it all wrong.
Get your copy of The Secret Language of Dogs here (affiliate link)
by Andre Alexis
Ok, not specifically about dogs – rather it’s fiction about the human condition as experienced by dogs – I had to pick up this book when I saw it on a used book sale table. Fifteen Dogs (affiliate link) received a lot of acclaim when originally released – including winning the 2015 Giller Prize and 2015 Toronto Book Award. (Yes, I’m behind on my reading).
Fifteen Dogs launches from the premise that animals would be unhappy if given human intelligence. So… the gods Hermes and Apollo launch an experiment and randomly assign human consciousness and language to a group of dogs unfortunate enough to be over-night residents at a Toronto vet clinic.
Division and struggle predictably ensues and likely there are many lessons to learn from anthropomorphizing animals and seeing what they do with the complex thoughts we’re burden with. I anticipate learning something about the human condition.
I’ll let you know after I take my stacks of tomes on vacation this summer.
Find Fifteen Dogs here (affiliate link)
CONTEST! Win a copy of The Hotel Where We Met by Belinda Jones. What are you reading this summer?
[UPDATE: Contest Closed. Congrats to the winners. Books have been sent!]
Let us know in the comments below. The first three comments will receive a copy of The Hotel Where We Met (via Amazon).
Note: comments are pending approval and won’t appear immediately.