Recently, our beloved 14 year old dog passed away. She drifted off peacefully, but she left a big hole in our heart and lives.
Dogs and kids have such complex relationships, but they can form the strongest of bonds.
This week it seemed right to pay tribute to a great new book My Dog Doesn’t Like Me about kids and dogs, and to my special girl, Puff.
Pets make great inspiration for stories. Like any character, you have to think what sets them apart from others – what makes them unique – what makes them someone readers can connect with?
What made Puff special was her gentleness. Our pet rabbits sometimes jumped on her while she was asleep and while she woofed at them when she woke in fright, she never harmed them.
I don’t have Puff’s story yet, but one day I will. I often find that reading books about characters similar to those I want to write about can help me find the core of my story.
My Dog Doesn’t Like Me by Elizabeth Fensham is about another very special dog called Ugly, and a young boy, Eric who wants so desperately to bond with him, but doesn’t know how.
One of the things I liked most about this book was the perspective it was written from.
Eric really does think his dog doesn’t like him and this is just the kind of thing a young boy might think in the situation Eric finds himself.
Eric is disappointed with his dog Ugly. Ugly was supposed to be his special pet, but he seems to like everyone else in the family better.
It’s not that Ugly doesn’t like him, it’s just that Ugly doesn’t know him as well as he knows Mum who feeds him or Grandpa who spends time with him when Eric is at school.
If Eric wants to bond with Ugly he’s going to have to spend a lot more time with him.
And now he’s facing a deadline because Eric has limited time to train Ugly and get him under control or his dog is going to be sent to a new home.
I love the way the author presents this very authentic character dilemma in such a realistic way.
We can feel Eric’s pain and worry, and the tension builds as Eric finds himself running out of time to train Ugly.
The author sought expert assistance when researching dog handling and you can tell this from the believable way in which the story unfolds.
This story has a life lesson, but it’s woven seamlessly into the narrative and I can see this book appealing to pet lovers, parents and teachers.
It is published by UQP.
Another dog story you might like is Just a Dog by Michael Gerard Bauer.