How I Met My Dog

Rescue Reads: 7 Fabulous Books About Rescue Dogs

Summer – especially a COVID-19 summer – is a great time to grab a book, catch a tan and learn more about your favorite four-legged friends. Love to read but never know what to pick up next? Enjoy this list of excellent reads about rescue dogs accompanied by their most compelling Amazon reviews.

Nitty Gritty & Informative

These books dive into the depths of animal rescue including some tough to read stories and suggestions on how the rescue world can improve moving forward. They’re excellent resources to learn more about where animal rescue is today and how you can play a role in improving it.

100 Dogs and Counting 

by Cara Sue Achterberg

“One Hundred Dogs and Counting is filled with heroic characters, hopeless situations, and wonderful dogs, many of whom have no chance at a good life in a loving home. It is a detailed collection of personal experiences derived from Cara’s journeys to visit dog rescues, shelters and, yes, pounds in some of the most economically depressed regions in America. One Hundred Dogs and Counting asks the important, serious question. Do dogs in rural animal shelters suffer and die “…because [people] don’t care or because they don’t know?” (1)

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption

By Jim Gorant

“I'm an animal lover who quite simply doesn't understand how some people can be so barbaric and disrespectful to any other living creature, so naturally I didn't want to read this book but at the same time I did, I was eager to learn of their rescue. I'm so glad I did read it. Although this book is full of heartache (yes, you're going to cry) it contains a wonderful restoring faith that there are some truly fantastic people out there. It's inspiring to read about the many people who fought tirelessly to giving the victims of Michael Vick a voice, the respect they deserve, and finally somewhere safe to live.” (2)

Rescuing Penny Jane

By Amy Sutherland

“One of the best books ever written about dogs and rescue. If you love dogs you will love the book; if you have volunteered in rescue you will love this book; if you have not volunteered in rescue you will love this book. Fantastic writing style; humorous and endearing. Amy Sutherland should get a hero's medal for her candid and honest stories of the best in animal rescue and many of the unsung heroes who have broken new ground in the field; and for addressing the fact most "problem dogs" are created by humans. You will admire this author as a devoted animal lover who has a gift for writing. I shy away from books about animals that make me cry; but she handled the dark part of shelter work in a way that you can consume the information and deal with the reality of "rescue work" but still want to keep on reading.” (3)

Children’s Books

Reading is an amazing way to help educate kids. When done well, a children’s book can shed light on difficult topics in a way that is easy for kids to learn, understand and remember as they grow and mature.

Before You Were Mine

Written by Maribeth Boelts

Illustrated by David Walker

“I was searching for the perfect book to introduce the issue of animal rescue for our service learning project and stumbled across Before You Were Mine. I cried the first time I read it to myself. As a preschool teacher it is very rare to find a book that is exactly what you need and want for a lesson. The questions the child in the story asks are perfect springboards for discussion. This was the best book to introduce our service learning project for our local animal shelter. It's not just for preschoolers, it would be the perfect book for almost any grade level because while the text is simple, the message is a big one.” (4)

Operation Rescue Dog

Written by Maria Gianferrari

Illustrated by Luisa Uribe

“…Lulu is a rescue dog, one who was found after being dumped near the highway. She is being taken on the Operation Rescue Dog truck to meet someone special. Alma's mother is serving in Iraq; "Alma wears Mami's scarf like a hug." Her Abuela agrees with Alma that they should get a rescue dog and they set out to meet the truck. As they drive Alma wonders "Can a dog feel like a hug?" After several misadventures, our two protagonists finally meet and we hold our breath as we wait to see if they will realize they belong together. Maria's words capture the feelings of Alma as she deals with the separation from her mother and her hope for a new friend in Lulu. She also manages to portray Lulu's experiences without humanizing her. The illustrations pick up important details such as Lulu's tail tucked between her legs in uncertainty, or Alma rubbing Mami's scarf against her cheek for comfort. Together, text and images tell a heartwarming story of family. The author's note explains about animal rescue and gives the names of some websites to follow, as well as some other ways to help if you cannot adopt an animal yourself. There is also a glossary of the Spanish words used in the story. A portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to Best Friends Animal Society.” (5)

Feel Good

These stories will brighten your day and bring a smile to your face as they tell true tales of the amazing relationships between dogs and their people.

Katie Up and Down the Hall

By Glen Plaskin

“This charming book is about much more than an adorable and spunky little dog. It shows how innocent affection, freely given, can draw very different people together to form a family of friends. It is also one of the most riveting accounts of how ordinary people survived 9/11. The author's first hand account of what it was like to be there put me "in that place" more than other accounts I've read. Whether the reader loves dogs or not, they would feel good after finishing this book since it is about so much more. I highly recommend it for it's charm, wit, humor, inspiration, and strength of the human spirit it recounts.” (6)

A Thousand Lifetimes

By Maria Reich

“Deeply touching and heartwarming. I was expecting a good story but quickly found so much more. Written from two different perspectives, this book reveals how intelligent, emotionally aware, intuitive, and capable of unconditional love our dogs truly are. I laughed, I cried, and most importantly believe even more deeply that the bond between animals and humans is complex, strong, deeply symbolic, and a true gift for both. Thank you for sharing not only your story, but Celeste’s as well! Amazing story and must read for all animal lovers.” (7)

Curl up with your pup(s) and enjoy these awesome reads while staying safe at home!


 (1) Kennedy, Martha Ann. Review of 100 Dogs and Counting, by Cara Sue Achterberg. Amazon, 7 July. 2020, https://www.amazon.com/One- Hundred-Dogs-Counting-Thousand/dp/1643134124#customerReviews

 (2) Julia. Review of The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption, by Jim Gorant. Amazon, 25 September. 2010, https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Dogs-Michael-Rescue-Redemption/dp/1592405509#customerReviews

 (3) Anonymous. Review of Rescuing Penny Jane, by Amy Sutherland. Amazon, 12 June. 2017, https://www.amazon.com/Rescuing-Penny-Jane-Volunteer-Countless-ebook/product-reviews/B01GCCMDE0

 (4) Levin, Vanessa. Review of Before You Were Mine, by Maribeth Boelts. Amazon, 9 March. 2013, https://www.amazon.com/Before-Were-Mine-Maribeth-Boelts/dp/039924526X#customerReviews

 (5) Anonymous. Review of Operation Rescue Dog, by Maria Gianferrari. Amazon, 10 November. 2018, https://www.amazon.com/Operation-Rescue-Dog-Maria-Gianferrari/dp/1499806671/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=operation+rescue+dog&qid=1594158135&s=books&sr=1-1#customerReviews

(6) Anonymous. Review of Katie Up and Down the Hall, by Glen Plaskin. Amazon, 25 December. 2013, https://www.amazon.com/Katie-Down-Hall-Neighbors-Nonfiction/dp/1410429571#customerReviews

(7) Smith, J. Review of A Thousand Lifetimes, by Maria Reich. Amazon, 24 January. 2019, https://www.amazon.com/Thousand-Lifetimes-Story-Woman-Sides/dp/1732822107#customerReviews

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