There’s nothing like the loyal love of a dog to inspire a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart, whether your canine companion is a snorting pug, energetic terrier, or a drooling mastiff. We love our pups and so we bring you a list of doggie-related tales of epic journeys. Get out your tissues and snuggle your dog close – some of these are real tear-jerkers!
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Jack London tops the list, as pretty much anyone who’s ever written about dogs mentions London’s books as being a an important part of their journey to authorship. The Call of the Wild is a short adventure novel by Jack London published in 1903 and set in Yukon, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The central character of the novel is a dog named Buck, a pampered St. Bernard Scotch Shephard stolen from his pampered life in California and sold to be a sled-dog in Alaska. This story was inspired by Jack London’s own life, born in 1876 in California growing up in California London went to work in a cannery 12-18 hour days at the age of 13, and later became an oyster pirate and a hobo. In 1894 he spent 30 days in a penitentiary for vagrancy, and afterword resolved to get educated and returned to school. At 21 London sailed to Alaska to join the Klondike gold rush. In early 1903, London sold The Call of the Wild to The Saturday Evening Post for $750, and the book rights to Macmillan for $2,000. Macmillan’s promotional campaign propelled it to swift success. The book’s great popularity and success made a reputation for London. First edition Call of the Wild today are listed at an upwards of $25,000.
White Fang by Jack London
White Fang is a companion novel and a thematic mirror to The Call of the Wild . First published as a serial in Outing Magazine, May through October 1906, the story follows a wild wolf-dog’s life being civilized in the Yukon territory during the Klondike Gold Rush. First edition, first printing signed by London are listed at around $3,000.
The Watchers by Dean Koontz
Bestselling author Dean Koontz presents his most terrifying, dramatic and moving novel: From a top secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms; one is a magnificent Golden Retriever of astonishing intelligence, and the other, known as the Outsider, is a hybrid monster of a brutally violent nature. A series of low-budget horror films were also released based on the book. A first edition first printing signed by the author can be nabbed for around $250.
The Incredible Journey by Scottish author Sheila Burnford tells the story of 3 pets as they journey over 300 miles across Canada in search of their owners. Published in 1961, it is considered a children’s book, although Burnford didn’t explicitly write it for children. The Incredible Journey was made into a Disney film in 1963, and later remade as Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey in 1993.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
A classic story of a boy and his two hunting dogs, Where the Red Fern Grows has touched readers for generations. Author Wilson Rawls grew up in Oklahoma and although he always aspired to be a writer, he had little formal education and struggled greatly with spelling and punctuation. Eventually, with the help and encouragement of his wife, he hand wrote the manuscript for Where the Red Fern Grows in three weeks from the memory of previous manuscripts he had burned because he was ashamed of them. The story was picked up by the Saturday Evening Post where it was published in a series titled “The Hounds of Youth”. Doubleday then published the book the same year, changing the name and attempting to market it to adults, although the author had specifically written it for children. When it was published in 1961, initial sales of the book were slow, although today it has sold over seven millions copies and is required reading in many schools.
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
A Newbery Medal Winning book about an abused dog, Shiloh was Naylor’s 65th published book, and the first in a quartet about Shiloh the dog. It tells the tale of an eleven-year-old named Marty who finds an abused beagle out in the woods and cares for it, although his family is too poor to afford a pet.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
Travels with Charley: In Search of America is a travelogue of Steinbeck’s 1960 road trip with his standard french poodle Charley in a specially made camper he named Rocinante after Don Quixote’s horse. Steinbeck bemoans his lost youth and roots, while dispensing both criticism and praise for America. According to Steinbeck’s son Thom, Steinbeck went on the trip because he knew he was dying and wanted to see the country he had written about in such iconic books as The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, one last time.
The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey
The eighth book in the Little Golden series created by Simon & Schuster in 1942, The Poky Little Puppy, is the best-selling children’s book of all time, selling over 15 million copies worldwide. Originally 25 cents, the first editions, first printings are rare. The author, Janette Sebring Lowrey, penned dozens of other books aimed at children and young adults from the 1930s to the 1970s but lived in relative obscurity in Texas throughout her 92 year life.
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
Harry the Dirty Dog was published in 1956. It was written by Gene Zion and illustrated by his wife, Margaret Bloy Graham, who in 2002 added splashes of color the originally black and white picture book. The story is about a dog who doesn’t want a bath, so he hides the scrub brush and runs away, getting so dirty that his family doesn’t recognize him when he returns. Like many old children’s books, it is incredibly hard to find first editions, even in poor condition, as these books were generally cherished to their demise by their young owners.
Dog on It by Spencer Quinn
Dog On It is the first of a dozen books written by the American suspense writer Peter Abrahams under the pen name Spencer Quinn. This mystery is written from the point of view of Chet, Bernie’s canine partner in the Little Detective Agency. There are a dozen other Chet and Bernie mysteries featuring the super-sleuth dog.
A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin
A Dog’s Life is a children’s book by the creator of the Babysitter’s Club series. It is about Squirrel, a stray puppy, who tells her life story; from her nurturing mother and brother to making her own way in the world, facing busy highways, changing seasons, and humans both gentle and brutal. Published in 2005 by Scholastic books, the target audience is grades 4-7.
Fluke by James Herbert
This story, the fourth novel by the international best-selling British horror author James Herbert, is about a dog who remembers his previous life as a man. Published in 1977, it inspired a 1995 film starring Samuel L. Jackson as Rumbo, Fluke’s best friend.
A Dog’s Journey (A Dog’s Purpose, #2) by W. Bruce Cameron
A Dog’s Journey is the sequel to the 2010 bestseller A Dog’s Purpose that spent nearly a year on the best-seller list. When Buddy is reborn as a ‘good dog’ in this book, he finds his purpose taking care of a troubled teenage girl.
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Amy C. Manikowski is a writer living in Asheville, NC.