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At the end of the day Eko and I usually end up on the couch together. He snores and sprawls over two-thirds of the couch and I use the remaining third to read. A few weeks ago, while reading The Art of Racing in the Rain, I realized how many great stories feature great dogs. From childhood classics to Greek classics, dogs have played a memorable role in all types of different works. It was tough to pare down the list but in no particular order here are my ten favorite dogs from literature.
Enzo – The Art of Racing in the Rain
Writing a novel is hard, but writing a compelling novel from a dog’s perspective is even harder. Enzo, the dog-narrator of this tale is a kind, loving and loyal pup. Enzo’s voice captures the personality of our dogs perfectly
Argos – The Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of the world’s most famous and oft retold epics but many people forget about Argos, Odysseus’s dog. Away for twenty years, Odysseus finally returns home, disguised so that he may retake his rightful place from the usurpers. The disguise fools everyone, except for Argos, who faithfully waited for Odysseus’s return. My odysseys rarely take me further than the grocery store, but I love how Eko – and all dogs – have the loyal spirit of Argos while we are away.
The Hound – The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles was the first Sherlock Holmes story I read and the mystery of the evil hound kept me engrossed. In literature, dogs aren’t always the good guys, but that’s okay. In this story in took the world’s greatest detective to catch the hound. Pretty cool if you ask me.
101 Dalmatians (can’t pick just one) – The Hundred And One Dalmatians
As someone with freckles, spots are obviously near and dear to my heart. You can imagine my horror when I learned of Cruella De Vil, a woman willing to kill to get spots for her coat! I remember watching the movie adaptation of the book, holding onto my family’s Dalmatian for dear life! Us spotted creatures have to stick together.
Shiloh – Shiloh
Figuring out this world is no easy task for a kid, so it helps to have a four-legged guide. Shiloh is Marty’s (the young narrator) guide for learning about morals and ethics. The story, largely because of Shiloh, does an excellent job at introducing young readers to the complexities of the world
White Fang – White Fang
White Fang is another successful story told from a wolf/dog’s point of view. Every kid dreams of running wild and free and running through the woods with White Fang was an exhilarating read that I will never forget.
Snowy – The Adventures of Tintin
Tintin gets all the credit in the title, but he couldn’t have done it without his faithful terrier Snowy. Loyal, brave and always humorous, Snowy was hands down my favorite character. Like most dogs, Snowy would always notice the things that people seem to miss. Can’t begin to count the number of times I have found something interesting only because it caught Eko’s attention first.
Clifford – Clifford The Big Red Dog
Clifford is such a popular pup that he was the centerpiece decoration at the White House one Christmas (see above). But that is not Clifford’s highest honor – I think that would be having the red SUV Eko and I drove around the country in named after him. Simplicity is universal and the simple message of a big dog with an even bigger heart resonates with everyone.
Fang – Harry Potter
Hagrid is one of my favorite characters from the Harry Potter series in part because of his love for animals. Fang was a perfect match for Hagrid in both looks and disposition, and I was happy Hagrid had someone with some sense to look after him.
Toto – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The tale of Dorothy and her cohort might have ended dramatically different if not for the heroics of Toto. While the group cowered in front of the Wizard, it was Toto who revealed that the Wizard was not so great and powerful after all. Another classic case of a dog’s intuition saving the day.
I guess the moral of the story is that if you are going on an adventure, you probably want to bring your dog with you!
Now, who am I missing? Who is one of your favorite dogs from literature that I don’t have on the list? I have a feeling I am going to be saying, “oh, I should have included him/her!” a whole lot when I read these comments.
LOVE LOVE LOVE “The Art Of Racing in the Rain” and LOVE They Odyssey (I minored in Philosophy….real useful eh? lol)…of course The Wizard of Oz and 101 Dalmatians….
I have to say that Jack London scarred me with his descriptions of animal cruelty. It was required reading in school, which made me wonder about the teacher, a little.
