2018: The Year of the Dog

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Out with the Rooster, in with the Dog

Tomorrow marks the start of a new year in the Chinese calendar. In 2018, we will switch from the Year of the Rooster to the Year of the Dog. Much like the western zodiac’s twelve signs, each of the Chinese zodiac animals are given specific traits. Those born in the Year of the dog, for example, are associated with the element of earth and yang energy. They are loyal and honest, friendly and responsible, and usually quite smart. On the flip side, they are also critical and self-righteous.

I’m sure that many of you will agree that dogs can be all these things and more. They aren’t known as man’s best friend for nothing, after all. Technology is not yet at the point where I can send you real live puppies through your computer screen, so let’s instead celebrate the Year of the Dog with the next best thing: a roundup of books about dogs!

Smart Dogs in Adult Fiction

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus: Did you ever notice that, once you stop reading picture books, the dogs usually stop talking? Steven Rowley apparently didn’t like this, and created Lily. She is a sweet, aging dachshund who regularly has conversations with her owner, who has only just noticed that his beloved pet has an octopus on her head. My recommendation? Don’t go into this one without a box or two of tissues.


Sirius by Jonathan Crown

Sirius by Jonathan Crown: In an alternate universe, one small dog witnessed—and influenced—history. Sirius, a fox terrier, sees the rise of Nazism in Germany, meets famous actors in Hollywood, and joins a circus to show off his talents. He even meets the Führer after a mix-up takes him to the last place he wants to be: home. This dog’s madcap adventure will have readers begging for more.



Sweet Dogs in Children’s Fiction

Banjo and Ruby Red by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood

Banjo and Ruby Red: This funny, touching story follows a dog and his enemy-turned-unlikely friend, a sassy chicken. Though the two rarely see eye-to-eye, something unexpected brings them together. By the end, Banjo and Ruby Red learn that friendship can come from the unlikeliest of places.



Patch's Grand Dog Show by Sally Muir & Joanna Osborne

Patch’s Grand Dog Show: An adorable knit dog stars in this story of a lonely pup who isn’t good at much. When the dog show is in town, however, he decides to enter. The competition is fierce, and Patch finds himself up against dogs that can juggle, sing, and more—but in the end, the results surprise even him! There are also directions in the back for crafty readers to make your own little knitted dog.



Lovable Dogs in Comics & Graphic Novels


Off the Leash: A Dog's Best Friend by Rupert Fawcett

Off the Leash: It's a Dog's Life by Rupert Fawcett

Off the Leash: A Dog’s Best Friend & Off the Leash: It’s a Dog’s Life: This amusing series of comic strips by Rupert Fawcett follow the everyday lives of the average dog. These strips perfectly capture the hilarious aspects of pet ownership. They also take a humorous look at what I can only imagine is really going on inside these funny pets’ heads.


Stargazing Dog: The dog in this story, translated from the Japanese and told by a well-known manga artist, is the epitome of loyalty. His owner is abandoned by his friends and his family, but his loving, faithful pet never leaves his side. This heartwarming tale follows master and pet as they embark on a road trip into the unknown, searching for a better life.




Loyal Dogs in Real Life

Starting with Max by Ying Ying

Starting With Max: When Ying Ying’s family moved from China to Australia, she found her new life filled with frustration and sorrow alongside joy and excitement. Only one thing remained constant, and that was her family’s newly-adopted dog, Max. He acted as the driving force she needed to adapt to her new home. Max quickly became her source of strength, and Ying Ying found she could do more that just survive in this foreign land: with Max’s help, she could thrive.


A Dog Called Dez by John Tovey, with Veronica Clark

A Dog Called Dez: John was finally getting his life together after years of being on the wrong side of the law. He had just turned a corner, testifying against a vicious gang, when suddenly everything changed. He went blind overnight, and lost more than just his vision: he was soon without a job or a home. Only when a guide dog, Dez, came into the picture did John find his life once more worth living.



Adorable Dogs in Photographs

Dogs in Snow


Dogs in Snow: If there’s one thing a dog cannot do, it’s hide their happiness. The pups in this collection love digging, running around, catching snowballs, and doing everything possible to enjoy the weather. These fun-loving cuties will warm up even the most frozen of hearts.




Posh Dogs: This collection of dog photos, Posh Dogstaken from the archives of Country Life magazine, features canines across breeds and type—from working dogs to pampered pets, champion pedigrees to mixed breeds, and everything in between. There are famous dogs, such as those found in the Prince of Wales’ kennels, and those seen on Downton Abbey, as well as dogs who, while not famous, are still stars to their owners.



Happy (early) New Year, readers! Which of your favorite dog books are you going to dig into to celebrate the new year?

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