Some of literature’s greatest characters are furry and four-legged. If you love books as much as you love canines, the dogs in these classics will make you howl with delight.
Buck, Call of the Wild
Jack London’s classic adventure novel introduced us to this unforgettable pooch. A St. Bernard–Scotch Shepherd mix, Buck is dog-napped from an urban backyard in California and smuggled to Alaska where, as part of a sled dog team, he reawakens his canine instincts and experiences the adventure of a lifetime.
Iditarod Team, Winterdance
A more modern take on the sled dog experience, Gary Paulsen’s Winterdance explores the Iditarod with thrilling journalistic precision. Paulsen appreciates animals and renders his sled team believably on the page, making for a great love story between man and his dogs.
Charley, Travels With Charley: In Search of America
Near the end of his life, John Steinbeck took his dignified standard poodle, Charley, on a cross-country trek to rediscover his nation. Riding shotgun in Steinbeck’s camper, Charley becomes a source of comic bureaucratic frustration at the Canadian border, discovers a distaste for bears in Yellowstone and helps the author to befriend new people the whole journey through.
Marley, Marley and Me
John Grogan’s hilarious, touching memoir introduced the world to Marley, a dog whose chaotic, overzealous behavior leads to mishap upon mishap throughout the book. But this pup’s poor behavior is tempered by his loyalty and family love. Hero to parents of unruly canines the world over, Marley’s place in literary history is secure.
Toto, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
There’s no place like home, but if you have to get lost in an unfamiliar land, it’s best to have a faithful dog at your side. Fortunately, L. Frank Baum gave his heroine, Dorothy, the beloved Toto to help her navigate. Late in the Oz series, Toto even reveals a capacity for speech. If you’ve ever wondered about the inner-workings of a Terrier’s mind, check out The Lost Princess of Oz for Toto’s take on things.
Fang, Harry Potter
In a world filled with frequently terrifying magical creatures, Fang was the big, sweet, canine coward of J.K. Rowling’s magical realm. The perfect companion to Hogwarts groundskeeper, Hagrid, Fang’s bark was worse than his bite. The scariest fate any character suffered at Fang’s paws was being slobbered nearly to death.
Argos, The Odyssey
Homer’s Odyssey gave us one of literature’s first great canine heroes. Argos waits for Odysseus faithfully and is the first one to recognize Odysseus upon return. A great comment on dog loyalty, neither time nor distance can divide man and mutt.
Luath and Bodger, The Incredible Journey
A Labrador Retriever and an English Bull Terrier respectively, these two make up the canine contingent of an animal trio that crosses hundreds of miles of wilderness by themselves in Sheila Burnford’s classic children’s novel. Their daring adventures have been reworked in several Disney film adaptations.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor wrote Shiloh after an emotionally painful encounter with a severely abused dog. The book’s title character, beloved by more than 20 years of elementary school students, is a symbol for second-chance animals everywhere.