Animal Lovers’ Favourite Books of 2019

Animal lovers and blog readers share their favourite animal book that they read in 2019.

Animal lovers favourite books 2019
Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

By Zazie Todd, PhD

I asked Companion Animal Psychology readers and other animal lovers to tell me about the book about animals they most loved in 2019. The book did not have to be published this year, just that they read it during this year. Here are their picks! You can find these books (and other reading recommendations) in my Amazon store: https://www.amazon.com/shop/animalbookclub.

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Bonnie Hartney, Ocean Park Dog Training
A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans

“What makes this book so intriguing is the uncharacteristic behaviour of a black wolf in Juno, Alaska.  Drawn out of the wild expanse, Romeo becomes a local celebrity with his reported love of playing with pet dogs and lack of concern for people.

It is a story of ethical questions and conflict.  Is it right to befriend a wild animal? At what point does safety of community and small animals take precedence over the life of a wolf? How can a citizens smooth opposing view to live in harmony?

This story tickles my imagination with questions about an earlier time.  If it could happen in our modern world, might a similar scenario have played out during the evolution of domestic dog?  As some have suggested were wolves, possibly like Romeo who behaved atypically and ventured into human encampments, really the beginning of the dogs we see today?”



Kristi Benson, Kristi Benson Dog Training
Tyrannosaur Chronicles (Bloomsbury Sigma) by David Hone.

“If predators, evolution, and dinosaurs are your jam, this book will scratch every itch. And if taxonomy has ever felt boring, well, that's about to change. This book, the title of which will make you immediately the coolest cat on any subway or bus, is filled with everything you'd want to learn about tyrants. When they lived, what they did, what their worlds were like, and how we know about them. You'll also gain a much deeper understanding about the various scientific disciplines that have added to our knowledge about dinosaurs in general and tyrannosaurs in particular. In reasonably plain language (you will have to learn some new words and concepts unless you happen to be a dino biologist, I’d assume), Hone--who is a Lecturer in Zoology at Queen Mary University--introduces dinosaurs in general and gives a sketch of the evolutionary and environmental conditions that supported the appearance of tyrants. He describes what these dinos were like, both hard parts and “squishy bits” (which is one of the sub-headings he uses, and which gives you a good idea of the tone, I think). Hone also describes tyrant feeding behaviour and how they made babies, who their competitors were, and other topics ecological. Aside from being just a fascinating read, the book will give you an endless supply of factoids to pull up with your dino-keen nieces and nephews (think dinos are cold-blooded? Sit down, little one, life is a bit more complex than that). The main drawback to this book is the biological terminology, which can make some paragraphs a bit of a slog...but open your dictionary app and take the leap. You won’t regret it.”



Mandy Hull
Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

"I taught children with autism, and it is amazing how some of them are able to empathize so well with animals. Some do not, of course and can be quite harmful to pets, but for the most part, Grandin's theory is spot-on. We don't see the world the way people with autism do, and every book I've read about animal psychology has parts that can be applied to people all along the autism spectrum. It's one of the best books I've ever read."



Richard Cross, The Dog Clinic
Clever Dog: Understand What Your Dog is Telling You by Sarah Whitehead

"I read a lot of dog-related dogs, but Clever Dog is one of the best introductions to canine behaviour I've come across. I also think it's a book that all dog owners should read, as it clears up many old-school myths around dog training and encourages us to think from the dog's point of view. By understanding why a dog barks, chews, whines or growls, it's much easier to solve the problem using positive and kind methods."




Matt Leighton, Vivo Fish
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

"The book is absolutely hilarious if you're into what I'll call British Humor. It's a ridiculous battle between good and evil, with each side having an operative trying to stop the apocalypse from happening (because they've grown fond of their earthly lifestyle).

Anyway, there's a pivotal moment in the book where Hell is supposed to be sending their fiercest hellhound to help guide the dark side to victory. All that remains is for the leader of evil to name him, and he will come into his full power.

The leader in this case, is a young boy who's always wanted a dog, and says that if he ever got to have one, he'd name it, simply, Dog.

The hellhound turns from a gigantic monster dog into a small and playful little thing upon being named something so silly and cute, which throws a twist into the whole upcoming apocalypse since, well, the evil leader doesn't seem so evil after all...especially not with a cute small dog at his side!"



Cristine Ciana Calabrese, author of What About the Dog? Everything You Need to Know About My Dog’s Care (In Case I’m Not Around to Ask!)
How to Speak Dog by Stanley Coren

"I discovered this book 15 years ago when I started working with dogs as a doggy daycare operator and still reference it today as a pet sitter/ dog walker and dog rescuer!"



Sara Ochoa DVM, doglab.com
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

"One of the best books I have read about a dog is The Art of Racing in the Rain. They are also coming out with a movie based on this book soon. This is my husband's favorite book, and he got me to read it earlier this year. The book reminds me of our dog that we recently lost to heart disease. The way it is written is from the eyes of the dog, and it really showed the personality of the dog. His personality was very similar to the dog we used to have."



Andie Abkarian
Making Dogs Happy by Melissa Starling and Paul McGreevy

"This book is fantastic. A mix of practical, creative and scientific analysis and presentation of what our dogs "want" and what motivates them. It's friendly enough for a non-dog-book person to thoroughly enjoy, and read in bits and bites, and for the reads-every-dog-book person to see something in a surprisingly fresh way, that makes perfect sense. I'm a read-them-all person and this one is always on the lower shelf of my coffee table. I'm attaching a link to a review. One of my ahas was page 64, in the discussion about safety, which is noted as a dog's most vital resource "... if you suspect an axe murderer is roaming the neighborhood and might even be the person coming toward you, how motivated might you be to 'sit down?"



Yvette Berke
P-22 The Journey by Sherry Mangel-Ferber, Calandra Cherry, and Kathi Colman

"The dilemma of Southern California mountain lions is how to have enough diversity and space to continue to survive. P22 is the 22nd Puma in the National Wildlife Federation study.  He resided in the Santa Monica Mountains and could not survive in the territory of another male mountain lion. No one knows how he made his decision but he set out to cross two major Los Angeles freeways to find food, a mate, and a home.  The story of his travels is written in P-22 The Journey and is meant to be a story for all ages that echoes the need for coexistence and strength to survive.  The two authors and Illustrator of the book contribute all profits of the book to the #savelacougars organization to support the construction of the state's largest and most important wildlife Crossing." More information on the mountain lions is at https://savelacougars.org/



Have you read a great book about animals this year? Let me know in the comments!

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Zazie Todd, PhD, is the author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. She is the founder of the popular blog Companion Animal Psychology, where she writes about everything from training methods to the human-canine relationship. She also writes a column for Psychology Today and has received the prestigious Captain Haggerty Award for Best Training Article in 2017. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two cats.

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Comments

  1. Running with Sherman by Christopher McDougall is the best animal book I've read in a long time.

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