The Most Inspiring Books for Pet Lovers

The Most Inspiring Books for Pet Lovers

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As Barbara Garcia told  CBS News what had happened to her during the Oklahoma tornado disaster, she mentioned that her pet dog was still trapped beneath the rubble behind her. As she described her ordeal, suddenly a voice off camera said, “The dog! The dog!” From this point on in the video… well, if you don’t cry with joy and heartbreak, you’re made of stronger stuff than we are. Somehow Barbara and her pet schnauzer survived, and the filmed reunion brought to mind all our favorite pet stories in book form, from dogs and cats to a parrot, an owl, a pig, and even a lion. Enjoy these 10 animal-centric books that’ll move you as much as the story of Barbara Garcia’s amazing reunion with her dog.

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    1. Marley & Me

    For sheer comedy, nothing beats John Grogan’s bestselling account of what he calls “the world’s worst dog.” Marley, an incorrigible Labrador, goes from cute puppy to obedience training drop-out, though along the way he manages to intuit when his humans—the author, his wife Jenny, and their growing family—need him most.

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    2. The Dog Who Rescues Cats

    Ginny is a dog who kinda puts naughty Marley to shame—but, then, she puts us all to shame. A mutt with a heart of pure gold, Ginny rescues abandoned cats—hundreds of them. With her owner, a Vietnam vet who had been down on his luck until Ginny showed up, this extraordinary dog reaches across species lines to give the lie to the idea that cats and dogs can’t get along.

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    3. Homer’s Odyssey

    No word on if Ginny rescued any blind cats, but in Homer’s Odyssey,  Gwen Cooper is herself rescued by just such an animal. Homer comes into Cooper’s life at its lowest point—she’s underpaid and unloved—but, his bravery in the face of his disability ensures that when true love finally comes around, the unseeing cat has taught his owner how to recognize it.

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    4. Dewey

    Another cat who rescues its owner—not to mention a whole town—is Dewey the library cat. Returned to the library like an overdue book, Dewey arrived in the book slot one freezing evening in Spencer, Iowa. Over the course of the next 19 years, Dewey managed to charm not only library director Vicki Myron, but an entire town in need of a boost.

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    5. The Puppy Diaries

    Jill Abramson had no interest in a new dog after the death of her 14-year old West Highland white terrier, Buddy. However, when Scout, an adorable golden retriever, shows up in her life, all bets are off—especially when Abramson, the executive editor of the New York Times, faces the daunting world of puppy training.

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    6. Rin Tin Tin

    A dog whose fame outstrips even that of Barbara Garcia’s heroic schnauzer, Rin Tin Tin was, in his day, the most famous animal in the world. Susan Orlean spent eight years researching and writing this account of the silent film star from the 1920s, and how Lee Duncan (Rin Tin Tin’s original owner) desperately tried to keep the “brand” going after the dog’s demise.

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    7. A Lion Called Christian

    If it’s fame you’re after, there can be few animals more famous than Christian the Lion. Originally “rescued” from the pet department of Harrods of London in 1969 by two wealthy Australians, the lion cub was raised by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall until they realized he needed to be “free born.” George Adamson, a wildlife expert in Kenya, habilitated Christian to the wild but, a year later when Bourke and Rendall visited, Christian showed up— the resulting video, as well as the follow-up book, are both two-hanky jobs.

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    8. Wesley the Owl

    A real-life Hedwig, Wesley was an injured barn owl rescued by biologist Stacy O’Brien. This account of their subsequent 19-year relationship is garnished with numerous owl-related factoids and plenty of comedy.

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    9. Alex & Me

    Though Wesley the barn owl was a smart cookie, Alex the African gray parrot set the bar for bird intelligence. The bond between animal cognition expert Irene M. Pepperberg and Alex, forged over 30 years of friendship and research, was extraordinary—on top of that, it also improved our knowledge of how animals and humans learn.

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    10. The Good Good Pig

    No one ever said pigs were all that smart but, in the case of author Sy Montgomery’s unforgettable porker Christopher Hogwood, they can at least be good—and to Montgomery’s way of thinking, Hogwood was “good good.” Whether being returned from unscheduled visits to local homes or getting featured on NPR, Christopher Hogwood was the epitome of the unforgettable, inspirational pet: loyal, lovable, kind and a friend to everyone he encountered.

    This piece was updated on September 22, 2014.

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