Posted on October 3, 2023 at 6:00 am
I love to read books which feature dogs who have their own voice in the story. I find it fascinating to think about what my dog may be pondering… or scheming. Does he have a running narration inside his head like I do? Sometimes, based on the look in his eyes, I think he must.
Here is a short list of books—some for kids and some for adults—that feature sweet, goofy, intelligent, and even salty-mouthed dogs. I hope you pick one up to read and that you enjoy these dogs as much as I do.
See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog, by David LaRochelle
For those who are still learning to read, give See the Cat a try. This is a silly, easy reader story about a dog who gets into disputes with the narrator over what is happening in the story. The author is clearly having fun toying with expectations. You can’t help but giggle over the humor! The repetition of words and short sentence structure also make it a great choice for those beginning to read. (For ages 4–8)
Home Is Where the Heart Is (Good Dog series, book #1), by Cam Higgins
This book is a good one for dog lovers who are emerging readers and are not yet ready for full chapter books. This is a lovely story about a rambunctious puppy named Bo. It is told from his point of view as he learns about his place on the farm. He even makes progress training his people with barks, licks, and nudges to rub his belly and go for walks! We follow the cheerful pup around the farm, meeting all kinds of different animals as he has adventures. Bo can’t help but put a smile on your face. (For ages 5–9)
Woof: A Bowser and Birdie Novel, by Spencer Quinn
For middle-grade dog lovers, there is Woof, set in the bayous of Louisiana. This is a fantastic girl and her dog mystery told from the perspective of Bowser the slobbery dog. Bowser has a great voice in the story, so charming that you can’t not like him. He misunderstands humans all the time, but you are never in doubt that he is crazy about his girl Birdie. His dog’s-eye-view makes for a very entertaining journey through the story! (For ages 8–12)
One reviewer shared that “readers of the adult series will swear that Bowser is Chet’s alter ego.” Check out the next book to meet Chet and his human.
Dog on It, by Spencer Quinn
Dog on It is narrated by Chet, a K-9 police school dropout with a charmingly hardboiled voice. Chet works with a private investigator and lends him his expertise. We see the world from Chet’s perspective—he “sees” everything with his nose. I never tired of hearing what Chet was thinking or not thinking. This light mystery/suspense novel is great for anyone looking for some humor as well! This title is the first installment of the Chet and Bernie Mystery series, so you can enjoy many more of their adventures. (For adults)
The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein
You may already know the novel The Art of Racing in the Rain, which was the Spokane Is Reading title in 2009 and made into a movie in 2019. This story is told by the intrepid Enzo, our canine narrator. It made me laugh, cry, and want to crawl into the book to snuggle Enzo. He has a great personality, and I appreciated that he is not just a tool to tell the story. His perspective on life and his obsession with opposable thumbs is really quite delightful. It really feels like you get a sneak peek into a dog’s thoughts. You may look at your dog differently after you read it! (For adults)
Watchers, by Dean Koontz
Another book with an astonishingly intelligent dog is Watchers, set in the late 1980s. Einstein, the wonder dog, understands English and works out a system to communicate with his human friends. He has a purity of spirit so infectious that he influences and changes everyone he meets, inspiring love and caring—which is quite an unusual character in what is technically a horror story. There is plenty of eeriness and suspense to keep you on your toes, but if you call a golden retriever your friend, this one will especially pull on your heartstrings. (For adults)
The Last Dog on Earth, by Adrian J. Walker
This novel has two narrators: the first is the foul-mouthed canine mongrel, Lineker, and the second is his agoraphobic human companion. As they make their way through dystopian, bombed-out London, Lineker sees this as an opportunity to prove himself and show how loyal he can be (with boundless energy). Lineker’s narration is full of expletives…. his language is quite vulgar! His narrative can also be very gross, which all dogs can be when we consider their habits. Do not be surprised when Lineker is poetic over morning breath and other fouler odors. This is a funny, disturbing, and engaging read. (For adults)
There are quite a few books out there with canine narrators. Which books would you recommend for other dog devotees? Share them with us!
Alison Johnson is an Education and Enrichment Librarian at Spokane County Library District and the community librarian for the Deer Park Library. She creates library programming and events for children ages 8–18. This means she gets to play with many things, including messy paints and mini robots. When she has free time, Alison enjoys hiking trails with her dog, paddle boarding (on very calm waters), and reading while enjoying a cup of tea.