Sophie: The Incredible True Story of the Castaway Dog by Emma Pearse
Cover: Daryl Wright/Rex Features and Matthieu Paley/Corbis
Sophie: The Incredible True Story of the Castaway Dog
By Emma Pearse
336 pages; Da Capo Press

Sophie, a 3-year-old Australian cattle dog, was beloved by the Griffith family for her sweet, companionable nature. After falling overboard on a holiday boating trip, Sophie somehow managed to navigate the treacherous, predator-infested waters of the Great Barrier Reef; she washed up on the shore of a wildlife reserve and used her canine instincts to get by on a tiny island populated by goats, birds and butterflies. This loyal-to-the-end loner continually spurned well-meaning advances from the island's human caretakers, presumably holding out for rescue by her owners—for more than four long months. Journalist Emma Pearse pieces together Sophie's harrowing ordeal from interviews with family members and island locals and tenderly describes the effect the dog's disappearance had on the heartbroken Griffiths. For dog owners who have ever gazed into the adoring eyes of their pet and felt like there were no bounds to what this creature would do for them...well, in affirming the unbreakable bond between humans and dogs, this book will confirm that hunch.
Corrie Pikul
Huck by Janet Elder
Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D
Huck: The Remarkable True Story of How One Lost Puppy Taught a Family—and a Whole Town—About Hope and Happy Endings
By Janet Elder
304 pages; Broadway

A breast cancer diagnosis convinces Manhattanite Janet Elder to finally let her son, Michael, get a puppy. She hopes the adorable red-haired toy poodle will give him something happy to focus on during her treatment. But Huck changed more than just one boy's life—he made Elder think differently about the people around her. Leaving Huck with her sister in suburban New Jersey, Elder and family head to Florida for vacation. When the nine-pound puppy runs away, they rush back to search for him—and find countless strangers who volunteer to help. There isn't much suspense about the outcome—but who cares? This dog book actually makes you feel better about people. — Karen Holt

Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin
Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D
Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love
By Larry Levin
224 pages; Grand Central

Oogy is a dog who gets noticed—and not always in a good way. With the mass of scar tissue covering the mutilated left side of his face and his missing ear, strangers fail to see Oogy's inner beauty. Not so Larry Levin, who tells the inspiring story of how Oogy not only survived grotesque brutality—as a puppy he was bait for fighting dogs—but kept his gentle, trusting nature. Rescued barely alive in a police raid, Oogy, an Argentine Dogo (a little-known breed), goes to live with Levin and his family. Through Oogy, Levin learns to deal with his own, less visible wounds and observes the dog's effect on other emotionally scarred people: "If this dog can go through the hell he did and emerge capable of giving and generating as much love as he does, so can they." — Karen Holt

Born to Bark by Stanley Coren
Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D
Born to Bark: My Adventures with an Irrepressible and Unforgettable Dog
By Stanley Coren
320 pages; Free Press

Wife, husband, and terrier form an awkward triangle in this quirky blend of history, science, and personal experience by psychologist and trainer Stanley Coren (who also wrote The Intelligence of Dogs). His new book reveals how Coren's unruly terrier, Flint, increased the author's insight into canine-human interaction—while straining husband-wife relations. When Flint loudly awakens the couple at 3 A.M., Coren goes into historical detail explaining to his wife, Joan, that "terriers are bred to bark." She is not impressed. Nor is she amused when she wakes up to find Flint has deposited a dead mouse on her chest. Infuriatingly for Joan, Coren sees these and other antics as delightful proof of Flint's terrier-ness. The author has a lot to teach us about dogs. About marriage, not so much. — Karen Holt

Katie Up and Down the Hall by Glenn Plaskin
Katie Up and Down the Hall: The True Story of How One Dog Turned Neighbors into a Family
By Glenn Plaskin
272 pages; Center Street

In his heart-tugging memoir, Katie Up and Down the Hall: The True Story of How One Dog Turned Neighbors into a Family, Glenn Plaskin credits a gregarious cocker spaniel for with uniting the multigenerational residents of his apartment building. — Karen Holt

What a Difference a Dog Makes by Dana Jennings
What a Difference a Dog Makes: Big Lessons on Life, Love, and Healing from a Small Pooch
By Dana Jennings
176 pages; Doubleday

Fighting his own illness and caring for a sick son, Dana Jennings gets solace and inspiration from his miniature poodle, Bijou, in What a Difference a Dog Makes: Big Lessons on Life, Love, and Healing from a Small Pooch. Focus on the poignant story; ignore the gimmicky chunks of doggie "wisdom." — Karen Holt

You Had Me at Woof by Julie Klam
You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness
By Julie Klam
240 pages; Riverhead

A member of a dog rescue group, Julie Klam writes, "When I began to help give voice to these creatures ... I felt the balance come into my own life" (page 53). Her warm, often funny memoir, You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness, recalls the dogs she's helped save—and how they saved her. — Karen Holt

Dogs and the Women Who Love Them by Allen and Linda Anderson
Dogs and the Women Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing, and Inspiration
By Allen and Linda Anderson
256 pages; New World Library

The rescuing works both ways again in Allen and Linda Anderson's Collection, Dogs and the Women Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing, and Inspiration, as canines who've suffered abuse, neglect or misfortune seek and comfort humans who've endured the same. — Karen Holt

Through a Dog's Eyes by Jennifer Arnold
Through a Dog's Eyes
By Jennifer Arnold
240 pages; Spiegel & Grau

