Skip to main content

Rescuing Penny Jane

One Shelter Volunteer, Countless Dogs, and the Quest to Find Them All Homes

Amy Sutherland


List Price: 26.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (2/20/2017)
Library Binding, Large Print (4/1/2017)
MP3 CD (2/21/2017)
Compact Disc (2/21/2017)
Compact Disc (2/21/2017)


What shelter dogs need is obvious—a home. But how do we find all those homes? That question sends bestselling writer and lifelong dog lover Amy Sutherland on a quest to find the answers in her own volunteer work and beyond. The result is an unforgettable and inspiring trip through the world of homeless dogs and the people who work so hard to save them.

Rescuing Penny Jane introduces readers to dogs like Alfred, a loony, gorilla-sized Goldendoodle, intent on jumping on absolutely everyone at the shelter; Rugby, the crippled pit bull—mix puppy who was found abandoned on a roadside; and Brody, an overly exuberant and misunderstood German shepherd mix. Then there are the author’s own adopted dogs: Penny Jane, the terribly skittish stray from a Maine farm who repeatedly pushes Amy’s patience to its limits; and Walter Joe, who acts like a rabid dog in the shelter only to become a marshmallow in his new home. She also delves into the history of rescue dogs, like Sido, the sheltie mix who inspired the no-kill movement; Sadie, the Civil War dog who braved Gettysburg; and Bummer and Lazarus, San Francisco’s famous nineteenth-century stray dogs.

Through conversations with leading shelter directors, researchers, trainers, adoption counselors, and caretakers across the country, Sutherland offers a nuanced, fully informed picture of the rescue world, along with its challenges, champions, and triumphs. Rich, moving, and at times laugh-out-loud funny, Rescuing Penny Jane ultimately explores what it is to be a Canis lupus familiaris and what it is to be a Homo sapien.

Praise For Rescuing Penny Jane: One Shelter Volunteer, Countless Dogs, and the Quest to Find Them All Homes

“Thoroughly researched and engaging.... Yes, a book about shelters and homeless dogs can be difficult, but it can also be life affirming and exhilarating.... An invaluable book for all dog lovers.”
The Bark

Rescuing Penny Jane is at once a compelling memoir and an insightful exploration of shelter dogs in our society; as Amy Sutherland welcomes us into her extended dog family, she reveals much about the souls of both dogs and people. This is an inspiring book full of heart and redemption.”
— Garth Stein, author of The Art Of Racing In The Rain

“The animal rescue culture is one of the most fascinating sub-cultures in American life, and Amy Sutherland explores it with honesty, humor, and great insight. This is not another sappy book about saving animals, but a valuable journey into the best spirit of this extraordinary new movement.”
— Jon Katz, author of Talking to Animals

“Her understanding of shelter dogs—she writes that they are not so much homeless as humanless—shines through on every page....An inside look at the experiences of shelter dogs that is sure to appeal to dog and animal lovers.”

“In Rescuing Penny Jane, Amy Sutherland offers eye-opening insight into the shelter world, the lost and lonely dogs—their history, their emotions, their problems, their capacity for love—and her own experience with many enchanting but far from easy-to-handle individuals. A great read.”
— Karen Pryor, author of Don’t Shoot the Dog!

“An honest and engaging portrayal of her journey from dog lover to dedicated shelter volunteer. [Sutherland] seamlessly interweaves a narrative of the dogs she has loved over the years—warts and all. Reader, beware: you may find yourself falling in love with each one too.”
— Alison Spanner, Booklist, starred review

“Part self-help guide, part animal psychology textbook and part memoir . . . Sutherland has a breezy style.”
New York Times Book Review on What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage

“Playful, passionate, and practical.”
Redbook on What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage

“Sutherland’s a smart, engaging writer, and her stories about the hows and whys of exotic animal training are fun and fascinating.”
Boston Sunday Globe on What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage

Harper, 9780062377234, 288pp.

Publication Date: February 21, 2017

About the Author

Amy Sutherland is the bestselling author of three previous books, most recently What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage. She writes the popular Bibliophiles column in the Boston Globe’s Book Section and has contributed to the New York Times, Smithsonian, Preservation, and other outlets. She lives in Boston with her husband and two rescue dogs, Walter Joe and Penny Jane.