by Bill Wallace
Story about a farm boy who overcomes his fear of dogs. He\’s terrified of them from having been attacked by one when he was little. That dog had rabies, so he had to receive a series of very painful shots in his stomach and was traumatized by the whole experience. Now a dog easily runs him off when he\’s facing a bully in the schoolyard and his dad jibes him for being continually afraid. Then a stray puppy shows up at his back door, trying to get their barn cats\’ food. The cats run the puppy off and it\’s going to starve when the boy decides to save it. He intends to just feed it until it is strong enough to get chased off and find a new home, but gradually he looses his fear of the dog and learns to care for it. The dog becomes his companion and playmate. He has to figure out how to keep it from eating poisoned meat left out, when neighbors bait for coyotes (and all their attempts to pen the dog or tie it up fail). He gets frustrated when his dog won\’t help round up the family cows but is frightened instead. And then he really has to face his own terrors when he and the dog confront a pack of feral dogs that attacks the cattle. For a book aimed at younger readers, it has a lot of distressing scenes- the dog fight gets bloody, and earlier in the book there are plenty of instances where people throw rocks at dogs, or kick them- even the main character. There\’s bullying and adults acting mean as well. Also the parents in the story just laugh when the dog gets bigger and literally throws the cats around. That kinda bothered me. The ending was sad- how many pet stories end up with the dog dying– and this one in such a senseless accident- but then it turned awful corny on the final pages. I think I actually rolled my eyes. Oh well, it\’s a kid\’s book. I might like another one the author wrote about this same boy and his horse, if I come across it by chance (this one was a library sale find).
Rating: 3/5 137 pages, 1980
Is that an older book? That would explain the bullying and mean adults.
Yes, it is. From the early eighties. I was pretty surprised that the parents were such a poor example. I guess it's rather realistic, though.