A list of novels for children who love dogs.
Caesar the War Dog series by Stephen Dando Collins
This series of books tells of the adventures of Caesar, a labrador retriever who works alongside his Australian army handler. The first book in the series is set in Afghanistan.
Stephen Dando Collins was inspired to write the book after hearing of the true story of Sarbi who was an explosives detection dog in the Australian army. She went “Missing in Action” during a battle in 2008. She was found by an American soldier 14 months later who recognised her as a trained military dog and was able to reunite her with her handlers. The author has also used as inspiration the true stories of several other military dogs as well.
The books do require a degree of maturity on the reader’s part, so are recommended for children ten years and older. They explore topics such as warfare, prejudice, disability, grief for family members (human and furred), friendship and loyalty.
2. Shadow the Sheepdog by Enid Blyton
This lovely book tells the story of Shadow, a sheepdog who lives and works on a farm protecting and herding sheep. Shadow is highly intelligent and loyal, and forms a strong bond with Johnny, his young owner.
Each chapter tells of a separate adventure in Shadow’s life. It begins with the story of how Johnny becomes responsible for Shadow. Johnny’s father tries to sell Shadow the puppy several times, but each time Shadow returns to the farm he thinks of as home. Later stories tell how Shadow becomes an invaluable member of the farm yard and family.
Children who are interested in farm animals and dogs will enjoy this story. The book encourages strong values such as loyalty, family, honesty and hard work.
Parents Note: Some of the methods Johnny uses to train Shadow may not be the approved “modern” methods.
3. The 101 Dalmations by Dodie Smith
What list of dogs books for children could be complete with out 101 Dalmations! This classic was turned into the Disney film of the same name.
The novel includes far more detail than the film however. The book tells the story of the Dearly family. Their litter of Dalmation puppies are stolen by the evil Cruella de Vil who intends to take their beautiful fur and turn them into a coat. Then the race is on to rescue the puppies and for the puppies to rescue themselves.
4. Emma’s Story by Sheila Hocken
This novel tells the story from the point of view of Emma, a labrador puppy. She is chosen for guide dog training and the book details her journey as she is trained to become a guide dog.
This book would suit any child wanting to gain an insight into dog behaviours, or to better understand guidedogs or dog training. Author Sheila Hocken wrote the book based on her own guide dog, Emma. A beautiful story.
5. Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O’Dell
This book by award winning author Scott O’Dell tells the story of Bright Dawn and her dog Black Star as they attempt to complete the Iditarod – a gruelling and long distance dog sled race of over 1,000 miles across Alaska.
In previous books Scott O’Dell’s female characters have been strong, gritty and intelligent, and this is no exception. Bright Dawn takes the place of her father in the Iditarod after he is injured in a hunting accident.
There are many themes in this book, including family relationships, spirituality, survival, morality, personal identity, the meaning of true sportsmanship and superstition.