The Ways Books Lied to Me About Dog Ownership

We never had dogs when I was a kid, so most of what I’ve learned about dog ownership over the years has been from books. Now that I’ve been a dog owner for just over a year, I’ve discovered how misleading some of these stories are.

Here are a few notable examples:




You can change the size of your dog if you just wish hard enough.


I’m constantly wishing my large dog will suddenly shrink to a size that fits in my lap. She remains huge.

where the red fern growsWhere the Red Fern Grows


Given the opportunity, your dog will save you from a savage wild animal.


My dog has attempted, on more than one occasion, to save me from my own reflection in the glass of our back door.

call of the wildThe Call of the Wild


Drawn to the wilderness, your dog could lead a wolf pack.


My dog doesn’t even seem to understand the rudiments of canine communication, let alone possess the ability to lead other dogs. This is exemplified by the fact that when another dog takes an obvious dislike to her, she believes it has become her new BFF.

peter panPeter Pan


Your dog can look after children as effectively as an adult human does, including tucking them into bed at night.


My dog is generally afraid of children, seeming not to understand what these strange hairless puppies are.

dog thoughts

The Adventures of Tintin


Your dog has a complex inner monologue.


My dog appears to have an inner monologue more like that of the dog from Hyperbole and a Half (see right).

dog loves books

Dog Loves Books


Your dog can share your love of books.


My dog is indifferent to books. This is actually a good thing in the end, as the objects she is not indifferent to end up torn into tiny pieces that are then spit out onto one of her many beds. Even so, I prefer to think of her this way:

Still, I prefer to think of her this way.

Liz Gillett


2 thoughts on “The Ways Books Lied to Me About Dog Ownership

  1. Jeff says:

    Yeah, my dog barks at nothing. We’ll just be sitting there, and “woof!” For no reason. And she frequently comes running in the back door, whimpering like Freddy Krueger is after her.

    Never really thought about how dogs are misrepresented in literature, though. Good points. Film is even worse.


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