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Man’s Best Friend: Books With Canine Companions

What could be better than looking at photos of dogs?
Well I mean, owning said dogs would obviously be the best choice, but excluding that option, reading about those fantastic friends is a decent runner up!

We’ve dug around for some great reads containing those loyal companions, and found some real good boys (and girls).

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Laika – Nick Abadzis

Laika was the abandoned puppy destined to become Earth’s first space traveler. This is her journey.

Nick Abadzis masterfully blends fiction and fact in the intertwined stories of three compelling lives. Along with Laika there is Korolev, once a political prisoner and now a driven engineer at the top of the Soviet space program, and Yelena, the lab technician responsible for Laika’s health and life. 

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Starting From Here – Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Sixteen-year-old Colby Bingham’s heart has been broken too many times. Her mother has been dead for almost two years, her truck driver father is always away, her almost girlfriend just dumped her for a guy, and now she’s failing chemistry.

When a stray dog lands literally at her feet, bleeding and broken on a busy road, it seems like the Universe has it in for Colby. But the incident also knocks a chink in the walls she’s built around her heart. Against her better judgment, she decides to care for the dog.

But new connections mean new opportunities for heartbreak. Terrified of another loss, Colby bolts at the first sign of trouble, managing to alienate her best friend, her father, the cute girl pursuing her, and even her dog’s vet, who’s taken Colby under her wing. Colby can’t start over, but can she learn how to move on?

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How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get A Life (And A Dog) – Art Corriveau

Nicky Flynn’s life just got a whole lot harder. His parents are going through a messy divorce, and as a result he’s starting a new life, in a new city, in a new school. Now his mom has brought home Reggie, an eighty-pound German shepherd fresh from the animal shelter, who used to be a seeing-eye dog. At first Nick isn’t sure about this canine intrusion—it’s just another in a series of difficult changes. Soon, however, Nick is on the path to finding out why a seeing-eye dog would be left at an animal shelter, and along the way discovers that Reggie is a true friend that Nick can rely on. But when he tries to reconnect with his dad, Nick puts everything on the line, including the life of his new best friend.

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Diamond Willow – Helen Frost

There’s
more to me than
most people
see.

Twelve-year-old Willow would rather blend in than stick out. But she still wants to be seen for who she is. She wants her parents to notice that she is growing up. She wants her best friend to like her better than she likes a certain boy. She wants, more than anything, to mush the dogs out to her grandparents’ house, by herself, with Roxy in the lead. But sometimes when it’s just you, one mistake can have frightening consequences . . . And when Willow stumbles, it takes a surprising group of friends to help her make things right again.

Using diamond-shaped poems inspired by forms found in polished diamond willow sticks, Helen Frost tells the moving story of Willow and her family. Hidden messages within each diamond carry the reader further, into feelings Willow doesn’t reveal even to herself.

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Stray – Stacey Goldblatt

When 16-year-old Natalie Kaplan meets a new person, she knows right away what kind of dog they’d be. Natalie herself resembles an Ibizan hound—quiet, playful, loyal, smart, and above all, obedient. Actually, Natalie has been trained so well that sometimes she thinks her mother is secretly controlling her with a dog whistle. (Her mom is a respected veterinarian with a successful clinic, so it’s not that much of a stretch.)

Just like the Ibizan, Natalie is very mindful of her master’s rules, but at the first sign of freedom, she is prone to stray. And who can blame her when the gorgeous and mysterious Carver Reed comes to live with the Kaplan family for the summer? Little by little, Natalie is drawn to Carver’s spontaneity and free spirit, and before long, she turns into another breed of girl, who surprisingly bites the hand that feeds her.

