Stanley the Dog: Dog tales in literature

Join us every Friday in July and August and learn about the Decoda staff’s summer reading plans. Today Stanley the Dog, owner of Gail Hanney, Decoda’s Director, Fund Development, is sharing his summer reading picks.

Currently, Amazon lists more than 70,000 dog book titles. Sounds far-fetched? Not to me.

But I do keep my reading list trim; I ignore all the books on training and problem behaviours and just stick to the classics.

There are plenty for me to choose. Animal tails (sic) are one of the oldest literary genres we know. Aesop wrote 20 fables just about dogs. Dogs guarded gates in Greek mythology and stayed loyal in Homer’s The Odyssey.

By the 19th century, humans became more enlightened. They no longer saw us as beasts but as loyal companions. Those Victorians really got us. They invited us into their homes, onto their laps for portrait sittings and to big parties with hunting themes.

Literature reflected this change in our societal status. Emily Barrett Browning wrote a 21-line poem, To Flush, My Dog. Dogs appeared in novels by Charles Dickens and George Eliot. And Virginia Woolf’s first published essay was an obituary to the family’s dog!

By the 20th and 21st centuries, dogs were the protagonists in novels like Jack London’s The Call of the Wild and White Fang. Nowadays, dogs narrate books like Enzo in Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain. Dogs write books and dogs like me, criticize dogs.

Where are dogs going? Parks, beaches … and new literary heights!

For that, there should be a dedicated Canis genre. Personally, I only ever read dog.

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