As the “official” biographer of Lassie, bestselling author Ace Collins understands the inherent potential of canine companions. Lassie’s on-screen heroics are symbolic of the innate ability of dogs, from highly trained professionals to backyard pooches, to perform acts of courage and service, says Collins.

In a special treat for both Collins and fans, the current “official” Lassie joins the author today to help him promote his new title, Man’s Best Hero: True Stories of Great American Dogs (Abingdon, June).

The book explores both the strength of the human/canine bond and the potential of all dogs to channel their inner Lassie, who is also represented in one of the 13 stories. Canine heroes of all shapes and sizes are included, says Collins, from rescue dogs that race into burning buildings to save lives to “little stories” like the shepherd/collie mix who made it her business each day to help a local crossing guard guide school children safely across a street.

“I think every dog is looking for a calling... they want to serve,” says Collins, and that includes family pets. “My goal is to have people take a second look at their own dogs to see the potential there, if they will just take time to unlock it.” To help facilitate that process, the book includes resources on assistance dogs, shelter rescues, organizations, and programs.

As to what people can learn from canine friends, he offers, “Dogs can teach us how to be a better human being. They have the unique ability to be all the things we should be. If you are looking for a role model, make it a guide dog.”

With more than 60 books in his canon, including Lassie: A Dog’s Life—The First Fifty Years and Music for Your Heart: Reflections from Your Favorite Songs, Collins is taking a short break from a four-book-per-year schedule to attend his first BEA. “I will get to meet fans and observe what other authors are doing and talk to them about the process of writing.”

Lassie will be joining Ace Collins as he signs copies of Man’s Best Hero today, at 2 p.m., in the Abingdon Press booth (1064).