Four Pet Book Authors You Need to Know: Non-fiction

In a former life, before my days as a pet sitter, I ran bookstores (for 20 years), and then a publishing house. I wrote eight books. I wrote for magazines and reviewed books. I’m mostly done with all of that now, but the writing and reading stuff seems to be in my blood. It is one of the reasons I’m enjoying blogging. Every once in a while I can’t resist telling you about some of my favorite authors. Here are my top four non-fiction authors , which is not to say that there aren’t lots of other great ones. These are just my favorites.

Jon Katz

I first discovered Katz when I was researching for one of my own books. His book, The New Work of Dogs, came across my path, and I was instantly captivated. His exploration of the things we ask our dogs to do, the work we often assign dogs today, and the ethical questions that come with that, was brilliant. I have read many, but not all of his books, and Katz is a multifaceted writer. In one book he’ll explore ethics, and in another he is mourning the death of one of his dogs and talking about how we live when our dogs die. He is the guy who struggles with an intractable border collie who seems beyond any trainer’s abilities, and in another he works with one of his dogs visiting and listening to hospice patients. A consummate storyteller, a deep thinker, lovely writer. He has a new book coming out in a few days; it is already pre-ordered on my Kindle.

Izzy and Lonore

Patricia McConnell

If McConnell ever speaks at an event in your area, go. She is as entertaining in person as she is in her books, but this lady knows dogs inside and out. She has credentials out the ear: a Ph.D in animal ethology, and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, she has also taught at the University of Wisconsin- Madison…I could go on, but no need. McConnell studies animal behavior, and specifically dogs, and she lives with them as well, bringing not only academic background to her work but real life experience. She has worked with probably hundreds of people who have dogs with behavior problems. Like Katz, she is an entertaining writer. She uses stories to great effect, illustrating her points, and she’s not above being laugh-out-loud funny. (So not like some academics I know!) I’ve read her book The Other End of the Leash several times, and learned more each time. She’s written lots of small and very helpful books, as well as longer works. Her newest one, Love Has No Age Limit, on bringing an adult rescue into your home, is the help that so many people have been waiting for.

Other end of the leash

Pamela Johnson-Bennett

My all-time favorite cat lady. She used to work for a vet, and she did actual pet sitting, so what’s not to love? Like McConnell and Katz, she has a sense of humor and uses stories beautifully.  She knows what makes cats tick, though one of her book titles (Think Like A Cat) kinda scares me. Not sure I want to think like a cat sometimes, but she knows how it’s done, and communicates it beautifully.  Her book Starting from Scratch is the bible for people who have cats with behavioral problems, and Cat vs. Cat is the same for people with multi-cat households. As a pet sitter I turn to her work all the time for reminders and clues about dealing with problem felines, and even some of my own some days.

Think like a cat

Nick Trout

I was probably destined to love Trout’s books because I’m something of a vet groupie. I worked for one for a while, and I’m fascinated by how bodies do and don’t work, and what we can do to help. Trout, a veterinary surgeon at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, tells the stories of his patients in his first two books, Love is the Best Medicine, and Tell Me Where it Hurts, and I couldn’t put either book down. (In case you haven’t seen this as a thread here, I’m hooked on stories!) Like the rest of my favorites, he has a quirky and funny sense of humor, and brings the challenges of veterinary care alive in a totally non-technical, and very thoughtful way. Prepare to shed a few tears and laugh a little. By the time you’re done either of these books, you’ll feel like Trout is your best friend.

Love is the best medicine

So there you have it – my favorites. I’d love to hear who your favorites are.  And, depending on whether anyone cares about it or not, perhaps I can be coaxed into sharing my favorite animal fiction writers one of these days.

4 thoughts on “Four Pet Book Authors You Need to Know: Non-fiction

  1. I will have to think about that. I have pretty much stopped reading stories about dogs because they seldom have happy endings. I can only deal with a certain amount of heartache.

  2. I just love Johnson-Bennett. I have read several of her books. I also loved the Cleveland Amory books and who wouldn’t love Marley and Me. I read that on an airplane and was laughing so much the guy next to me asked what I was reading. Like Susan P I am particular about animal stories because some are just too sad and haunt me for days. I didn’t feel like that with Marley. Yep, he dies but he had such a great life.

    1. Great suggestions, Kate! In one of Jon Katz’s books he actually starts by telling readers that no dog dies in this particular book. Always good to know!

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