Warning: These books will make you want to adopt a dog. Or another. Maybe even several. The pooches featured in the five books here do everything from joy riding to going for a swim (or at least a dog paddle).
OUT FOR A SWIM
So, you’ve memorized the images in Seth Casteel’s Underwater Dogs (2012) and long for more? Never fear, Underwater Puppies is here! It’s worth the wait: These delightfully damp puppies are even sweeter than those that came before, not least because most of the pups are so very tiny (or: automatically cute). Casteel is a master at capturing the looks on their faces, and the effect is irresistible, whether the subject is Sugar (a boxer who serenely floats among the bubbles) or Bentley (a French bulldog whose expression says, what is going ON here?). The dogs pictured hail from shelters and rescue groups and serve as a reminder that, as Casteel writes, “adoption is a fantastic option when considering bringing a puppy into your life.” And how.
Do you know someone who needs a chill pill? Here’s one in book form: Lessons in Balance: A Dog’s Reflections on Life by 9-year-old Scout, the pit bull star of the Tumblr blog “Stuff on Scout’s Head.” And that’s exactly what you get in this book—photo after photo of Scout calmly balancing all sorts of items on his head, with sayings like “Acknowledge your feelings” and “Look beyond appearances.” Turning the pages is a surprisingly hypnotic experience. After a while, the objects fade, and the consistency of Scout’s mellow gaze prompts a feeling of tranquility. The images can be a hoot, for sure: The bunch of asparagus on Scout’s head is funny, the soap-bubble is impressive and the hourglass is poignant. But the humorous images don’t belie the message. As object-placer and owner Jennifer Gillen writes, “From [Scout] I’ve learned to be present and mindful, focus on the task at hand, and complete it.”
DINING A DEUX
If you live alone, it can seem easier to favor quick-and-easy meals. But there’s another way! Judith Jones offers time-tested strategies for feeding yourself and your canine companion in Love Me, Feed Me: Sharing with Your Dog the -Everyday Good Food You Cook and Enjoy. An esteemed editor at Knopf for 50-plus years who edited the likes of Julia Child and Jacques Pépin, Jones has also written cookbooks herself. She now raises grass-fed cattle on her farm in Vermont, with her dog, Mabon, by her side. He’s her kitchen compatriot, as well, which is eminently sensible of him, since Jones is a longtime champion of cooking for pets. She began in 1933 at age 9, when cans of wet food and bags of kibble were not available. “I liked sharing some of what we were eating with a creature I treasured. It was my way of caring for her,” she writes. In Love Me, Feed Me, she offers 50-plus recipes for meats, pasta and more, along with plenty of photos and stories. Clever tips abound, like this one: Why struggle to scrape a pot clean when you’ve got an eager dog who’s happy to help with the task?
HIT THE ROAD, FIDO
Ah, hitting the road—the time-honored tradition that celebrates freedom, possibility and the delights of windblown hair. In Dogs in Cars, photographer Lara Jo Regan, best known as the guardian of the beloved Mr. Winkle, captures “the pure joy of a dog in its most heightened state” via a gorgeously photographed collection of dogs with eyes alight, tongues flapping, fur ruffled by the breeze. The pooches look thrilled (and beautiful—Regan knows her lighting), and will inspire an urge to hug any nearby pets. All of the images were taken in California and showcase the state’s natural beauty: palm trees, mountains, beaches, glorious skies. Cars range from a 1979 Cadillac Eldorado to a 2014 Toyota Prius (there’s a golf cart, too), and indexes at the back identify the various cars and dog breeds. Dogs in Cars is a fun gift for dog lovers, road-trippers, car aficionados and anyone who wants to gaze upon joy, page after page.
Brittni Vega’s Harlow & Sage (and Indiana): A True Story About Best Friends is a sweet and funny story told from Harlow the Weimaraner’s perspective. (Thankfully, Harlow doesn’t use the mangled English favored by some Internet sensations—she would never spell cheese with a “z”!) The book began as an Instagram account in 2013, with wonderful photos of the adventures of Harlow and her older sister Sage. Alas, Sage died a few months later. In an effort to assuage everyone’s sadness, Vega and her husband brought home Indiana, a Dac-hshund puppy. Following along as the dogs and their humans move from fresh grief to fond memories, from begrudging acceptance to true sisterhood, is a lovely experience. There’s lots of dog-centric hilarity, too, which makes Harlow & Sage a great choice for reading to or with kids.