May 20th is the day we recognize rescue dogs: their stories, their plight, their capacity for love, and the many ways they’ve enhanced our lives. National Rescue Dog Day was created to raise awareness of ALL rescue dogs, whether they are from shelters, rescue groups, puppy mills, or hoarding situations. Hearing their stories and seeing these dogs transform from abused, neglected, or abandoned animals into beloved companions is inspiring. People who rescue dogs often comment that they were the ones who were rescued. I know I felt that way when a border collie mix, surrendered for euthanasia by an abusive owner who neglected her care, came into my life. This dog hid under an end table in my home for three months until she realized no one was going to hit her and that she was here to stay. She learned to walk on a leash, though she rarely left my side. She saved my life more than once, and was there for the birth of my first child, before passing away at 16 years of age from canine dementia. I still miss Shadow and will be celebrating her life today.
And if you are looking for an amazing read for yourself, or for someone you know whose life has been touched by a rescue dog, here are just a few to choose from:
“Mutual Rescue,” by Carol Novello was just published last month and is a compelling, touching, and thought-provoking collection of stories about the human-rescue animal bond, with emphasis on the science behind the healing power of animals.
“Deaf Dogs: 78 Amazing Dogs Proving the World Wrong,” by Melissa McDaniel is a beautiful coffee table book celebrating dogs with a disability. Every year, thousands of dogs are put to death simply because they are deaf. The stories that accompany the photos will help anyone to better understand that living with a deaf dog is not only possible, but rewarding. A portion of the proceeds from the purchase of this book goes to rescues and shelters.
“Miracle Dogs: Rescue Stories,” by Liz Stavrinides is a hardcover collection of stories highlighting people and organizations involved in dog rescue. The author is a photographer, so the pictures will grab you first, but the stories will keep you reading one right after the other.
If you loved “Marley & Me” and you’re looking for your next tug-at-the-heartstrings, overcoming obstacles read, look no further than Jim Gorant’s, “Wallace: The Underdog who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls, One Flying Disc at a Time.”
Susannah Charleson’s, “The Possibility Dogs: What I Learned from Second-Chance Rescues about Service, Hope, and Healing” is part memoir and part edge-of-your-seat storytelling as the author describes discarded and abandoned dogs whose lives change when they are given the opportunity to help a human in need.
“Finding Home,” by photographer Traer Scott, is her second collection of photos featuring shelter dogs with special needs. You will meet several dogs whose spirits could not be broken and who find happiness and new beginnings the second time around.
Peter Zheutlin’s book is a moving account of one man’s journey to save thousands of dogs slated for death in the Southern United States, as he makes the trek back and forth with the help of countless animal-loving volunteers along the way. Greg Mahle is the rescuer, and “Rescue Road” is his story.
“Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home,” is the amazing true story of the dog Mikael Lindnord befriended in South America while captaining a Swedish adventure racing team. What began as simply sharing food with a stray dog becomes a tribute to a dog who endured an epic journey to share his life with Lindnord.
“Dogs and the Women Who Love Them,” by Allen and Linda Anderson, is a collection of stories about rescue dogs and their female companions working in prisons, search and rescue, as service dogs to veterans, and more. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book goes to animal welfare organizations.
Kim Kavin’s book, “The Dog Merchants,” is an incredibly provocative read. Without taking sides, she explores all of the different means by which people acquire the dogs in their lives and how each of those is essentially a business, with an eye to profit margins, and with the lives of dogs as the commodity being traded. This book is worth reading with your dog-loving friends and discussing.
And finally, for rescue-dog loving kids, there is Maribeth Boelts’ award-winning, sweetly illustrated picture book, “Before You Were Mine.” This is the story of a little boy imagining all of the possible different lives his new dog might have had before his family adopted the dog from the shelter. The conclusion is that it doesn’t matter; they now have each other to love and that’s what matters the most.
Share your rescue dog stories and pictures using #NationalRescueDogDay!