Children’s Book of the Week: The Stray Dog
The Stray Dog by Marc Simont
I have a stray dog fantasy, that one day I’ll find a dog sitting forlornly in our backyard, and he’ll love us and we’ll love him and that will be that. I’d really love to get a dog, but I know that it’s logically a terrible idea right now. But if a dog just sort of walked into the house, well then, that would be different, right?
Once when I was out for a walk, with Henry in the stroller and Eli in the sling, a dog came out of nowhere and just started walking with us. He trotted along side us for close to an hour. I brought him home and called the local vet, who looked up the number on his tag. The dog’s owner was on vacation and the dog was staying with someone near us; when I finally got in touch with that person, he drove to our house and grabbed the dog and angrily stuffed the dog in his truck and drove away. Poor dog! I hope his real owner was nicer. Thus ended the one episode that almost brought my stray dog fantasies to life.
I’m not the only one who has a stray dog fantasy, clearly, since there seems to be an entire subset of children’s literature devoted to the idea, from McDuff Moves In to The Old Woman Who Named Things to the tragically beautiful A Day, A Dog. The last time we went to the library we got The Stray Dog, and it might be my most favorite of all. A family goes on a picnic and finds a stray dog, but they leave it at the park. The next week they go back to the park and are relieved and thrilled to find the dog again. Simple and short, and I love the images of everyone in the family thinking about the dog while they’re supposed to be doing other things (spilling coffee absentmindedly, that kind of thing). A very nice stray dog fantasy if ever there was one.