Mr. Dog

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
88 Pages
Reviewed on 01/24/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Mr. Dog by Sam Wade is the tale of two dogs from different sides of the tracks. Ms. Goodrich, a retired schoolteacher in Warm Springs, befriends Mr. Dog, a stray pup who can communicate telepathically. Meanwhile, the rich Mrs. Hilton is shocked to hear that her darling Pomeranian, Penelope, has become unfashionable. She determines that this situation can be fixed the same way as life's other issues: through plastic surgery. Ms. Goodrich, in violation of a no-dog rule in her apartment block, attempts to assert her dominance over Mr. Dog, who is not having it. Mr. Dog and Penelope escape, but life on the streets ends when they are apprehended, soon learning that the Humane Society is not so humane. Rejected by adopters, they face impending euthanasia as the dreaded sixth day looms. Escaping again seems impossible, but even if they can, the uphill battle for survival will have only just begun.

It takes quite a lot for a story to surprise me at this point, but Mr. Dog by Sam Wade did exactly that, over and over again. The author's brilliance lies in his ability to introduce unexpected twists and reversals. The ending is probably the craziest example of this, but another is the initial hero status bestowed upon one of the human characters, only for the situation to dramatically shift. Wade injects dark humor and satire throughout the story but amps them up with symbolism and allegorical elements, like Mr. Roper as a symbolic representation of the Hangman or Devil. It shows intelligence in the wit of an already thoughtful tale, transcending the surface level of the plot. Wade takes readers on a ride that proves to be an emotional rollercoaster, teasing us with despair and then hope, only to force us around again. Nobody will ever be able to accuse Wade of being unskilled at connecting readers with the characters. Readers should have a box of tissues handy. Very highly recommended.

Joe Wisinski

Mr. Dog by Sam Wade is the story of an anthropomorphic dog, not a fancy breed, but a mutt. He lives on his own on the streets of Warm Springs. A kindly woman gives him a couple of treats and he relentlessly pursues her home. But dogs aren’t allowed in her development and she has to give him to a shelter, from which he’s adopted by a family with another dog. Together they escape but are captured and scheduled to be euthanized. But they escape again using a clever trick and travel together to try to get back to Warm Springs. Throughout the story, readers are in the dog’s head, so they know his thoughts and understand his words and meaning when he barks, growls, or whines.

The author of Mr. Dog, Sam Wade, has a wonderfully creative imagination. I liked being in the dog’s head and understanding the meaning of the typical dog sounds. Also, I rejoiced with Mr. Dog when things were going well for him and felt sorry for him when they weren’t. The ability to make readers feel a character’s emotions is a rare one, but one which this author possesses. Best of all, readers will feel compassion for the dogs, especially Mr. Dog himself, and have a greater understanding of the plight of homeless animals. The book is also a powerful indictment against the practice of euthanizing healthy animals because we can see that the animals understand what’s going to happen to them. Readers should be aware that this is not a children’s book. There is threatened and actual violence and also the deaths of animals.

Pikasho Deka

Sam Wade's Mr. Dog is a short story about the life of a six-month-old stray puppy. New to Warm Springs, Ms. Goodrich, a schoolteacher, comes across a stray mutt on the sidewalk of a busy street. She offers the poor dog some treats, and it ends up following her to her apartment, much to the chagrin of her neighbor. Meanwhile, Ms. Goodrich's building manager has imposed a strict no-dog policy, which forces her to put the puppy, Mr. Dog, up for adoption. After an escalating chain of events, a certain Mrs. Hilton from New Plains -- a city half a world away from Warm Springs -- becomes the new owner of Mr. Dog. But after Mrs. Hilton's shocking murder, Mr. Dog and his new companion, Penelope, a Pomeranian, embark on a dangerous quest for freedom that offers no guarantee of safety.

Part satire and part tragicomedy, Mr. Dog is an absorbing novella with some biting social commentary. Sam Wade spins an enthralling tale that makes you laugh, breaks your heart, and leaves you with a bittersweet ending you will think about for a long time. The narrative captivates from the very beginning with a plot as unpredictable as it is compelling. All the characters have exaggerated traits that shape their personalities, and it makes Wade's social commentary all the more impactful. The author perfectly captures the psyche of a dog and manages to make Mr. Dog's plight not only sympathetic but, at times, relatable to the reader. As someone with pets, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't recommend it highly enough.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

Sam Wade begins his book, Mr. Dog, with a two-sided interaction between a woman, Ms. Goodrich, and a six-month-old dog. She produces treats, and wanting more, the dog follows her to her residence. Ms. Goodrich's landlord does not favor dogs, and an ordinance in her building prohibits canines, so she's forced to take Mr. Dog to a facility that re-homes dogs to other parts of the world. Mrs. Hilton has just learned that her trendy, pure-bred dog is outdated, and after a botched surgery to "improve" her Pomeranian, she adopts a mixed-breed dog. Her dog, Penelope, and Mr. Dog find themselves in a series of circumstances that cause them to play dead, dodge rapidly moving traffic, and go on an adventure that may lead them to unprotected garbage cans filled with food and streets where dogs can roam freely or to their doom.

Sam Wade's method of storytelling relates the sad life of a stray dog. Even though there are moments of hilarity, Wade shows his readers the outcome of confinement, rules against pets, and hazards that well-meaning citizens put in the path of innocent animals. I found the story moving when viewed from an animal's perspective, and the human race seems selfish as they seek to control the behavior of canines without respecting their instincts. Animal lovers will despair over euthanasia and the unnecessary risks animals face as they try to satisfy their basic needs. Wade's well-planned tale almost demands a call to action, and I feel this story could be used to illustrate the need for change. Readers who enjoy action and adventure from an animal's perspective will love Mr. Dog.

Alex Ndirangu

Warm Springs is a great place to be, and Mr. Dog, a stray six-month-old mutt, couldn't agree more. The food is delicious, and if you know where to find it as he does, there's much of it. One morning, Mr. Dog wakes up to the yummiest of treats from a stranger. Ms. Goodrich seems to be a kind and sweet lady, and Mr. Dog can't resist following her to her apartment for more treats. But things take a turn when Mr. Dog gets kicked out by the building's management, and he is adopted half a world away from Warm Springs. There, tragedy strikes, thrusting Mr. Dog into a quest for freedom away from the confines of human civilization. Just how far will he go? You'll have to read Sam Wade's Mr. Dog to find out.

Whether you are 10 or older, read and enjoy this delightful book. With enchanting, impressively well-developed characters, thrilling adventures, and a tale of profound emotions, Mr. Dog will captivate and resonate deeply with you. Sam Wade perfectly blends real-life situations that are sad but infinitely hopeful with suspenseful twists and gripping action that'll leave you at the edge of your seat. It's a relentless ride from the first chapter on. The author's world-building skill exhibits uniqueness and originality, adding to the reader's overall investment and immersion. I could visualize Mr. Dog and Penelope rummaging through the dumpster, sniffing and searching. In other extreme situations, I wanted to dive in and burst the sealed kitchen trash cans for the two, only to remember that it was just a story Mr. Dog offers more than a tale about a fun and adorable puppy searching for peace and safety. It's a story that gives great insight into the animal psyche, encourages resilience and bravery in times of difficulty, and asks deeply profound questions about what it means to be home. I found this book to be a gem that will help people see animals for the magnificent creatures they are and encourage hugging their pets a little tighter.