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When Friendship Followed Me Home – Paul Griffin

Ben Coffin has never been one for making friends. As a former foster kid, he knows people can up and leave without so much as a goodbye. Ben prefers to spend his time with the characters in his favorite sci-fi books…until he rescues an abandoned mutt from the alley next-door to the Coney Island Library. Scruffy little Flip leads Ben to befriend a fellow book-lover named Halley—yes, like the comet—a girl unlike anyone he has ever met. Ben begins thinking of her as “Rainbow Girl” because of her crazy-colored clothes and her laugh, pure magic, the kind that makes you smile away the stormiest day.  Rainbow Girl convinces Ben to write a novel with her.  But as their story unfolds Ben’s life begins to unravel, and Ben must discover for himself the truth about friendship and the meaning of home.

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Hammered – Kevin Hearn
(Book 3 of The Iron Druid Chronicles)

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully – he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.

One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plane of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.

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Voyage Of Slaves – Brian Jacques
(Book 3 of the Flying Dutchman series)

Adrift in the Mediterranean Sea, Ben falls captive to a band of slave traders and their leader Al Misurata. With his faithful dog Ned at his side, Ben must plot escape as the ship of scoundrels sails up the Libyan coastline toward Italy, where a trap awaits. Ruthless enemies and hard times appear around every bend, but Ben and Ned have quick wits to rely on and, just as important, one another.

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Cracker! The Best Dog In Vietnam – Cynthia Kadohata

CRACKER IS ONE OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY’S MOST VALUABLE WEAPONS:  a German shepherd trained to sniff out bombs, traps, and the enemy. The fate of entire platoons rests on her keen sense of smell. She’s a Big Deal, and she likes it that way. Sometimes Cracker remembers when she was younger, and her previous owner would feed her hot dogs and let her sleep in his bed. That was nice, too. 

Rick Hanski is headed to Vietnam. There, he’s going to whip the world and prove to his family and his sergeant — and everyone else who didn’t think he was cut out for war — wrong. But sometimes Rick can’t help but wonder that maybe everyone else is right. Maybe he should have just stayed at home and worked in his dad’s hardware store.

When Cracker is paired with Rick, she isn’t so sure about this new owner. He’s going to have to prove himself to her before she’s going to prove herself to him. They need to be friends before they can be a team, and they have to be a team if they want to get home alive.

Told in part through the uncanny point of view of a German shepherd, Cracker! is an action-packed glimpse into the Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of a dog and her handler.

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Runaway Twin – Peg Kehret

A unique story of separated twins and the unexpected consequences of their reunion.

Sunny Skyland longs to be reunited with her twin sister, Starr. With only an old photograph, taken a few days before the girls were separated at age three, to guide her, Sunny begins the cross-country journey that she has dreamed of during her ten years in various foster homes. Sunny manages to locate her twin, only to be faced with a whole new challenge.

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Copper – Kazu Kibuishi

Copper is curious, Fred is fearful. And together boy and dog are off on a series of adventures through marvelous worlds, powered by Copper’s limitless enthusiasm and imagination.
Each Copper and Fred story in this graphic novel collection is a complete vignette, filled with richly detailed settings and told with a wry sense of humor. These two enormously likable characters build ships and planes to travel to surprising destinations and have a knack for getting into all sorts of odd situations.

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The Trouble With Cupid – Laura Langston

What does Erin Morris have to do to get the school’s most popular hottie, Zach Cameron, to ask her out?

When a dog food company announces a competition for the “new face of Cheesebarkers” TV ad campaign, a school committee forms to find a school mascot and train it so they can win the prize money for the school. And Zach Cameron is on the committee. What better place to show off her talents as a dog trainer and impress Zach?

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The Call Of The Wild and White Fang – Jack London

The canine hero of The Call of the Wild is Buck, a pampered pet in California who is stolen and forced to be a sled dog in the Alaskan wilderness. There he suffers from the brutal extremes of nature and equally brutal treatment by a series of masters, until he learns to heed his long-buried instincts and turn his back on civilization. 

