Great Dog Characters in Books for Readers of all Ages

Can dog characters from books be among those we remember fondly? Yes, and many fictional stories or memoirs have four-legged characters who left memorable paw-prints on the minds and hearts of readers of ALL AGES.

Here is my list of FIVE great dog characters from fiction and non-fiction books.

1. An all-time favorite: Agatha Christie’s “Dumb Witness: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

I don’t know if it was Bob’s intelligence, the wire fox terrier, his never-ending attachment towards his mistress… or the surprisingly warmhearted side that Hercule Poirot revealed in this detective novel. But this doggo story tops my list. What an amazing canine among all the other book characters!

Bob and Hercule Poirot in the movie adaptation of Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie
Bob and David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in the 1996 movie adaptation of Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie

All dog owners know just how much their canine friends can communicate with them, and how much they understand too. Perhaps it is because of this that I love this tale so much. The assumption that if the dog, Bob, could tell his story, he could actually narrate everything that happened!

There are a few differences between the book and the movie though, such as the location, the time when the action takes place, and, best (and I wish they would have kept this satisfying detail in the movie), who gets to keep Bob in the end! 🙂

What is certain is that whenever I read this book my faith in the humans’ love and understanding towards animals is restored.

2. The miraculous one: Kika & Me: How One Extraordinary Guide Dog Changed My World by Dr Amit Patel

This is an incredible story of what happened after a rare condition casued Amit Patel, who worked as a trauma doctor, to loose his eyesight within 36 hours.

I think this is the kind of terrifying experience none wishes to be faced with. But as anything in life, the question that rises is how we deal with it? The answer here is Kika, a rather suborn guide-dog.

3. The lesser known one: Flush, a Biography by Virginia Woolf

Flush was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Cocker Spaniel who had an adventurous life, yet he always seemed to find that silver lining. Flush could always “light tomorrow with today.”

Nasty maids, changing masters, fighting mid-19th century gangs, roaming the English countryside as a free dog before attaching himself to his new, young mistress to the point where he even resented Robert Browning – this is a delightful, satisfying read, especially for a Virginia Wolf book. Flush takes center stage in this novelette, but the reader will still catch glimpses at Elizabeth Browning’s life – from the dog’s point of view.

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

4. The one about the War Dog: Joyful Trouble, Based on the True Story of a Dog Enlisted in the Royal Navy by Patricia Furstenberg

When a Great Dane arrives in a Navy base nobody expects him to win everybody’s hearts, while breaking (many) rules along the way.

Honestly, this one books I had the most fun writing!

Joyful Trouble tells the story of Just Nuisance, the only dog ever enlisted in the Royal Navy. Just Nuisance was a Great Dane that served in HMS Afrikander, a shore establishment in Simon’s Town, South Africa, between 1939 and 1944.

Just Nuisance was a pup of only one year old when his owner was put in charge of the United Services Institute in Simon’s Town. It was here, and now, when Nuisance first came in contact with the sailors. Since the mariners fed and played with him, the doggo considered anyone wearing a sailor’s uniform to be a friend. Wouldn’t you? Yet Just Nuisance was a clever dog, and a fast learner too… from taking the train with his sailor’s friends… to entering the Navy.

dog book characters, Joyful Trouble

Free to read with Kindle Unlimited across all Amazon platforms.

Included in the Prime Reading program on Amazon.com from 1-Sep-2021 to 1-Dec-2021.

(click on the image)

5. The one I still want to read: How Stella Learned to Talk by Christina Hunger

This is a memoir written by a speech therapist who used some of the methods she applied in her everyday work to help her better communicate with her pet dog, as well as to understand her dog’s needs! How amazingly clever is that?

And the dogs from children’s story books?

I have vivid recollections of growing up reading a lime-green book about a Dachshund named Fridolin, “a happy story for children”, written by German author Franz Caspar. It was a heart-warming tale about a little dog with a brave heart. (I still have this book).

Fridolin by Franz Caspar
Fridolin by Franz Caspar

But stories are meant to be passed on from one generation to the next and it works both ways! How else will they survive? My daughter introduced me to Timmy, George’s mongrel from “The Famous Five” by Enid Blyton. Timmy’s a much loved dog, especially by his owner, and he gets to save the children from terrible fates.

My son preferred Scamper, Peter and Janet’s dog, loyal to the “Secret Seven”, a series also by Enid Blyton. Scamper loves all children. Good to know you’ve got a wagging tail always there for you.

I don’t know where Little Tail came from. I suppose I should know, since I wrote about him in my first ever book, “Happy Friends”. I guess he just grew in my heart, his story spinning out of the lives of all the dogs I met and loved throughout my life. I just had to create a dog and put him in a book among other lovable characters! Little Tail is pretty much a do-er and a dream-er; a dog of contrasts. He’s small in size, but has the courage of a lion. He’s curious, yet cautious as he won’t easily venture outside his comfort zone. But above all Little Tail is a devoted friend (true to his canine nature).

You might also reading:

Dogs, Man’s Best Friend, as Illustrated by Art, From Once Upon a Time to the 20th Century

(This is an update of a blog post first published on 21/10/2016)

Which are your most loved book dog heroes?

29 Replies to “Great Dog Characters in Books for Readers of all Ages”

  1. There are a lot of good dogs in the history of man’s best friend. How fortunate we are that some of them had talented masters who made them characters in their stories. I had a good dog as well. 🙂 You may remember that I wanted at some point to send you pictures and snippets of his story hoping that you’d write about him. I still want to do that. 🙂

  2. Oh, yes they are. Luckily for us 🙂

    Jo, I remember very well. And you do have my email address. 🙂

    I’m reading Tess Gerritsen now, the Rizzoli & Isles book series (nothing like the TV series except for the main characters). I’m at book #7, Ice Cold, and there’s this amazing doggo!! 🙂 The story would have been poorer without him.

  3. what a great idea for a blog post; nice to see all of these great stories featuring a dog in one place. one book that comes to mind for me is Marley and Me, which was also made into a movie…

  4. I’m totally engrossed in The Castilian Hawk (on your recommendation), Oh but where would Noor be were it not for Gawain – a big, lumbering dog!
    This is a wonderful collection and more for my To-Read List. Poirot at the top!.

    1. I am honored to hear that, Miss Judy 🙂

      Oh, Dumb Witness is such an incredible book to read. I’d say one of Christie’s best. And in places it differs from the movie,so there;s still some surprise factor in its pages. 😉

  5. I really enjoyed your recommendations of dogs’ stories, Patricia, and think that your “Nuisance” also shows the reader that it may be dangerous to believe that, if some of a category are good that all of them are soooo too!
    Very best regards:)

  6. Dog stories make great reads. May I suggest another. Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog. It is about an akita that waited for nine years in the same spot outside a Tokyo metro station for his deceased master to return. Thanks for sharing your list.

  7. Always wanted a dog when I was a child but my father didn’t like pets. Now that I’ve raised a child, I’m too tired to have a pet. Haha! Thanks for reviving several childhood memories with this post, Patricia. 🙂

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