Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Guard Dog

The Guard Dog

Dick King-Smith
For ages 6 to 8
Random House UK, 2006   ISBN: 0552554332

In a pet shop window there are six puppies. Five of them belong to recognizable breeds; there is a pug, a poodle, a springer spaniel, an English sheepdog, and a Labrador. The sixth dog is so small and so hairy that he looks more like a guinea pig than a dog. The pedigree puppies turn up their noses at the “mongrel” and make fun of him.

One day the puppies are discussing what they are going to be when they grow up. The Labrador is going to be a guide dog; the pug is going to be a spoiled lap dog; the springer is going to be a hunting dog; the English sheepdog is going to herd sheep; and the poodle is going to be a show dog. The little mixed breed proudly announces that he is going to be a guard dog, which makes all the other dogs laugh a great deal, until the little dog barks. What a noise he makes! How can such a terrible and very loud noise come out of such a very small animal?

The very next day a lady and little girl come into the shop and the little girl decides that she wants to take the little guard dog puppy home with her, even though it is suggested that she should perhaps choose a different puppy.

For a while all goes well, though the guard dog does not understand why his people take exception to his chewing and piddling. Then he barks at the family cat, the house cleaner, and other people, and his new owners decide that they cannot share their home with an animal that makes so much noise. The poor little guard dog with the dreadful voice is taken to a dog shelter and is left there. He is in the place where dogs who are “failures” end up, and he cannot understand why. He did his job. He guarded people to the best of his ability and yet here he is.

Dog lovers of all ages (and non-dog lovers too for that matter) are going to love this feel-good tale. Children will quickly get caught up in the story of the very little dog with the very horrible voice, and they will hope against hope that someone will save the little fellow.