While one can debate whether a comic is literature or not, one can not simply ignore Snoopy! or Dogbert! or Marmaduke! or Buckles!
Of those listed, I am a Clifford fan,the others were too serious for me 🙂
You’ve just given me the name for my big, red SUV. May I borrow Clifford from you?
Of course I love 101 Dalmatians (being my breed of choice) and I love The Wizard of Oz & the Harry Porter series in book or movie form. Hound of the Baskervilles & White Fang both entranced and scared me & I haven’t read The Odyssey since school days. I’ll have to check out the others on your list.
Gizmo & I just finished “Art of Racing”…actually put it down for a week half way through, it was hitting me that hard…picked it back up and read through to the end and at least there was some bit of joy there…it’s not an easy book, but well worth reading
Don’t miss Maggie in the book “Suspect” by Robert Crais, or Searchlight in “Stone Fox” by John Fardiner. I love The Art of Racing in the Rain.
The Art of Racing in the Rain is a fabulous book. I love the perspective. It made for unique and wonderful story telling.
For young children, Good Dog, Carl is a favorite. Mostly illustrations, though telling ones. You can make the story up as you go along.
Another children’s favorite: Officer Buckle and Gloria. Delightful. I’ll be back with links.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Dog,_Carl is one
This one is also a Caldecott Winner. I’ve read it over and over again to both boys, and never tired of it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Officer_Buckle_and_Gloria
How could you forget Old Yeller!! The first storthat made me cry. I still can’t read it without crying!!!
What about Marley? I cried through the whole book! Fox & the Hound? Also, it may not be in a book but who could forget Turner & Hooch and Homeward Bound!! They’re not necessarily literature, but they are “classic” dog stories! 😉 oh…. and Benji!!!
Another fabulous “doggy” children’s series you might want to look at (under the guise of checking them out for Emily’s niece, of course) is the Hairy Maclary and friends series by the fabulous Lynley Dodd. Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy is a small, scruffy and mischievous dog with some cleverly-named canine friends – there’s “Bottomley Potts, covered in spots”, “Hercules Morse, as big as a horse”, “Schnitzel Von Krumm, with a very low tum”, “Bitzer Maloney, all skinny and bony”, and “Muffin McClay, like a bundle of hay”. Great fun!
There are also cats in the series – the lovely Alys from Gardening Nirvana and I both have a Slinky Malinki – named after Dodd’s cheeky black, feline character.
Oh I remember about this doggies. As I was a child I hated Sherlock Holmes for killing the dog. …ahmmm… what’s with Ran-tan-plan the idiotic cartoon-twin of Rin-tin-tin?
Where the Red Fern Grows, is a must read and definitely an old favorite from my childhood. Didn’t realize till now that that might be where my love of hound dogs began!
My mom loves Snowy especially 🙂 And now she has some more reading to do too!
Have you read/heard of the Chet and Bernie series? I think there are five or six books so far. It’s a mystery series told from the perspective of a dog about his crime-solving adventures with his detective human owner. The book titles are all dog puns (like ‘Dog On It’ and ‘To Fetch a Thief’). And the dog narrator is hilarious.
My favorite childhood book was ‘The Pokey Little Puppy’, which I just read to my grand-daughter last week. And like a lot of others, I loved ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’. It was such a bittersweet book.
I love that Eko “allows you to read, (one of my favorite “past”-times. With Tuffy cat, I’ve had to obey when he puts his BIG front paws on the book I’m reading, which is his way of saying he wants me to take him outside for awhile. How rude! But, it’s done with love.
I really enjoyed all of Jack London’s books, but especially White Fang. I plan to look for The Art of Racing in the Rain, bu8t I’ll have to hide it until Tuff’ is fast asleep. Keep up the good work, Will. We love hearing from you.
Dottie and Tuffy
Hey Will and Eko. Love reading about your adventures. We live in South Africa, and one of our favourite stories is jock of the bush veld! And I think that jock was really a ridgeback! Another one you forgot was scooby doo, who could also pass as a ridgeback!