If you are a dog lover or even if you are not one these books are sure to thrill you. Here is a long list of books and there is a common thread that runs through them. Dogs!
Priya asked her father to tell her a story before she went to bed. Her father frowned, scratched his head and thought for a while. Then he smiled and said, “Ah! Yes, I know a nice story for you. Come and sit here.”
Priya eagerly awaited the story. Her father cleared his throat and began: “Once upon a time, there was a dog named Rover. And the story is over!”
He smiled triumphantly at a disappointed Priya.
The next morning when Priya came to breakfast, she said, “Dad, can you take me to the library?”
“After last night’s story I thought I would go to the library and borrow books with animals in them.”
At the library Priya went to the children’s section. The first book she saw was Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight. She had seen the movie and was surprised to find that it was actually a book before it became a movie.
Right next to it was another book called Grey Friars Bobby. The picture on the cover showed a little dog sitting in a cemetery looking rather sad and forlorn next to a grave. She found that it was the story of a Skye Terrier who loved his master Auld Jock. When Jock dies he is buried in a grave in Greyfriar’s Churchyard in Edinburgh. The dog refuses to leave his master’s grave and for 14 years comes back to sleep there every night. This touching story was written by Eleanor Atkinson, and was based on a true story.
The next on the rack was mysteriously titled Magic Puppy: A Forest Charm. A pup that knew magic?
However, away from magic and devotion was Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam. This was a story of a German Shepherd trained for war. She can sniff out bombs, traps and the enemy. She meets Rick who wants to prove to his family and friends back home that he can fight the war bravely. Cracker has her doubts about Rick, but then they are a team now and they have a war to fight.
Old Yeller on the other hand showed a picture of big, ugly, yellow dog. It is a classic, written by Fred Gipson. The story revolves around 14-year-old, Travis and the relationship he builds with Old Yeller, as he calls the dog, he once wanted to shoot dead.
Sounder by William Howard Armstrong won the Newbery Medal and is considered a ‘must-read’ in children’s Literature. The story is set in the mid 19 century and talks about a poor African-American boy and his pet a great Coon dog named Sounder. In the middle of a major family crisis, Sounder gets shot and he runs away. Will he come back?
And here was a story of a stray dog. A Dog’s Life by Ann Martin traces the life of two strays Squirrel and Bone. They are taught some of the many skills needed to survive as strays by their mother. But then very soon, their mother is taken from them. Then, it is just the two of them against the world. One day they get separated and Squirrel has to fend for herself.
But it’s not all about human-dog friendships. Along Came a Dog by Meindert Dejobg is about a little red hen and a big black dog that makes its way to a farm in search of a home, and the friendship that develops between the two.
White Fang by Jack London was first published in 1908. Set in Canada it talks of a wild wolf dog’s journey from the wild to being domesticated. The Call of the Wild also by London on the other hand talks of a domesticated dog named Buck that is kidnapped and made to work in Yukon, Canada during the gold rush.
Here is a wonderfully moving book, perfect for dog-lovers of any age. Everybody, well almost everybody, wishes they would get a dog as a gift for their birthday. One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson is one such story. Hal is celebrating his 10th birthday and he wishes he would be gifted a dog. His parents are rich and he lives in a big house and has tons of gifts. But it’s a dog he wants. So as a birthday treat he is taken to Easy Pets store to pick a dog of his choice to keep for a weekend. But Hal does not know this. And when he does find out, things begin to change.
Robbie McLeod has been orphaned and is being brought up by his rather unkind uncle. The year is 1745, the same year when Bonnie Prince Charlie returned to Scotland to claim his throne. When the Prince rides through the country calling for men to serve in his army, Robbie signs up. But at Culloden the Scots lose to the English and Robbie flees for his life. He becomes a hunted man and he is just 16 years old. Hiding in a remote glen, he makes a friend for life — Charlie. But Charlie, is no ordinary friend, he is a wild wolf. Michael Morpurgo’s book The Last Wolf is full of action.
Billy Coleman is just leaving for work when he finds the neighbourhood dogs in a fight with a Redbone Coonhound. He chases away the dogs and rescues the hound who is badly hurt. When he has nursed it back to health he knows he must set it free to find its way home. This brings back memories of his own two Coonhounds, Old Dan and Little Ann — getting them, training them, the competitions they attended and finally their death and his intense grief at their loss.
Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls is a nostalgic story of a 10-year-old boy and his two dogs. The title may seem a bit puzzling but then at the end of the story it makes sense. According to Indian legend, only an angel can plant a red fern. When Billy goes to visit the graves of Old Dan and Little Ann he finds a giant red fern growing between their graves.
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford is a story that reiterates an animal’s love for the people who care for him. This is a story of three pets — a bull terrier, a Siamese cat and a young Labrador who travel 300 miles through Canadian wilderness searching for their masters. It was adapted into a movie by Walt Disney as “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey”.
Dogs are great ice breakers, they keep you company and also win you friends. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo tells the story of a lonely little girl called India Opal Buloni. One day, she takes home a stray dog she finds outside a supermarket. She names him Winn-Dixie, the name of the supermarket. Life is definitely better with little Winn-Dixie beside her.
That was quite a long list of dog stories, Priya thought to herself as her eyes wandered to the top shelf. She saw a book with a picture of a cat on it. Tabby McTat was by Julie Donaldson. It was about a busker and his singing cat.