In Through a Dog's Eyes, Jennifer Arnold, founder of the service-dog organization Canine Assistants, argues for a kinder, gentler approach to training. Hint: Shock collars are about as constructive as they sound. — Karen Holt

The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving: How Dogs Have Captured Our Hearts for Thousands of Years
By Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
272 pages; HarperCollins

Referencing exhaustive research—and his adorable golden lab, Benjy—Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson explores how canines and humans evolved together in The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving: How Dogs Have Captured Our Hearts for Thousands of Years. — Karen Holt

Dogs on Rocks
Dogs on Rocks
By William Wegman
136 pages; A.S.A.P

Photographing the dogs outside is a little like fishing: Find a promising stretch, make a cast, catch and release, move on," writes William Wegman in his introduction to Dogs on Rocks. For fans of Wegman's iconic pooch portraits, these soulful, playful, and slyly humorous shots of Weimaraners (Wegman's signature breed) vamping and lolling on the harshly beautiful Maine coast offer all the satisfactions of landing a big catch. — Francine Prose
Dogs book
By Catherine Johnson and William Wegman
512 pages; Phaidon

Who knew that Fido and Flossy had such a thoroughly delightful family album! Dogs brings together 450 vintage, vernacular snapshots of pooches posed under tables and on front porches, in portrait studios and in the loving arms of children and grown-ups. Taken between the turn of the 20th century and the early 1950s, these images of pups—attentive and aloof, perky and proud—tell us all we need to know about the enduring bonds of affection between the humans and the adorable pets who so effortlessly steal the spotlight from their owners. — Francine Prose
By Sharon Montrose
120 pages; Stewart

We're all for good breeding, but the canine models in Sharon Montrose's gorgeously photographed Mutts have something even better—star power. What else does a media hound need, except great bones?
Nose Down, Eyes Up
Nose Down, Eyes Up
By Merrill Markoe
320 pages; Villard

Gil, the growly, slovenly, haplessly divorced fellow in Merrill Markoe's Nose Down, Eyes Up, is clueless about human relationships; frankly, he's a bit of an animal. Listening in as his favorite dog, Jimmy, counsels his fellow canines on life and love ("It's the big emotion behind snack time"), Gil bumbles through comic misadventures with his bouncy girlfriend, Sara, and his sexpot ex-wife, Eden. Read this novel for its nose-to-the-ground wisdom, its unsentimental take on family, and for the funniest, furriest pack of jokesters this side of the Marx Brothers. — Cathleen Medwick
Our Story Begins: New and Selected Short Stories
Our Story Begins: New and Selected Short Stories
By Tobias Wolff
400 pages; Knopf

Among the new pieces in Tobias Wolff's intensely pleasurable collection Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories is a brief, simple tale about a man, John, walking a dog. The dog, Victor, was John's wife's; now his wife is dead and walking him has fallen to John. Victor grieves for Grace, his lost owner, but on the walks he comes alive: "Grief could not deaden the scent of fallow deer and porcupine, of rabbits and rats and the little gray foxes that ate them." After an ominous encounter with a large, threatening dog, John imagines a strange dialogue in which Victor upbraids him for not loving Grace as much as he, Victor, has loved her. "I loved her with all my heart," John has Victor say. "You missed out on being forgiven," John replies. This story has so much of what has made Tobias Wolff one of the best story writers of his time: his irony and wit, his always present tenderness, his deep conscience (John is, through Victor, grieving too, and cataloging his sins), his willingness to hold on his tongue even the most bitter truths. This collection provides a clean, swift tour through Wolff's famous earlier stories ("In the Garden of the North American Martyrs," "Bullet in the Brain") and ends with ten new ones, each a more polished gem than the last. This is the work of a rare writer who understands that great stories do not seek finality and "closure" but something more accelerated than that—a kind of breathtaking expansion. — Vince Passaro

Dog Years
Dog Years
By Mark Doty
256 pages; HarperCollins

"To choose to live with a dog," Mark Doty writes, "is to agree to participate in a long process of interpretation." Life-affirming, lyrical, and profoundly affecting, Dog Years is the record of that interpretive journey, from the moment Doty first sees Arden—one of two retrievers that would challenge, shape, and eventually save his life—in a small cage at the animal shelter. "This is the point where love, the very beginning of love, shades right out of language's grasp." A few years later, as his partner, Wally, faces death, Doty returns to the shelter and adopts Beau, whose "absolute openness of regard" enchants him. In the years to come, it is Beau who becomes Doty's vessel, "himself, yes, plain, ordinary, and perfect in that sloppy dog way—but he carried something else for me, too, which was my will to live. I had given it to him to carry for me, like some king in a fairy tale..." Grief, hope, love, and art; Emily Dickinson, 9/11, depression, renewal, and the part in each of us we must " abandoned by God." Only Mark Doty could have written a dog book (100 percent soul, 0 percent sentimentality) that covers so much ground without ever abandoning its four-footed subjects. "It isn't that one wants to live for the sake of a dog, exactly," he reasons, "but that dogs show you why you might want to." — Pam Houston

By Lee Montgomery
256 pages; Viking

Another book about dogs? More slobber and soulfulness and uncurbed enthusiasm? Yes, because Woof!, edited by Lee Montgomery, is an especially fetching collection of essays (including two, by Abigail Thomas and Jim Shepard, first published in O) that proves you can't have too many lessons in ferocious devotion. Wolf down Anna Keesey's growling "Let's Go, My Love" and Chris Adrian's "A Good Creature"—as soulful as they come. — Cathleen Medwick

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