There is a multitude of reasons why dogs have been given the title “Man’s Best Friend.” Humans and dogs have celebrated a millennia-long relationship of loyalty, friendship, and companionship. It only makes sense that this holiday for our furry friends comes around twice a year! On July 31st and December 2nd, National Mutt Day seeks to remind us that mutts – despite their murky lineages and unique features- deserve our pets, scratches, and love, too!
According to the ASPCA, around 3.3 million dogs are brought to shelters every year. Although research shows that approximately 47% of all dogs in American homes are purebred, only 5% of dogs in shelters aren’t mixed breed. That means that 95% of dogs in shelters are considered mutts! Regardless of their genetic makeup, each of these surrendered, abandoned, abused, or strayed dogs are in desperate need of a forever home!
Most people observe National Mutt Day by visiting, volunteering at, or donating to a shelter. But if you’re not in a place to adopt- or your house is already overflowing with furry friends like mine – here are five fictional books to read about rescue dogs.
Just Life by Neil Abramson
In Neil Abramson’s second novel, Just Life, he explores the tightly-knit bond between humans and animals… and what would happen if this connection was taken away.
Veterinarian Samantha Lewis runs a no-kill shelter for surrendered, abused, and abandoned dogs in the metropolis of New York City. Samantha and her team face many challenges, like financing the shelter and finding room for the never-ending amount of dogs in need of their care. However, Samantha’s biggest challenge comes when a novel, dangerous virus begins spreading across her neighborhood. With the location of the shelter, the medical community believes that dogs are the main culprit. Soon, the governor calls in the National Guard to enforce a quarantine. No dog can leave the area.
After working with dogs throughout her career, Samantha knows that the quarantine may only be the beginning. By calling on a crew of unlikely friends- a priest, a teenager, a psychologist, and a cop – Samantha must do anything she can to protect herself and her four-legged friends.
The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances by Ellen Cooney
Ellen Cooney’s ninth novel, The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances, is the ideal, feel-good read for all animal aficionados.
Evie, an emotionally troubled 24-year-old, has been looking for two things for as long as she can remember- adventure and belonging. That’s why, when she saw an online job application for “The Sanctuary,” she immediately applied. And that’s how, without any experience, she became the newest (and only) trainee at a shelter for rescue dogs. At the bottom of a ski resort, Evie must learn to connect with these distressed animals. She also must attempt to earn the respect of Mrs. Auberchon, the stern caretaker of the inn on the mountaintop.
As Evie graduates from training sessions and begins to go on more dangerous rescue missions, she begins to learn that the only thing wrong with these animals are the demons from their past. And maybe, just maybe, these demons haunt Mrs. Auberchon and Evie, too.
Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde
In Say Goodbye For Now, Catherine Ryan Hyde writes a lively story about the relationship between four outcasts and how a dog brought them together.
On an isolated Texas ranch in 1959, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. But she doesn’t mind the solitude. It helps her stay away from places that remind her of her troubled past, and people who don’t respect her as a doctor of color. However, all of this changes when Calvin and Justin Bell, an African American father and son, move to town.
Justin soon finds a friend in Pete Solomon, a neglected 12-year-old boy. When these young outcasts bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy’s care, Lucy realizes that she can make human connections again. Perhaps, she can even find love. But when their racist hometown finds out about this unlikely friendship, they turn violently against them. Dr. Lucy knows that her only option is to say goodbye to Calvin, Justin, and Pete. But as she cares for the dog that brought them together, she holds onto the hope that they will all be reunited once again.
Biloxi by Mary Miller
In a twist of southern literature, Mary Miller’s Biloxi imagines what happens to a man’s humanity when he doesn’t like other people… at all.
Louis McDonald Jr. is 63 years old, but he never grew out of his childlike, troublemaking phase. His wife of thirty-seven years recently left him, his father passed away, and he retired from his job on a whim, waiting for an inheritance check that may never come. Most of his time is spent watching television, avoiding his ex-wife, and eating his leftovers from Chili’s. However, all of this changes when he finds an unlikely companion.
On his usual trip to Walgreens to pick up his diabetes medication, Louis sees a sign advertising free dogs. Something in him tells him to stop and check it out. There, he meets Harry Davidson, a man who claims to have more than a dozen loving canines to offer but only shows Louis one. Without any time to think or rationalize, Louis decides to take the dog home. Over time, Louis finds himself struck with love for this overweight, mixed breed named Layla. And if a dog can make him feel this much, maybe he can reevaluate what truly matters in life.
As The Stars Fall by Steve N. Lee
Steve N. Lee’s novel As The Stars Fall is sure to pull at your heartstrings. But perhaps the main aspect that sets this book apart from the others is the unlikely narrator: an abandoned puppy named Kai.
Kai has never known the warmth of a home or the love of a family. Since his birth, he has roamed the streets, starving and afraid. Everywhere he goes, nasty people chase him away, and dangerous animals threaten him. After a hound dog attacks and injures Kai, he thinks that he will be left to die on the side of the road. However, Kai’s luck begins to change when Mia, a young girl on a walk with her dad, begs to bring Kai home.
Unsure of his new environment, Kai avoids his friendly companions as much as possible. After all, people haven’t always been good to him. However, as Kai adjusts to his new world, he realizes Mia needs him just as much as he needs her. As their brokenness brings them together, Kai and Mia learn how to love once again.
Happy National Mutt Day! If you love your furry friends, you are sure to love these five fictional books about rescue dogs. When you’re done reading, visit a shelter! If you can’t adopt a dog, you can always volunteer. Interested in checking out more pet-themed books? Click here to go to Bookstr.