A sampling of the many books featuring (hu)man’s best friend.
It’s easy to tell when writers love dogs; their passion for canines tends to make it into their fiction.
Some of our most beloved literature features dogs in prominent roles, giving us a clue into the writers’ feelings about man’s best friend. Several writers are known for non-doggy books, but have found ways to include dogs in their other works.
Here are a few books that will tickle your fancy if you like dogs in your fiction.
The Wizard of Oz. First published in 1900, this fantasy novel by L. Frank Baum featured the infamous Toto, a Cairn Terrier whose dislike for mean old ladies served as a catalyst for Dorothy’s adventures in Oz. In the “Wizard of Oz,” we manage to root for a dog with a proclivity to bite people because some folks clearly deserve it. Dorothy’s love and loyalty to her little dog still strikes a chord with readers more than 100 years later.
Peter Pan. A literary classic by J.M. Barrie first published in 1911, “Peter Pan” (also published as “Peter and Wendy”) was the inspiration for the famous Disney movie by the same name. Unlike the Disney film “Peter Pan,” the novel has a dark undercurrent only softened by the kind, selfless nature of Nana, the family Newfoundland, whose job it is to protect Wendy and her brothers from the likes of Peter Pan. Nana fails of course, which is why we have this story. However, she tried very hard.
Call of the Wild. The ultimate canine adventure story, Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” was published in 1903 and features Buck, a St. Bernard/Collie cross, who is stolen from his home in California and shipped to the far north during the Canadian gold rush of the 1890s. Buck is forced to become a sled dog and ultimately fight for his life. Although the main character of this classic is a dog, the book was written for adults and took many years for London to research.
The Plague Dogs. Written by Richard Adams, famous for his first book “Watership Down,” ”Plague Dogs” tells the heartbreaking story of two dogs, Rowf and Snitter, who escape from a cruel research laboratory in England. Published in 1977, the book takes readers through the trials of Rowf and Snitter, and a red fox named The Tod, who they befriend. The dogs are pursued by the government and slandered in the media. Considered a literary masterpiece by many, “Plague Dogs” is a moving book.
I Am the Messenger. Markus Zusak, author of this contemporary novel published in 2005, is most well-known for “The Book Thief,” a New York Times Bestseller for more than 230 weeks. In “I Am the Messenger” (or “The Messenger,” as it was originally published in Zusak’s native Australia), protagonist Ed Kennedy turns to the companionship of his old dog, The Doorman, when he starts receiving mysterious messages written on playing cards instructing him to intercede in strangers’ lives. The Doorman is a stinky mutt who likes to drink coffee, and thanks to Zusak’s brilliant writing, you can almost smell him.
Editor’s Note: For more books featuring dogs for adults and children, check out these lists:
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com and hollywoodhoofbeats.net/