Must Read Books for 2013

It might appear as though I am jumping right into tackling one of my New Year’s resolutions to read more, but the truth is that I’ve had this post about dog books planned for ever since I got my fingers on the Kindle that Mark got me for Christmas.

I’ve unfortunately never been a big reader except for a book here or there that really caught my attention. Over the past year or so that small list has expanded ever so slightly, especially since I’ve found myself wanting to learn about more topics in addition to reading fiction stories. Whatever the reason, there are a few books that I’ve read or plan to read that I absolutely have to share with you!

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce CameronA-Dogs-Purpose

I cannot say enough good things about this book.  It’s written from the perspective of a dog, and the author does a fabulous job of putting to paper what we think our dogs would say if they could talk. It’s funny, endearing, and heartbreaking – and it touches on a lot of sheltering issues that are close to my heart. If you love dogs I so, so recommend this book for you to read. The sequel, A Dog’s Journey, was just released and is just as good.

Wallace by Jim Gorant

WallacebookOH MY GOSH I fell in love with this book before I even read it thanks to following Wallace the Pit Bull on Facebook.  Wallace is beyond adorable, and his personality shines through in every single photo of him, which is why I felt like I knew him before even opening the book. The book was so much better than I expected (probably because I didn’t know what to expect). It tells the story of Wallace, a dog who did not do well in a shelter setting because of his high energy and prey drive, and how those exact traits turned him into a flying disc dog champion thanks to two people who didn’t give up on him, Roo and Clara Yori.  It’s a heart warmer for any dog lover, and sends home the message that each dog is an individual no matter what they look like. I love love loved this book, and REALLY think you should read it too.  Since the book was written, Wallace has become a doggy brother to Hector, one of the Vicktory dogs.

The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant

lost-dogsWhile we’re on books written by Jim Gorant, I have to add The Lost Dogs. Most of you probably know this is the book about the Michael Vick dog fighting case, but the amount of information I learned from reading it blew me away. I had no idea what went into this investigation, and how truly monumental it was for dogs from fight busts everywhere.  It’s not for those who can’t handle too much animal cruelty, as it goes into some graphic detail, but it’s eye opening and certainly reminds you why we do what we do to help animals.  I was more motivated as ever after I read that book to go out and remind the world that every dog is an individual and should be treated as such, no matter where they come from.  The Bad Newz Kennels bust and aftermath set the precedent that dogs from fighting operations should be evaluated instead of immediately euthanized, and that many, if not most, can even be adopted out as loving family pets – and the book outlines how that was achieved.

This book is also extremely close to my heart because it focuses a lot on the dog Jasmine who is pictured on the book’s cover. Jasmine was Catalina Stirling’s dog, the woman who started Jasmine’s House, the rescue I write so much about on this blog.  It’s an absolutely amazing story.

The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell

This is a non-fiction book that I’m only part way through, OELand reading for the book club I mentioned yesterday. It focuses on our relationship with dogs, and how our behavior affects theirs.  McConnell breaks down canine behavior and psychology, writing about how to create the best relationship you can with your dog without using dominance or force-based techniques. I’m only about 30 pages in but have already gained a wealth of knowledge and know the rest of the book will continue to be just as educational.

You’re smart to read anything by Patricia McConnell.  She’s got books on separation anxiety, leash reactivity, bringing a new dog into a home (wish everyone with a dog was required to read this one!), and many more. You can see all her books on her website.

I’m a Good Dog by Ken Foster

pit_bulls_book_i_am_a_good_dogI haven’t read this book yet, but it’s definitely on my list because of how much my pit bull dog loving friends have raved about it.  I can see why by reading the reviews – all glowing – about how Foster shows pit bull dogs in their best light through stories and photos.  I feel like it’s a book I shouldn’t just download to my Kindle, but one I should get in hard copy to see the fabulous photos, so I’ll pick it up next time I’m by a book store.

Little Boy Blue by Kim Kavin

little-boy-blue-cover1This is another one I haven’t read all the way through yet. It’s the true story of a puppy adopted from a high-kill North Carolina shelter and Kavin, the dog’s owner, sets out on a mission to figure out why this seemingly perfect dog was so close to being euthanized.  Kavin’s journey touches on many harsh issues in today’s sheltering world, including extremely underfunded and overcrowded shelters, gas chambers, and the world of private rescue groups. I know it’s going to be a tough but very interesting read, and I’m looking forward to finishing it.

So that’s just a few titles on my list, and I know there are many more I need to read! What good dog books do you recommend? I will try to add them to my pile for 2013, and write about them in a later book review post!


(Yes that is little Zee enjoying a good book over a year ago.)

If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done. . .

A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions. A lot of people don’t. Some see New Years as a fresh start, and some see it as an annoyance that will make the gym more crowded for the first few weeks of January. I see it as a reason to take a moment to think about where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.

2012 was an interesting year for me. For the first time in my life I wasn’t transitioning to something new. I didn’t enter a new grade, I didn’t start a new job. I had a consistency that I wasn’t used to, but welcomed. Outside of my job, I heavily expanded my extracurriculars, mostly with activities having to do with dogs and documented through this blog.  I met a lot of really awesome people with the same intense passion for helping animals that I do, and surrounding myself with them helped me realize that together we’re each making a difference in our own way.  I feel like I grew up a lot because of the unique balance of consistency and new experiences that I found myself with in 2012.

I don’t like to set unreachable goals for myself in the form of New Year’s resolutions, so I steer clear of the drastic stuff (example: “I’m going to the gym every morning at 6 am in 2013” – talk about setting yourself up to fail).  Even though I shouldn’t need the changing of a date to make me do this, the New Year is as good an opportunity as any to take a solid look at what I can improve upon in my life.  Like one of my favorite quotes says, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”  If I don’t make the effort to step it up and make myself better when and where I can, then I’ll lose opportunities to grow as a person.

With that being said, here are four of my goals for 2013 to work towards always improving myself.  They’re pretty general, but if I look back at this time next year and have continued to do all four, I will be happy.

1.  Learn, learn, learn.  I’m soaking knowledge up like a sponge right now. I feel like I can’t get enough, and I love it.  I’m going to continue learning about dog training, photography, animal behavior, business and more.  I’m already signed up for a few more photography courses, dog behavior seminars and a business marketing class – and that’s just during January!

2.  Continue to foster as many dogs as I am able. Here is one where I want to be realistic for myself. I stuck “as many as I am able” in there instead of a specific number because I know how many different factors go into fostering dogs, and if I’m only able to take in two this year then I will still be happy. If my circumstances work out that I can help ten find new homes, that would be great too.  But I know I definitely want some temporary four legged fur babies back in my home at some point!

3.  Read more. In addition to reading for my first goal, I really want to tap into the massive amount of awesome fiction books that are out there about dogs. I’ve already started a few thanks to my wonderful boyfriend giving me a Kindle for Christmas, and I can’t wait to keep going.  I even joined a book club with Your Dog’s Friend that meets once a month to discuss dog books, both informational and fiction. I’m so excited!

4.  Stay positive. I know, can’t get more general than this. But 2012 showed me a lot about the benefits of positivity, both for rescue and my personal life.  Everyone knows that animal rescue can be a really crappy field to work in. You lose your faith in humanity and you lose animals you love. But staying positive helps to combat that, and in the end can actually really benefit the animals.  I’m going to continue to try to look for the good in every situation this coming year – and I think that will be easier than it seems.

So they’re sort of standard and obvious, but I like to make the reminders to myself anyway. What is anyone else doing for 2013? Any big resolutions? I’d love to hear! And, as usual, thanks for being with me for this kick ass past year. Can’t wait for 2013 with you!