February 21, 2022

#08-190: Seven Classic Books about Dogs

Note: My wife and I live with two large dogs: Buddy, a Belgian Malinois/Labrador mix, and Bella, a pure Golden Retriever. Both are around four years old. This has caused us to be interested in "all things dog," so I thought I'd share with you seven classic books about dogs.

Get Ready: Do you have a dog or other pet? How do you feel about her or him?

All seven of these books are available for free on the internet; the links are to the texts of the books. (Please note that the word counts are approximate.)


The earliest of the books is A Dog of Flanders by Ouida (1872, 14,200 words). In this story, said to be popular in East Asia, Nello, a Flemish orphan, lives with his impoverished grandfather, Jehan, in Antwerp. Together they find and rescue a dog--perhaps the large breed called the Bouvier de Flandres?--that was almost beaten to death, and name him "Patrasche." When old Jehan dies, boy and dog have to live on the streets. In the end, they visit a cathedral, where they are found dead of hypothermia.


Beautiful Joe by Margaret Marshall Saunders (1893, 90,300 words) is also about a cruelly abused dog. This mongrel was even mutilated, but is rescued by a kind-hearted man. It's a true story; the author was related to the man who rescued Joe ("Beautiful" is meant ironically). The book is told "in Joe's own words," and contributed to worldwide awareness of animal cruelty.


The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903, 31,800 words) is perhaps the most famous book on this list. Buck, a pet St. Bernard/Scotch collie mix, is stolen by his judge/owner's gardener and sold to be a sled dog. He finds himself fighting for survival in the Alaskan wilderness until he is befriended by a tough, kindly old miner named John Thornton. When Thornton dies, Buck returns to the wild and is truly free.


Greyfriars Bobby by Eleanor Atkinson (1912, 63,100 words) is also based on a true story. Also written from the dog's point of view, it tells of Bobby, a Skye Terrier who lives in Edinburgh with a man named "Auld (Old) Jock." When Jock dies, Bobby hunts for him until he finds Jock's grave. He guards it day and night for 14 years until he himself dies in 1872.


Lad: A Dog by Albert Payson Terhune (1919, 81,100 words). Terhune, a journalist, was also a dog breeder, and wrote around thirty books about the Rough Collies at his Sunnybank Kennels. This book was the first, with twelve stories featuring the bravery, loyalty, and intelligence of a dog named Lad and his mate, Lady.


Lassie Come-Home by Eric Knight (1940, 54,900 words) is also famous due to a series of movies and TV shows. When a poor family has to sell their son's dog Lassie (another Rough Collie) to a rich Duke and the dog is taken far away, she treks many miles to be reunited with the boy she loves.


Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard (1945, 57,400 words) is about seventeen-year-old Danny Pickett who lives in a one-room cabin in the woods with his father. A wealthy local man has an expensive show dog, and asks Danny to train and care for him. Though the dog has a formal show name ("Champion Sylvester's Boy"), Danny calls the Irish setter "Big Red." They have many adventures together until in the end the rich man gives the dog to Danny.


Note: Of course there are many more books about dogs, notably Old Yeller by Fred Gipson and Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, but these are still under copyright. The ones I've listed are FREE! Enjoy!


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Novels_about_dogs

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. abused
  2. cathedral
  3. cruelty
  4. hypothermia
  5. loyalty
  6. mongrel
  7. mutilated
  8. reunited
  9. sled
  10. treks

  1. brought together again
  2. disfigured; having parts cut off
  3. a kind of very large church
  4. meanness; bad treatment
  5. faithfulness; the act of remaining true to someone
  6. a vehicle for sliding across snow
  7. makes a difficult journey
  8. treated very badly
  9. body temperature which is dangerously low
  10. a dog of mixed (or no) breed

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for February 21, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. h; 2. c; 3. d; 4. i; 5. e; 6. j; 7. b; 8. a; 9. f; 10. g