Children’s Book of the Week: The Stray Dog

by | Apr 20, 2009 | Children's Book of the Week | 3 comments

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.


  1. emily

    ever read Love that Dog? it’s sharon creech, not for tiny kids, but henry will love it at, say, 8-9, whch is the age, I think, of the male narrator – the book is epistolary – well, more like the journal entries of a boy in a class where the teacher is making them do poetry. first is: “I don’t want to / because boys / don’t write poetry / / girls do.” but from this unpromising beginning, of course, springs MUCH beautiful poetry and a really winning character and teacher relationship etc.

    the dog in question is one that was a stray – the poem on January 24th tells how they went to the animal shelter to get him. I always cry in the end of this one. it’ll take you an hour to read. sigh.

  2. Julie

    Oh yes, we have that one too. I’ve read bits of it to Henry, but not all the way through. It always makes me cry too. Is there anything Sharon Creech can’t do?

  3. emily

    curse her, sharon creech. all that AND she gets to travel the world with her prep-school principal husband, have two children, and lovely office (stalked her a little this winter). hmf. not sure she’s as good as patricia mclachlan though (she of sarah plain and tall fame)


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