You *were* traumatized by Old Yeller, right?

Because all right-thinking people agree that dogs shouldn’t die at the end, yes? Did you notice how in the (fabulous, beautiful) movie UP, not a single dog died? Because even the bad-guy dogs got little parachutes? Naturally, because dogs shouldn’t die even if you drop the human bad guy to his death without a qualm.

So! Heidi Frederick says something of the same thing over at tor. com, in her column about SPIRIT’S KEY by Edith Cohn.

Spirit’s Key is the poignant tale of both a girl coming into her family power and her relationship with a much beloved dog. Edith Cohn’s solution to the much feared dying dog issue? Bump him off before the book even begins — genius!

In other words, a ghost dog! I agree, that sounds like a clever touch.

spirits key

Heidi doesn’t declare this MG title is flawless, but she does declare that it’s charming — and that there’s no need to worry about the dog. I’m sure I would have loved this story when I was a kid. I probably would have liked it’s possibly oversweet ending, in fact.

My favorite MG dog story: DOG’SBODY by DWJ. Also my favorite story by DWJ. I still can’t believe you can cram the Wild Hunt, sentient stars, and a dog story all in the same short book and have it work, but DWJ managed.

I also like this note from Heidi at the end of her post: Heidi Frederick is known to dock one star rating for every dead dog. Sky didn’t count. Read more at her blog, Bunbury in the Stacks, or send cute dog pictures to her on Twitter.

She doesn’t know how many cute dog pictures I have available, though!

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5 thoughts on “You *were* traumatized by Old Yeller, right?”

  1. I adore DOGSBODY, but the dog still dies at the end. At least, Katherine believes he does, and we see her weep for him. I’m still going to reread it next time I get a chance, though, so thanks for the reminder.

    (You are responsible for FAR too many books on my TBR or TBRR stacks, by the way. I just finished the new Robin Hobb book so now I can move on to the Chanur reread, but I might take a break for some Mary Stewart Gothics first.)

  2. Good God, you’re right! Not that he *really* dies, but closer than I was thinking. Ouch!

    Hah hah hah! Twitter is doing that to me. I ignore most book recommendations, but if someone whose taste I know I share talks up a title, well . . .

  3. Ann Downer’s middle-grade THE DRAGON OF NEVER-WAS features a centuries-old ghost dog. He is a very appealing animal character. Although it’s not as original as Downer’s wonderful SPELLKEY trilogy, the series (starting with HATCHING MAGIC) is very enjoyable and I’m peeved that the publisher chose to cancel it two books into a trilogy!

  4. Awe, thanks for the post, Rachel! It’s horrible, but I have YET to read Dogsbody! I suggested it as a bookclub read one month but nobody took me up on it because they were too worried about dog trauma. Turns out I’m not the only one. :P

    Also LOVE the observation about the parachutes in UP!

  5. Cheryl, come to think of it, Dean Koontz also includes a ghost dog in his Odd Thomas series. He shows up for the first time in Brother Odd, I think — which coincidentally is also my favorite of the Odd Thomas series, AND stands alone just in case anybody wants to read it without committing to the whole series.

    Stopping two books into a trilogy should be illegal. It must count as at least a venal sin.

    Heidi, really? Don’t let yourself be scared off by any comments that technically the dog does kind of die. It’s a great book and definitely not too traumatic.

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