While the last year had significantly more downs than ups for most people, there was one thing that changed in my life for the better, and even made 2016 worth it: I got a dog, and now, she is the love of my life. Since becoming a puppy mom, I've become obsessed with all things canine-related, from "I'd Rather Be Home With My Dog" swag to heartwarming books for dog-lovers.
You've probably heard people say getting a dog is a lot like having a kid, and I'm here to tell you, they aren't totally wrong. When you get a new puppy, you spend all your time talking about them, your social media feed is filled with pictures of them, and you use them as an excuse to spend most Friday nights at home. Your entire life revolves around one slobbering, shedding, snoring fur ball, and you aren't at all upset about it. Because when you're a dog owner, nothing matters more than your pet.
Break out the Kleenex and pull your fluffy best friend on the couch next to you, because you're going to need tissues and snuggles to make it through these 11 beautiful books for dog-lovers. Trust me, every tear is worth it.
1 'Darling, I Love You: Poems from the Hearts of Our Glorious Mutts and All Our Animal Friends' by Daniel Ladinsky
Prepare for your heart to melt as you read Darling, I Love You, a touching and poetic tribute to the furry friends in our lives. A collaboration between internationally acclaimed poet Daniel Ladinsky and beloved comic strip creator Patrick McDonnell, this illustrated collection is a must-have for anyone who considers their dog (or any animal) a best friend.
2 'Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog' by John Grogan
If you saw the movie, you know what you're in for with this one: a touching story of love and companionship peppered with hilarious anecdotes about a badly behaved dog. Moving and unforgettable, Marley and Me will require twice the normal amount of tissues to get through.
3 'The Art of Racing in the Rain' by Garth Stein
We're only on the third book of this list, and I'm already blubbering as I type. In Garth Steins heartbreaking fictional dog memoir, Enzo, a hilarious, witty, and insightful Labrador retriever, tells his life story through reflections on the eve of his death. A story about life, love, dreams, and heartache, The Art of Racing in the Rain will pull at the heartstrings of every pet owner.
4 'A Big Little Life' by Dean Koontz
In his memoir of a "joyful dog," suspense novelist Dean Koontz leave mystery and murder behind in favor of a sweeter story, that of the golden retriever who changed is life. A Big Little Life recounts the life of Koontz' adopted dog, Trixie, a retired service dog. Touching and heartfelt, A Big Little Life is a love letter to a pet that every dog owner can relate to.
5 'Jonathan Unleashed' by Meg Rosoff
Finding happiness in the Big Apple isn't as easy as it seems, but with the help of two dogs, Jonathan Unleashed proves it isn't impossible. In this sweet novel by National Book Award finalist Meg Rosoff, a young man is floundering in just about every way: his boss is insane, his girlfriend is going to leave him for someone richer, and his living situation is questionable at best. But when his brother asks him to dog sit, everything in Jonathan's life begins to change as he realizes that maybe the answer to the universe is in his new found furry friends.
6 'The Dog Who Saved Me' by Susan Wilson
People always talk about rescuing animals, but more often than not, it's our animals that rescue us. In The Dog Who Saved Me, officer Cooper Harrison returns to his hometown after the death of his canine partner to deal with his impending divorce and his joblessness. Distracted by heartache and consumed with family drama, Cooper thinks his life has hit rock bottom and nothing can turn it around — that is, until he meets a wounded lab and tries to rescue the poor animal. As you can guess, in the end, it's the dog who does most of the saving in this tear-jerker of a story.
7 'Lily and the Octopus' by Steven Rowley
Called a "profound experience" by The Washington Post, Steven Rowley's dog story, Lily and Octopus was the talk of dog parks everywhere this summer, and with good reason. A magical novel about love and companionship, this canine story is one you'll want to savor with your own dog BFF by your side.
8 'Travels with Charley in Search of America' by John Steinbeck
In his classic travel memoir, John Steinbeck made two things abundantly clear: America is a big and wonderful place, and dogs are the best companions to explore it with. In Travels with Charley, the author goes coast-to-coast with his poodle by his side, and with each passing state and each turned page, Charley the dog worms his way further and further into the readers heart. Sweet and unique, this story of best friends might inspire you and your pooch to hit the road for an adventure of your own.
9 'Just Life' by Neil Abramson
What happens when you combine an animal sanctuary, a dedicated veterinarian, and a deadly virus that is transmitted by animals? A unique and thrilling story about the lengths people will go to to protect the helpless dogs in their life. Make sure you have tissues and your puppy protector near by for this one.
10 'A Dog's Purpose: A Novel for Humans' by W. Bruce Cameron
Just thinking about this book (and soon-to-be-movie starring Josh Gad) brings me to tears — how can I read or watch a dog die over and over again? — but the concept works as a heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting experience. A Dog's Purpose, one canine finds the meaning through the many different lives he leads and reminds us all that we're here for a reason, even if that reason is just to be loved.
11 'Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved My Life' by Julie Barton
Our pets have saved us all in the metaphorical way, but in author Julie Barton's case, her dog literally saved her life. Dog Medicine tells the story of how one dog had the power to help Barton survive her own depression, and teaches us all that the power of love and companionship knows no bounds.