From Tracie: Do Book Dogs Really Exist?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do Book Dogs Really Exist?

I just finished a book about a dog, The Art of Racing in the Rain. Or really a book about a man and his family told from the perspective of a dog. Actually it is about death, a demonic stuffed zebra, a child molestation accusation, a custody battle, and race car drivers. It needed more dog-ish-ness. The dog narrator spent a large portion of the time obsessed with a documentary he saw that said some dogs will be reincarnated as men, and trying to prepare for that eventuality.

It was the second dog book I read this year, the first was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which came to me via Thomas, in a box of garage sale books. It was more about breeding and training dogs. Also it was about murder and ghosts.

Thomas longs to read fun books, but he doesn't have the time or attention to do it, so he brings books home for me to read and summarize for him. I don't complain about this system, even if it does result in the occasional odd book.

Back to the dog books. I wonder if these authors had magical dogs who really listened to them with understanding, and had magical powers of empathy and love. Because book dogs seem rife with these characteristics.

I had a dog when I was a kid. Her name was Diamond. She was pretty, a Black Lab and German Shepherd mix, with perky ears, all black except for a white diamond on her chest. When she first came to us, I imagined in my only-child-book-loving-heart that she would be like a book dog. My new best friend, content to sit for hours listening to my every word, knowing exactly when to bring a toy to distract me with play, and knowing when to lay her head understandingly on my knee.

She did none of those things. Mostly she worked out new ways to jump our fence. And she chewed through several Nancy Drew books, a couch, an entire set of lawn furniture (not the plastic kind), a few pool cues, and everything else that would stay still long enough for her to get her teeth on it.

When she wasn't chewing on things, she was sweet. Not much of a cuddler, though, and not seemingly in possession of all those super book dog traits. Is it mean to say I was disappointed at first? As time passed, I loved her for who she was, all book dog failings aside. I'm sure she spent less time philosophizing about humans, and more time wondering why we kept taking our fur off and replacing it with new fur (none of which is particularly furry) from the cabinet in the wall we call a closet.

Dog book authors - did they have magical childhood pets, are they big fans of anthropomorphism, or just people looking for an interesting hook for a worn out story?

Do you have a dog with book dog traits?

*Best dog book ever: Where The Red Fern Grows. Actually about dogs and love. Not so much about gardening, no matter what the title indicates. 


  1. I've read Edgar Sawtelle. I liked it... but need to read it again to be able to fully digest it I think. I still need to read Racing in the Rain. I hear it's great.

    As a kid, one of my favorite dog books was A Dog Called Kitty. Another I need to re-read, but I remember that dog being real in the sense that it had a personality but wasn't, as you put it, magical.

    Meanwhile, my current dog, Trixie, certainly seems to listen to what my husband and I say, understand it, and then express her opinion on the matter in what is an extremely comical way. Just last night, when I asked her if she finished her dinner, she looked at me and belched. I'm pretty sure that I think she's... special, but that most other people just think I'm nuts.

    Maybe that's the "magical" characteristics dogs in books have... it's the owner's quirks, not the dog's ;)

  2. I tend to get the 'special' animals. They fit in with my family quite well.

  3. I heard Edgar Sawtelle was good. What did you think? Also, that dog would have gotten a boot up his ass for chewing my books up. Well, probably more like a very disappointed look. But a very strong one:)

  4. Well, if you include the somewhat special attributes of Marley from Marley and Me, my mother's dog is totally a book dog. ;) She's thick as a couple of planks, lol.

    In all seriousness, we have had a dog that had many real "book dog" attributes. Her name was Tess and she was a pretty amazing animal.

  5. Dogs can be special, though not like the human quailties that books can give them. Sounds like it was a thought provoking book though. hugs you are special

  6. Mah puppy has no book-dog traits, unless there are books about dogs that pout when their feelers are hurt and bark all night at crickets and leaves. I still wouldn't trade her for all the money in the world, because there is nothing that compares to the little puppy kisses I get when I see her after work.

  7. I have a dog book. As in I have a dog that likes to eat books. ;)

  8. We really did have a book dog :) Though he did plenty of things like being hard to potty train, and getting into sweets, and chewing up some things, he really did have all the wonderful book dog characteristics you could ask for!

  9. I have heard that The Art of Racing in the Rain is good. I'm so funny though. I just can't bring myself to pick up a book about a dog. I can read fiction and fantasy books, but change the perspective from a person (or a mythical creature) and I just don't feel interested. Really great to read your perspective!