The kids are back in school. The days are growing shorter. Soon, a cold wind will blow and we’ll be spending more time indoors. Put the remote down; it’s time to pick up a good book and hunker down in a comfy chair.
Kids and adults alike love a good story that has a great dog in the plot. From the classics to the modern, here are a few of our preferred dog stories. Read something you’ve never read before, or re-visit a tried-and-true favorite.
Spoiler Alert! In some cases, we may be giving away the ending.
Argos, The Odyssey, Homer
He may be the first dog ever noted in Western literature. Argos waited 20 years for the return of his master, Odysseus, and was the only one to recognize the man. Knowing his master is home, safe and sound, the old dog peacefully dies, becoming a symbol of never-ending love and fidelity.
Toto, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
L. Frank Baum described Toto as “a little black dog with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose. Toto seems average enough but, in later books, he and other animals reveal that they’ve always had the ability to communicate with humans. Why didn’t they reveal their secret earlier?
Buck, The Call of the Wild, Jack London
A powder puff living the good life in California, Buck is sold into dog sled slavery and must face the hard life of winters in Canada. Having gone virtually wild, he is tamed when he meets gold miner/outdoorsman John Thornton, and is reminded of the power of love, even in the face of tragedy.
Lassie, Lassie Come Home, Eric Knight
Though most people probably know Lassie from her on-screen appearances (“What’s that girl? Timmy fell down the well?”), she originated in a 1938 Saturday Evening Post story by Eric Knight. The full-length novel was published in 1940, which chronicles the dog’s journey to get back to the boy she loves. The beloved collie spawned additional books, radio programs and an entire series of movies.
Old Yeller, Old Yeller, Fred Gipson
A story that makes the most hard-hearted well up. He hunts, saves the family from a bear and loves the 14-year-old hero of the book. Yeller makes the ultimate sacrifice for the Coates family; he’s lost but never forgotten. This is probably the first tragedy that youngsters experience; it deserves high marks for what it teaches all of us about love.
Fang, Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling
We have a soft spot for Hagrid’s bumbling boarhound. Sure, he’s a big, drooling coward — but when the plot calls for him, he’s ready to take the stupendous spell.
So, head to the library, download an eBook, or check the dusty boxes in your attic. Who better to help you enjoy the shorter days than man’s best friend?