I rarely read novels in which an animal is a significant character, but the companionship of my two cats over the past twelve years has made me a bit more aware of this type of fiction. I recently enjoyed a touching new novel , The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, a Seattle-area author. In part, I was intrigued by the title, which I assumed to be a reference to the canine protagonist frolicking in the damp Seattle climate, but is actually a reference to his race car-driving owner. Although I have no interest in auto racing (bad Hoosier!), I did enjoy the relationship between the beleaguered family and Enzo, their protective and philosophical dog, nearing the end of his days as the novel begins. The loving dog has regretted not being able to more directly help his family during various travails. After spending much of his indoors life absorbing everything he can from TV auto racing channels (not to mention a fascination with the Weather Channel), Enzo yearns for a human reincarnation. This one's a charming tear-jerker.