Dog Stories: Dean Koontz’s Five Favorite Canine Books

The famous author and dog lover recommends top inspirational stories to read now.

by Dean Koontz from "The Literarian"

Dog Stories: Dean Koontz’s Five Favorite Canine BooksCourtesy Jerry Bauer
Having written several novels in which dogs play leading roles and many more in which they are supporting players, having written five books from the point of view of my golden retriever, Trixie, and having written a memoir of Trixie after her death, I am rather widely known—so far as I am known at all—as a dog lover. Some even think I am dog-obsessed. Guilty. I happen to feel that if people were always as humble, dutiful, giving, and straightforward as dogs, the world would be a better place. Here, in no particular order, are five books about dogs, fiction and nonfiction, that have charmed me over the years.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
From what I’d heard about this novel, I didn’t want to like it. For one thing, reincarnation plays a role in the endgame, which I was pretty sure would be hokey as hell. For another thing, I suspected the dog’s voice would strike me as unbelievably wise. I was wrong. This is a fine story full of honest emotion, which dares to say two things that are rarely said in modern fiction, which is generally nihilistic or too hip to believe in anything beyond the material. Those two things are: We have souls, and the world is a mysterious place. This is a moving story about love, tragedy, commitment, humility, and redemption. It embraces the idea that life has dimensions we cannot see but that if we are honest with ourselves, we intuit every day of our lives.

City by Clifford D. Simak
Often science fiction is little concerned with characterization, favoring story and/or intriguing scientific speculations instead. Simak always wove complex and believable characters. In these eight tales, written in the 1940s and collected into a novel in 1952, Simak creates many strong characters, but especially an endearing robot named Jenkins and, beginning in the third of the eight, a series of wonderful dogs, who by the end of the novel have inherited a world in which humankind no longer exists and is a legend on the way to becoming a myth.

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  • Your Comments

    • KJ Mansfield

      Unlike Dean Koontz, who’s a brilliant and prolific author, I have managed to write just one book, so far. The Flyball 5: The adventures of 5 abandoned puppies.
      Here’s a brief version of why I decided to write the book.
      On a sultry summer’s day as a three years old, I climbed out of a window when I was supposed to be having an afternoon nap and wandered off to the local train station and on to the tracks.
      Luckily for me, the family dog, a Boxer named Raf, jumped out of the window after me and kept me company, instinctively pushing me away whenever I ventured near any of the electric rails that would have given me a fatal shock if I had touched one of them.
      Raf, who later had 13 puppies in a single litter, undoubtedly saved my life that day.
      The books Dean discusses in his article are classics of their kind and the only person ever likely to mention my book in the same context as them is me.
      First and foremost, The Flyball 5 is intended to be an entertaining read but, hopefully, it just might encourage kindness towards dogs too.