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Dog Lovers Book Club - April 2017

As we prepare to commemorate ANZAC Day later this month and remember the Australians who served in war, we dedicate the April Book Club to them and all the furry dog heroes past and present: from the detection and military dogs that saved countless lives during conflicts and the mascots that brought comfort to others, to the service and therapy dogs that today transform the lives of so many. 
"Lest we forget ... Our four legged diggers served too".

by Anthony Hill

This collection of short true stories is a celebration of the forgotten heroes of war, the animals that have served alongside Australian forces. 

In Darwin in 1942, Gunner’s barking alerted an entire army base of impending air raids, well before the enemy planes appeared on radar. Following an ambush, Sarbi the explosive detection dog was held captive by the Taliban for over a year, before heading home a hero. And when 135,000 horses left Australia for the First World War, why was General Bridges’ charger Sandy the only one to return home?

Drawing from first-hand sources and interviews with those who were there, Anthony Hill brings to life the loyalty and courage of these animals, and the love their soldiers felt for them.

From the donkeys that carried the wounded at Gallipoli to the dolphins that hunted underwater mines in Iraq, these animal heroes are at the heart of some of the most remarkable stories in Australia’s military history.

This fully revised and updated edition features inspiring true stories of heroism and sacrifice, many of them never told before. A  fantastic read to discover those unsung heroes!

Paperback, 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia, 3rd April 2017

RRP: $32.99 from

by Steve Kelleher

Last Dog on the Island is a memoir, tracing the author's return to handling dogs for Customs after a 10-year hiatus.

The Customs Dog unit in Tasmania held the unusual position of being the only dog detection team and was called into action for drug detection raids for all the Federal and State Law Enforcement agencies on the island. The memoir develops as he finds his niche in Tasmania, suited to his independence, life experiences and interpersonal management skills. 

As a true crime story, the author reveals how he experienced the island state of Tasmania through the filter of policing, encountering many instances of human conflict and criminality but with the viewpoint of an outsider. Tasmania itself is a character, revealed through its obscure histories, contradictions and irreverence. We particularly enjoyed the insights into the training of a front line customs dog detection team and the author's personal comments on inter-agency collaboration!

Paperback , 240 pages
Publisher: New Holland Publishers, 2nd March 2017

RRP: $29.99 at

My Life with a Very Large Dog
by Lauren Fern Watt

We have a thing for large dogs ourselves and just loved this book! This is the true story of Lauren who takes her terminally ill English Mastiff Gizelle on an amazing life-changing bucket list adventure. 

Gizelle has meant everything to Lauren - through her difficult growing up years, when she left Tennessee to move to New York in search of a serious job and a flat large enough to fit her enormous, pavement-hogging, snuffly best friend. The dog that was non-negotiable in her life and relationships. 

When 25-year-old Lauren learns that her dog Gizelle is going to die from the tumour in her leg, she resolves to spend their last months together on a never-to-be-forgotten bucket list adventure. 

They will eat the finest steak, play in the ocean, ride a canoe, stop for ice cream, take naps during the day, and just spend time cuddling. They will make it the best time of their lives. Their last months together teach Lauren the importance of living in the present, being able to face your fears as well as follow your heart. She realises that the best lessons she could ever need for her life ahead, she learnt those from her dog... 

This very moving book will appeal to anyone who's shared a close bond with their dog.

Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, 7th March 2017 

RRP: $32.99 from

by Jennifer Arnold

From the New York Times bestselling author of Through a Dog’s Eyes this book heralds a paradigm-shifting approach to living with and loving our dogs.

There are few people who understand dogs better than Jennifer Arnold. Twenty-five years after she founded Canine Assistants, a non-profit that raises and provides service dogs for people with disabilities, Arnold had an epiphany. 

She’d always approached the education of dogs with kindness and compassion and understood dogs to be uniquely, uncannily attuned to their human companions. But it wasn’t until recent scientific findings confirmed her hands-on experience with dogs’ intuitive social skills that she was willing to put this bold idea to the test. 

