Pup Culture: Fridge-Toppers

5 Good Dog Books We Can't Even Give Away!

Books arrive here at our New York offices by the bushel, sent by publishers in hopes of an AKC Family Dog review or a plug in our social media. For every book we review there are dozens more that, for reasons not always connected to their quality, don't make the cut.

The "reject pile" is stacked atop the refrigerator in the staff kitchen, with the open invitation for our fellow employees to help themselves. Some are snapped up quickly. Others languish for months. Many go unread on merit: They're lousy books. Always, though, there are some diamonds in the dung heap.

Here are five good dog books sitting neglected in the kitchen right now, awaiting rescue from fridge-top oblivion.

The Second Chance Dog: A Love Story, by Jon Katz

Katz has written several fine books about his life in dogs. This memoir recounts how, at a low point in his life, Katz got his mojo back after meeting his soul mate (and now wife) Maria. Their obstacle to romance is Maria's dog, Frieda, an abused Rottie-mix rescue who’s a sweetheart with her mistress but a snarling beast with everyone else. Can Jon and Maria recondition Frieda and smooth the path to a happily-ever-after? Second Chance Dog is a worthy entry in the ongoing story of dogs and Katz.

Mimi and Maty to the Rescue: Roger the Rat Is on the Loose! by Brooke Smith; illustrated by Alli Arnold

A mystery about a girl sleuth and her three-legged dog on the trail of an escaped pet rat, this is a sweet little charmer of a kiddie book. The story is cute, the childlike illustrations make me smile, and I love how Maty’s missing leg is no big deal to dog or owner. A nice life lesson imparted without beating young readers over the head with it.

The Perfect Dog, by Dr. Roger Mugford

This is a behavior-and-training manual from Britain's leading animal psychologist. You might not always buy in to Mugford’s sometimes-controversial opinions, but The Perfect Dog is well worth a look for its commonsense approach to behavior problems and for its delightfully British prose style. It's also among the most beautifully designed dog books we’ve ever received, with loads of lovely photos in handsome layouts.

An Echo Through the Snow, by Andrea Thalasinos

Thalasinos's ambitious debut novel is more elegant than its clunky title suggests. In one story thread, set in 1990s Wisconsin, a forlorn young woman and her Siberian Husky find redemption in competitive sled racing. In the counterplot, a Chukchi girl in 1920s Siberia faces threats from outside forces to the traditional ways of her people. Telling how the two plotlines dovetail would be a major spoiler, so I’ll just say this is a haunting novel from a new author who bears watching.

Fleece Dog, by Sinco (Nobuko Nagakubo)

"Fleece dog" is the author's name for palm-sized dogs she makes with raw wool, real dog hair, and a felting needle. This oddly attractive volume features photos of these weird little masterpieces depicting 17 breeds. It’s also a how-to book that teaches you how to make your own fleecy fidos. Recommended for dog-loving crafters, but even impatient klutzes like me will enjoy the pictures.

For those who have limited access to the AKC staff refrigerator, these books are available at amazon.com.