We Love Our Pets! Reading Recommendations for Fellow Pet Enthusiasts

(Left): Camron and Mr. Beefy. (Top Left to Right): Eva and D’Lyla (Lyla for short); Candace and Rue. (Bottom Left to Right): Bethany and Remy; Jason and Nibbles.

In honor of National Pet Month, West Harrison High School’s (Gulfport, MS) Goblet of Fire Chapter shares favorite stories to celebrate our four-legged friends.

Short Stories

“Tobermory” by Saki, recommended by Eva Smith

Tobermory” is a short story by Saki, published in 1911. The story is set at an estate during a party attended by wealthy people from the community. Mr. Cornelius Appin, who had been invited because of his wit, reveals that he taught the estate’s pet cat, Tobermory, to speak in human tongue. As expected, the other attendees do not believe Mr. Appin until Tobermory physically speaks to Mr. Blemley, revealing intimate and controversial secrets about each guest that only an eavesdropping and sly cat could hear.

I thoroughly recommend reading this short story not only because of Tobermory’s sarcastic personality and the sheer comedy of a talking cat, but also because of the theme of fraud within the upper class throughout history. Using humor, Saki ridicules the hypocrisy he recognized in Edwardian society, especially directed toward those with elite status and wealth.

“Dog Star” by Arthur C. Clarke, recommended by Camron Dear

Arthur C. Clarke‘s “Dog Star” features Laika, a stray dog picked up off the streets of California by a man who learns to treasure her companionship. It’s a tale that fully captures the bond between humans and dogs and of how deeply a bond can resonate between them. It shows how valuable those friendships are, and how they can change a person deeply. In the story, Laika even saves her owner from certain death, which is only one small example of how pets can rescue us in so many ways. We, as people, crave affection whether we are aware of it or not, which can be seen in the main character as he changes through their bond. I think everyone should read this as it teaches a valuable lesson about the imprint animals can have on our lives and how we affect them in return.




Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, recommended by Candace Gross

Where the Red Fern Grows is a heartfelt novel by Wilson Rawls about a boy named Billy and his two coonhounds. Within the story, Billy becomes very attached to his two dogs, and it shows his dedication to his animals; just as he is dedicated to his own, I will do almost anything for mine. It touches my heart and even makes me think of my own dogs at home. He experiences the loss of his dogs when they defend him against a mountain lion. The author does an amazing job of conveying the emotional aspects of losing a pet, and I connected with Billy over the loss of my own dog. I highly recommend this book for the relationships it shows between the two coonhounds and Billy. The events the three go through build a strong bond and will make other readers become connected to the dogs from the story and also their own pets.


Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan, recommended by Ms. Bethany Seal, Chapter Advisor

John Grogan‘s Marley & Me hits close to home for me—a wild, misbehaving Labrador retriever wreaks havoc on his home. Just like Marley, my labs have way too much fun, often at the expense of my yard, furniture, each other’s limbs, and sometimes my sanity. Despite their wild behavior and their destruction, they are the best companions! This book shows all sides of pet ownership: from the frustration of (yet another) chase around the house, to the further annoyance of something (once again) being destroyed; yet it also manages to celebrate the unconditional love and the “can’t live without them” feeling I think all pet owners experience. Even though Marley was dubbed the “world’s worst dog,” his family’s lives were forever changed for the better because of him—just like I’m better because of my dogs. This is a book all pet owners, or animal lovers, should read for its relatability—and yes, as usual, the book is better than the movie!


Nostalgic Poem

“The Three Little Kittens, They Lost Their Mittens” by Mother Goose, recommended by Jason Zehnpfennig

The Three Little Kittens, They Lost Their Mittens” by Mother Goose is a poem that my mother would read to me as a young child. The poem taught me, like many others, the importance of keeping track of your belongings, and how it is important to take good care of what is given to you. As a kid, I was very prone to losing items I was given, which is one of the big reasons why she read this to me.

Cats have also been a very large part of my life. There has always been at least one cat/kitten in my household; because of this, I was able to create such a strong connection with this poem. The poem also taught me there are consequences to actions, as the kittens would not be given pie if they lost their mittens.


Eva Smith is a senior at West Harrison High School and has been an active member of NEHS for three years. In her spare time, she loves reading, writing, and spending time with her animals. Besides Lyla, Eva has had cats, ferrets, rabbits, and chickens. When she moves to Florida to attend Florida International University, she plans to major in journalism and anthropology and wants to continue to professionally use her voice as a future journalist to write about pets, animals, and the threats they face each day. Personally, she also plans to rescue more animals because she loves pets.

Camron Dear is a senior at West Harrison High School and has been an active member of NEHS for three years. Next year she is going to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to pursue an Associate’s Degree in English and will go on to get her Bachelor’s Degree from Mississippi State University. She loves writing short stories and hopes to one day write a book of her own. She has four animals, which is a challenge in itself: one cat and three dogs—a Cane Corso, an English bulldog, and a Pitbull/Border Collie mix. One of her dogs, Mr. Beefy, has shown her the struggles and fun of being a dog owner, and she could never ask for a better dog!

Candace Gross is a senior at West Harrison High School. She has been an active member of NEHS for three years and has been deeply involved in the WH Band throughout high school, including as drum major. Next year, she plans to attend Millsaps College to double major in philosophy and psychology. Candace is also a pet lover! She has three rambunctious and playful English Springer Spaniels, but she has also owned cats and fish in her lifetime. She loves being around animals because of the environment they create; they are almost always loving and provide great companionship. In her free time, she loves to play with her dogs as much as she can!

Bethany Seal is in her ninth year at West Harrison High School where she teaches English 2 and Dual Credit English Composition 2. She received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from The University of Southern Mississippi and has been the English Department Chair for five years and the NEHS Advisor for four; she is in her first year as a member of the NEHS Advisory Council for the Southern Region. She is a lifelong animal lover, and in her free time, she loves to read and to spend time in the sun with her fiance and their three Labrador Retrievers: Rowdy, Rusty, and Remy.

Jason Zehnpfennig is a senior at West Harrison High School and has been an active NEHS member for two years. He is concurrently enrolled at MS Gulf Coast Community College and will graduate with both a high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree this year. He is passionate about serving his community, including as a member of both the Mayor’s Youth Council and the State Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council. Community service revolving around animals is always most personal to him because of his relationship with his cat. Growing up with his parents in the military, he had to move around a lot, but he appreciates that Nibbles was always close to him wherever he went!

National English Honor Society

The National English Honor Society (NEHS), founded and sponsored by Sigma Tau Delta, is the only international organization exclusively for secondary students and faculty who, in the field of English, merit special note for past and current accomplishments. Individual secondary schools are invited to petition for a local chapter, through which individuals may be inducted into Society membership. Immediate benefits of affiliation include academic recognition, scholarship and award eligibility, and opportunities for networking with others who share enthusiasm for, and accomplishment in, the language arts.

America’s first honor society was founded in 1776, but high school students didn’t have access to such organizations for another 150 years. Since then, high school honor societies have been developed in leadership, drama, journalism, French, Spanish, mathematics, the sciences, and in various other fields, but not in English. In 2005, National English Honor Society launched and has been growing steadily since, becoming one of the largest academic societies for secondary schools.

As Joyce Carol Oates writes, “This is the time for which we have been waiting.” Or perhaps it was Shakespeare: “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer . . .” we celebrate English studies through NEHS.

National English Honor Society accepts submissions to our blog, NEHS Museletter, from all membership categories (students, Advisors, and alumni). If you are interested in submitting a blog, please read the Suggested Guidelines on our website. Email any questions and all submissions to: