by Martin McKenna
Memoir of the author\’s childhood when he ran away from home and lived on the streets in Ireland, taking up company with a pack of stray dogs. It\’s not like Dog Boy. This kid was older, and wrote his own story, and told just as much (in alternating chapters) about his home life and the incidents that led up to his running away. He had ADHD, in a time when it was completely misunderstood, so his behavior just led to punishment, frustration, and teasing from other children. His home was rough- a father who regularly got drunk and beat him, numerous other siblings to compete with. School was awful- he couldn\’t read, failed to comprehend a lot of the material, and got sick of the teachers\’ corporal punishment when he didn\’t fall in line. He became the target of bullies, as well. Ran away from it all and lived in a culvert, then hay barns, stealing food and attracting the company of several dogs, which eventually became seven. He felt more comfortable among the dogs than with people, so settled in with them. Eventually he took up a few odd jobs- helping at a horse fair, assisting with coal deliveries. It was at the horse fair that he watched a small dog boss around a bunch of larger ones, and wondered how it was able to get away with that behavior. He figured out that somehow the little dog was dominant to the others, and going home to the barn, recognized the same kind of behavior among his own dogs. Observing more closely he started to figure out some of the dogs\’ body language, and used it back with them. Some of his ideas I\’d come across before- such as that a lot of dogs don\’t really like being hugged, they interpret an arm around them as threatening- and others I\’m not sure if he accurately interpreted what he saw, but regardless he lived long enough with the dogs to get himself together and eventually return home. That\’s where the book ends. He also managed to face down some of the bullying, and set a few rights in the community (confronting some men who illegally baited badgers, for one thing) but there\’s no explanation of what happened with his schooling. It\’s a pretty good read, though.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 3/5 223 pages, 2014