It was recently announced that the newly published book from the late, great Dr. Seuss, What Pet Should I Get, is the inspiration for a social media campaign to support animals in need. As part of this campaign, pet owners are encouraged to tweet or Instagram photos of their pets with the hashtag #whatpet. For every photo that is shared with the campaign hashtag, Random House Children’s Books and Dr. Seuss Enterprises will donate $1 to the ASPCA, with a maximum of 15,000 photos shared.
To celebrate this special cause, I’ve put together a little list of books that feature real-life extraordinary animals.
Homer was blind and abandoned when Gwen Cooper, still reeling from a bad break-up, adopted him. Homer would prove to be an intrepid soul—warding off burglars and surviving alone in Cooper’s small NYC apartment in the days following 9/11. Ultimately, she finds herself a better person after welcoming this little daredevil into her life.
Sue Halpern could never have imagined the personal benefits that would come her way when she signed up for a therapy dog course with her beloved Labradoodle, Pransky. Pransky is a natural, bringing comfort to the residents of a Vermont nursing home, while fostering connections between the residents and her owner.
We cannot, being a library blog, talk about extraordinary animals without mentioning Dewey, the subject of Vicki Myron’s 2008 book. Dewey’s life began horrifically: he was discovered by Myron, the Director of the Spencer Public Library in Iowa, on a frigid morning. Dewey persevered, and for the next nineteen years he served as the library’s resident cat, providing comfort to patrons and drawing people into the library. Dewey’s special sixth sense for knowing who needed him the most made him famous beyond the small town of Spencer.
If the cover of Haatchi & Little B doesn’t melt your heart, I don’t know what will. Haatchi is a large, three-legged Anatolian puppy who had been abused and left to die. Little B is Owen Howkins (known to his family as “Little Buddy” or “Little B” for short), a small eight-year-old British boy suffering from a very rare genetic disorder that leaves him primarily confined to a wheelchair and often requiring oxygen to breath. Owen becomes isolated in school and withdrawn….until his father brings Haatchi home. The bond forged between them is immediate and electric.
Sy Montgomery has spent her writing career researching all manner of exotic and dangerous animals: vampire bats, gorillas, snakes, kangaroos, and more. The Good Good Pig is a more personal story. Here, Montgomery talks about life with Christopher Hogwood, a piglet she adopted as a runt and who grows into a robust 750 pound force of nature. Christopher Hogwood becomes the centerpiece of life for Montgomery and her husband. He also becomes a grounding force in Montgomery’s life, bringing together her rural New Hampshire community and helping to create a stable home for this former adventurer.
Good things come in small packages. This is certainly true when it comes to miniature schnauzer Atticus Maxwell Finch. Atticus’ owner, journalist Tom Ryan, is inspired to hike the 48 peaks of New Hampshire’s White Mountains after the death of a friend. That’s 48 peaks at 4,000 feet of elevation in the dead of winter. Oh, and he decides to do this hike twice within 90 days. All with little Atticus by his side. Both are suffering—Ryan with Lyme Disease and Atticus with cataracts and cancer—but their unbreakable spirits make this adventure one with a lot of heart.
For more stories about inspiring and extraordinary animals (and there are plenty!), head into the library and speak with a librarian. If you’re an LPL cardholder, you may want to consult the database Novelist, which is my go-to when researching read-alikes.
P.S. No, that’s not a professional dog model posing beside our book selections; it’s my dog, Mickey! He agreed to be paid in bacon and belly rubs. I am happy to report that he is not allowing his fifteen minutes of fame to go to his head (yet).