White Fang charts the reverse journey, as a fierce wolf-dog hybrid born in the wild is eventually tamed. White Fang is adopted as a cub by a band of Indians, but when their dogs reject him he grows up violent, defensive, and dangerous. Traded to a man who stages fights, he is forced to face dogs, wolves, and lynxes in gruesome battles to the death, until he is rescued by a gold miner who sets out to earn his trust.

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My Boyfriend’s Dogs: The Tale Of Adam And Eve And Shirley – Dandi Mackall

If only boys were more like dogs.

On a stormy night in St. Louis, Bailey Daley finds refuge in an after-hours diner. Bailey, a girl with three dogs in tow, wearing a soaking-wet prom dress, obviously has a story to tell. See, she wants what every girl wants from her boyfriend: enthusiasm, loyalty, and unconditional love. And Bailey is always falling in love with boys, and with their dogs. And each of her dogs came from a relationship that didn’t quite work out. But don’t worry: in this fun, clean romance, true love is never far away, it just waits until you stop looking for it.

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The Unexpected Everything – Morgan Matson

Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top-tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie has her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?

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Kavik The Wolf Dog – Walt Morey

When Andy Evans stumbles upon the snow-covered wreckage of a small plane, he’s shocked to find a survivor. Should he put the gravely injured dog out of his misery? The look in the animal’s eyes says he’s not ready to die. It turns out that Kävik’s a champion sled dog, and soon he makes a full recovery. When his rightful owner finds out Kävik is alive, he wants the dog back. But Kävik has other ideas.

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Frogkisser! – Garth Nix

The Last Thing She Needs Is a Prince.
The First Thing She Needs Is Some Magic.


Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land — and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

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Rotten – Michael Northrop

A troubled teen. A rescued Rottweiler. An unlikely friendship.

Jimmer “JD” Dobbs is back in town after spending the summer “upstate.” No one believes his story about visiting his aunt, and it’s pretty clear that he has something to hide. It’s also pretty clear that his mom made a new friend while he was away—a rescued Rottweiler that JD immediately renames Johnny Rotten (yes, after that guy in the Sex Pistols). Both tough but damaged, JD and Johnny slowly learn to trust each other, but their newfound bond is threatened by a treacherous friend and one snap of Johnny’s powerful jaws. As the secrets JD has tried so hard to keep under wraps start to unravel, he suddenly has something much bigger to worry about: saving his dog.

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Brian’s Hunt – Gary Paulsen
(Book 5 of the Brian’s Saga series)

Brian Robeson has stood up to the challenge of surviving the wilderness in Hatchet, The River, Brian’s Winter, and Brian’s Return. Now, while camping alone on a lake in the woods, he finds a wounded and whimpering dog. As Brian treats her wounds, he worries about who or what did this to her. His instincts tell him to head north, quickly, to check on his Cree friends. With his new companion at his side, he sets out on the hunt.

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Hunted – Christopher Russell

Brind, who was raised with Sir Edmund’s pack of hunting dogs, is the huntsman of Dowe Manor. Together with his best friend, the mastiff Glaive, and the rest of the pack, he protects Sir Edmund, Lady Beatrice, and their foster daughter, Aurélie.

But suddenly a tragedy strikes, one that Brind cannot prevent. In a fit of grief, Sir Edmund throws Brind, Glaive, and Aurélie—and her puppy, Gabion—out of the manor. Everywhere they turn, the vicious and lethal Black Death closely follows, as though they are bringing it with them. Can they evade this invisible enemy, as well as the angry mobs, the rogue soldiers, and the other sinister figures now threatening them? Glaive and Gabion—born to hunt, not to be hunted—may be their only chance for survival. Plague-bringers or not, Brind and Aurélie will never stop fighting to keep themselves—and their small family—alive.

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Eyes Of The Emperor – Graham Salisbury

Eddy Okubo lies about his age and joins the army in his hometown of Honolulu only weeks before the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Suddenly Americans see him as the enemy—even the U.S. Army doubts the loyalty of Japanese American soldiers.