Dogs who bond with us completely and unconditionally will seek to please us and, with minimal cues, can learn to make remarkably sophisticated decisions about their own behaviour. Sure, dogs can be taught commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “heel,” but even the kindest reward and punishment models were merely manipulating dogs’ behavior, rather than unleashing their unique social genius and innate ability to navigate the world.

In this groundbreaking, persuasive, and heartfelt book, Arnold shows us how every dog can thrive through Bond-Based Choice Teaching. Her proprietary method has been hailed by leading canine behavioural scientists and is being adopted by notable dog trainers and animal advocates. For this liberating, revolutionary method to succeed, Arnold says, love really is all you need.

Paperback, 208 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau, 23rd August 2016

RRP: $35.18
 from (free delivery)

Book Club Kids' Corner

by Stephen Dando-Collins

When Sergeant Ben Fulton's family joins him on a cruise ship holiday, Ben, Josh, Maddie and Nan travel in luxury among the islands of the Caribbean while Caesar is in quarantine. 

But a gang who have broken out of a Cuban prison have other ideas. They hijack the massive ship and hold its three thousand passengers to ransom. With passengers of all nationalities in danger, only the United Nations can step in to help. Ben's best friend, Charlie, and the rest of the GRRR team assemble. Charlie will need super-sniffing explosive detection dog Caesar with him as he parachutes in to sneak aboard the ship. Will Caesar and Ben be reunited in time to find the hidden explosive devices that threaten the ship? Can Operation Black Shark capture the modern-day pirates before it's too late?

Paperback, 304 pages
Publisher: Random House Australia, 4th January 2016
For Ages: 9 - 12 years old

RRP: $16.99 from

by Cammie McGovern

This is a heartwarming and humorous novel about the remarkable bond that forms between an aspiring service dog and an autistic boy in need of a friend. 

Chester has always wanted to become a service dog. When he fails his certification test though, it seems like that dream will never come true-until a family adopts him. They want him to be a companion for their ten-year-old son, Gus, who has autism. 

But Gus acts so differently than anyone Chester has ever met. He never wants to pet Chester, and sometimes he doesn't even want Chester in the room. Chester's not sure how to help Gus since this isn't exactly the job he trained for-but he's determined to figure it out. Because after all, Gus is now his person.

Cammie McGovern's heartfelt novel-told from Chester's point of view-explores the extraordinary friendship between a child and a dog with a poignant and modern twist.

Hardcover, 256 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins, 4th April 2017
For Ages: 8 - 12 years old

RRP: $33.99 from

by Jess Black

This is the first book in a fun, heartwarming series about the puppies that train to become Guide Dogs and the families who help raise them.

Lexie and Tom Walker are super excited to meet their new eight-week-old puppy, Harley. Harley is extra special because she’s a Guide Dog puppy in training!

While Harley is gorgeous, she’s also cheeky and good at causing trouble. In particular, she loves to chew things! It’s up to Lexie and Tom, with their Puppy Raising Officer’s help, to teach Harley some basic obedience so she can prove to everyone she is Guide Dog material.

Paperback, 96 pages
Publisher: Random House Australia, 3rd April 2017

RRP: $9.99 from

by Libby Hathorn, illustrated by Phil Lesnie

A moving story, told completely in dialogue, about a young Australian soldier in the battle of the Somme. Walking through the fields away from the front, he finds what he thinks is a stray dog, and decides to adopt it as a mascot for his company.  Then he meets Jacques, the homeless orphan boy who owns the dog. The soldier realises that Jacques needs the dog more - and perhaps needs his help as well.

This book was inspired by Libby Hathorn's months of research on her uncle, who survived Gallipoli but went on to fight at the Battle of the Somme and was killed there in 1917 at just twenty years old. 
With stunning illustrations from Phil Lesnie, this is a deeply moving celebration of friendship in times of war.

Publisher: Hachette Australia, 22 March 2016
For Ages: 3 - 6 years

RRP: $24.99 from

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