Coming home from the beach recently, my kids faces tanned and relaxed, there was a sadness hanging thick in the car as we thought about the fact that the trip was our last hurrah of the summer. Soon we’d be scouring the aisles of the superstore, on the hunt for packs of #2 pencils and two pocket pronged folders. Until the moment my husband mentioned picking up our beloved Hattie at the kennel on the way into town. Sadness immediately took a backseat to excitement and giddiness, as the boys anticipated being reunited with their furry friend, wet puppy dog kisses and all.
Loyal, forgiving, compassionate, protective, comforting, playful, loving, and sweet. These are just a handful of adjectives that come to mind when I think of my dog and countless others I know. But family dogs aren’t the only ones we need to celebrate during this month. The working dogs of the world deserve a shout out, too.
Guide dogs aid in their owner’s everyday lives, by helping them avoid obstacles, negotiate traffic, and account for changes in elevation like curbs and stairs. A guide dog can give his owner confidence that a cane cannot provide. A graduate from Guide Dogs of America referred to his guide dog as his “new set of wheels.” In his commencement speech, he ceremoniously pulled out his red and white walking cane, saying, “Today, this is now my spare tire.”
I recently told a story about an assistance dog who made running the Asheville, NC Spartan Race possible for his owner. Assistance dogs help those suffering from PTSD, seizure disorders, or mental illness. They can even remind people with a mental illness to take prescribed medicines.
In honor of National Dog Day, celebrated Saturday, August 26, I’ve compiled a list of must read dog books. If you are a dog lover, the proud owner of an assistance dog, or spend your days looking after four-legged patients, you’ll want to add these to your summer reading list. I’ve included a picture book for the young reader, a classic, and a few more recent titles. I have read each one on the list, and can give them all glowing reviews.
A silly, but touching story of how a lonely dog finds his home in the most unexpected of places, and through his journey helps a shop owner come to the realization that relationship is more important than perfection.
A timeless classic, portraying the bond between a boy and his dogs. A great “coming of age,” read, you’ll find yourself in a multitude of emotions, cheering the hunting dogs on and rejoicing in their successes, then picking up the pieces of your heart when the dogs meet their match.
A story of trouble and pain, triumph and overcoming, told through the eyes of an uncannily smart and observant canine. Stein beautifully portrays the unchanging love Enzo has for his master, through the joyous and messy parts of life. Enzo is quite a hilarious story teller, and his humor lightens the mood many times throughout the story. Just have your tissues handy.
Winn-Dixie is a mangy, homeless dog, affectionately named after he is found by Opal in the Winn-Dixie supermarket. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal’s father begins to open up about her mother, who has been absent since she was three, and Opal begins to look outside herself, and learn to live and love again. This story is a beautiful tale of how a summer of hilarious shenanigans, led by the gregarious Winn-Dixie, can help ease the heartbreak of a girl who aches for a relationship with her mother.
This one is also told through the eyes of a dog, only this time, the dog goes through four different lives in the course of the book. In each life, he finds his purpose, from being the playmate and faithful companion to “his boy,” Ethan, to playing the part of reliable search and rescue dog. In the end, he fulfills his ultimate purpose as he reunites his boy with his childhood crush. Heartwarming and thought-provoking, this one is a keeper for sure.