National Dog Day: Celebrating the Special Relationship between People and Their Pooches

Aug 26, 2022 | Posted by Jennifer

It’s been said that the dog is man’s best friend. This aphorism has certainly been born out in classic literature. August 26 marks National Dog Day, a day to celebrate our special relationships with the dogs in our own lives. This blog post looks at literature and the pups that populate the pages of some classic works. As you read over the list, think about other possible additions of famous literary pooches.

  • Snoopy from Peanuts: Charles M. Schultz’s intelligent beagle has even been known to write his own novels and has frequently been pictured atop his dog house pecking away on his typewriter.
  • Balto: This real life hero was a Siberian Husky who led a team of sled dogs to Nome, Alaska, to deliver life-saving medicine to stop a diphtheria outbreak. He has since been memorialized in books as well as movies.
  • Buck from Jack London’s Call of the Wild: In this novel the dog, through a series of traumatic experiences, gradually returns to the wildness of his ancestors.
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog: Author Norman Bridwell’s lovable massive dog has charmed children ever since the first book was published in 1963.
  • Winn-Dixie from Because of Winn-Dixie: This sweet story, written by Kate DiCamillo, celebrates the love between a dog and a child. Eventually the tale was turned into a movie by the same name.
  • Toto from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: L. Frank Baum’s heroine Dorothy and her little pooch Toto travel by tornado to Oz, a fantastical place filled with wonders and perils that are far from their beloved Kansas home.
  • Old Yeller: Fred Gipson’s dog from the titular novel will tug at your heartstrings.
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes has his hands full dispelling the rumor that a supernatural dog is haunting the moors. This is definitely not a warm and cuddly beast, but it’s famous nonetheless.
  • Tock from The Phantom Tollbooth: This whimsical novel composed by Norton Juster features a boy named Milo who learns about time from Tock, a dog with an alarm clock for a body. 
  • Pilot from Jane Eyre: While not a central character in Charlotte Brontë’s Gothic novel, Rochester’s big black and white dog is devoted to his master and appears at his side throughout the narrative.
  • Old Dan and Little Ann from Where the Red Fern Grows: Wilson Rawls, who grew up in the Ozarks, crafted a moving coming-of-age story also set in the Ozarks about a boy named Billy and his two Redbone Coonhounds.

These are just a few of the famous canines who appear in literature. There are many others. Can you think of some more?

Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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