Since we celebrated World Cat Day recently, it's only fitting that we pay tribute to man's best friend on August 26. National Dog Day is the perfect day to grab a few awesome books and cuddle with your favorite pup. Children's literature is filled with many stories about amazing pups: Clifford the Big Red Dog, Harry the Dirty Dog, Biscuit, Spot, Lassie, and Because of Winn Dixie, just to name a few enduring classics. Throughout history, dogs have been trained to do an amazing variety of jobs; here are my favorite children's books about real-life canine heroes:
Our Dogs to the Rescue! series was an enormous hit during our summer reading program; they were (and still are) constantly checked out. These nonfiction titles for newly independent readers feature dogs who sniff out bombs, guide dogs, wilderness search dogs, and more.
Lola Goes to Work is a short and sweet introduction to adorable Lola. Although Lola is a small terrier, she has a very big job as a therapy dog; she visits people in hospitals, listens to kids practice reading, and visits people in their home. Becoming a therapy dog wasn't easy for Lola, as she had to pass difficult training sessions and tests (if you've spent time with terriers, you know that they are independent little thinkers, which can make training challenging). This is a simple and charming introduction to the work of a therapy dog (would be a great book to read to our Paws to Read dogs!), but also a testament to working hard and perseverance.
Mogie: The Heart of the House is based on the true story of Mogie, the Labradoodle- in-residence at the Houston Ronald McDonald House. Mogie's littermates were quickly chosen and trained for guide dog positions, search and rescue work, dog show competition, and other jobs, but Mogie's temperament wasn't suitable for any such work. Luckily, it was figured out that Mogie was the ideal candidate for the Key Comfort Ambassador position at the Houston Ronald McDonald House, where he visits, cuddles, and plays with the families who stay there while they/their children receive long-term care at Houston hospitals. While not a very sad book, it is a sensitive portrayal of a dog who means a lot to children and families who are dealing with very serious situations (we are introduced to two children residing at the house), so pre-reading is important before reading it with little ones. Like Lola Goes to Work, this is an affirmative story of the contributions and gifts that everyone has and can give. You can learn more about the real Mogie on his website and see pictures on the Houston RMH's site.
Tuesday Tucks Me In , based on Capt. Luis Carlos Montalvan's memoir, is a touching, age-appropriate, and unique look at a different kind of service dog. While many children may be aware that service dogs help people who are blind, deaf, or use a wheelchair, they may not know that dogs help people who struggle with feeling very scared or nervous (Capt. Montalvan has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is not specifically named in this book). When Capt. Montalvan feels very stressed or scared, Tuesday helps him calm down. This is a loving representation of a very special bond.
Need books on dog care and training? Look in our J 636.7 section.
Happy National Dog Day!
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library