Then the army sends Eddy and a small band of Japanese American soldiers on a secret mission to a small island off the coast of Mississippi. Here they are given a special job, one that only they can do. Eddy’s going to help train attack dogs. He’s going to be the bait.

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Trouble – Gary D. Schmidt

“Henry Smith’s father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you.”

But Trouble comes careening down the road one night in the form of a pickup truck that strikes Henry’s older brother, Franklin. In the truck is Chay Chouan, a young Cambodian from Franklin’s preparatory school, and the accident sparks racial tensions in the school—and in the well-established town where Henry’s family has lived for generations. Caught between anger and grief, Henry sets out to do the only thing he can think of: climb Mt. Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, which he and Franklin were going to climb together. Along with Black Dog, whom Henry has rescued from drowning, and a friend, Henry leaves without his parents’ knowledge. The journey, both exhilarating and dangerous, turns into an odyssey of discovery about himself, his older sister, Louisa, his ancestry, and why one can never escape from Trouble.

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Goodnight, Boy – Nikki Sheehan

The kennel has been JC’s home ever since his new adoptive father locked him inside. For hours on end, JC sits and tells his dog Boy how he came to this country: his family, the orphanage and the Haitian earthquake that swept everything away.

When his adoptive mother Melanie rescues him, life starts to feel normal again. Until JC does something bad, something that upset his new father so much that he and Boy are banished to the kennel. But as his new father gets sicker, JC realizes they have to find a way out. And so begins a stunning story of a boy, a dog and their journey to freedom.

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You Are Here – Jennifer Smith

Emma and her neighbor Peter are both lonely in a way that only bothers them occasionally. They both come from families they don’t quite understand. They both feel like something big is missing from their lives—and they’re both about to search for answers. When Emma makes a discovery that shakes the foundations of her identity, she convinces Peter to join her for a road trip. Each of them has something to find: For Emma, it is a grave—a grave that may be her only connection to her family. Peter is seeking something harder to define, but perhaps easier to navigate—a freedom, a sense of something more than what he has. Together, they take to the open road, engaging in a universal quest to make sense of who they are and where they come from…and learning a thing or two about love along the way.

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The Captain’s Dog: My Journey With The Lewis And Clark Tribe – Roland Smith

Born the runt of his litter and gambled away to a rusty old riverman, the Newfoundland pup Seaman doesn’t imagine his life will be marked by any kind of glory–beyond chasing down rats. But when he meets Captain Meriwether Lewis, Seaman finds himself on a path that will make history. Lewis is just setting off on his landmark search for the Northwest Passage, and he takes Seaman along. Sharing the curiosity and strength of spirit of his new master, Seaman proves himself a valuable companion at every turn. Part history, part science–and adventure through and through–The Captain’s Dog is the carefully researched, thrilling tale of America’s greatest journey of discovery, as seen through the keen, compassionate eyes of a remarkable dog.

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Fetching – Kiera Stewart

Olivia has just about had it with the popular kids at school. She and her friends have done nothing to deserve evil pranks and awful name-calling, but that doesn”t stop queen bee Brynne from humiliating them on a daily basis. If only Olivia”s classmates were more like the adorable dogs she helps her grandmother train—poorly behaved, but improvable. Wait…what if her tormentors” behavior actually could be modified using the same type of training that works on dogs? Olivia and her friends are desperate enough to give it a try. But is it really possible that the underdogs of Hubert C. Frost Middle School could make it to head of the pack?

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Water Balloon – Audrey Vernick

Marley’s life is as precarious as an overfull water balloon—one false move and everything will burst. Her best friends are pulling away from her, and her parents, newly separated, have decided she should spend the summer with her dad in his new house, with a job she didn’t ask for and certainly doesn’t want. On the upside is a cute boy who loves dogs as much as Marley does . . . but young love has lots of opportunity for humiliation and misinterpreted signals. Luckily Marley is a girl who trusts her instincts and knows the truth when she sees it, making her an immensely appealing character and her story funny, heartfelt, and emotionally true.

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