Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Dogs in Literature…revisited!



There is much (too much) excitement in the Harvey household just now. We are expanding our family with a new addition! That’s her in the above photo, the little one on the right with the white toes already a model at four weeks old. She has no name yet because we cannot agree on just the right one.

I searched through the dusty recesses of the Vulpes Libris storeroom and found this post we did in back in 2008 – Dogs in Literature. Being a den full of animal lovers, I remember it clearly being one we were very excited about. So I figured, since currently I get to sleep by running possible puppy names through my mind, it would be a great time to revisit the subject and pick a few new ones.


Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates

Dog Loves BooksHow could I not love this book? Dog has a bookshop, but it’s a bit short of customers. That doesn’t bother Dog so much because he is surrounded by his most favourite things in the world…books!

This is a wonderful book championing the glory of vanishing into a book and experiencing adventures in the pages. As an introduction to the joy of book-loving it’s fabulous. I love Dog’s expressions when he’s waiting, especially when he’s slumped with his face on the desk. I’m sure I’ve pulled that move more than once.


(The guy trapped in Waterstones this week could have read this while he waited!)

Here’s a video of a reading…

Dog Loves Books


One Dog and his Boy by Eva Ibbotson

This is unfortunately the last of Eva Ibbotson’s wonderful books as she sadly died in 2010. As one of the best loved writers of children’s literature this is an outstanding novel for 9-12 year old readers. Hal desperately wants a dog, but his parents absolutely will not allow it. He lives a solitary life in a very posh, very perfect house with his absent father and OCD mother. Hal is well looked after but not very well cared for. His parents reach a new low however when they present him with a dog hoping he’ll get tired of it by the end of the weekend…because it’s RENTED and has to go back. (*wants to do very bad things to his parents*) Hal and Fleck the dog are of course made for each other and circumstances conspire to keep them together.

An amazing adventure ensues with loads of doggy awesomeness, a travelling circus, an orphanage full of kids and a wonderful resolution for everyone. It is, as expected, beautifully written but also beautifully illustrated by Sharon Rentta. This is one of those kids books you hope will be passed from generation to generation. I would love to see my grandchildren reviewing it (in a few decades time, obviously!) as one of their childhood favourites.


The Ultimate Encyclopaedia of Dogs, Dog Breeds and Dog Care by Dr Peter Larkin

Sadly this book appears to be out of print, but my daughter has carried it around with her since she was about eight years old. It is so totally loved that it is dog eared and falling to pieces. However, she still loves it as much today as she did then and since there appears to be zero novels for teenagers these days about dogs, I would go for non-fiction instead. There are some wonderful dictionaries, encyclopaedias and also narrative non-fiction for older dog lovers. For instance Marley and Me or my daughter’s favourite A Dog Year by Jon Katz.

Backlist novel teen choices could possibly include Plague Dogs by Richard Adams…but this completely traumatised me as a child I do remember having some vivid nightmares about it! Any other teen suggestions would be most welcome though, if there are some out there I’ve overlooked.



Also welcome are name suggestions for this little lady who will come to live with us on the 5th November. She’s a fox red Labrador so I wanted to call her Fawkes. Unfortunately the kids are old enough now to veto and Fawkes and Thistle have both been thrown out. As has Ruby, Finn, any Scottish Island name, all “doggish” names and many human ones. Fife might still be in the running…today. Who would have thought naming a dog would be so difficult?! Send me your favourite dogs in literature names, please!


About Eve Harvey

Eve Harvey is a bookaholic. She is forever to be found with her nose in a book. If there are none around then newspapers, magazines, the back of cereal packets, road signs or the tiny washing labels found on the seams of jumpers will do. Eve used to have full time job as a children's bookseller and she was the very first Waterstone's Children's Expert Bookseller in Scotland. Her first love was definitely literature for children and teens, about which she has nerd-level knowledge. However she has since become involved in grown-up books and has co-written her first adult novel with Cath Murphy. Eve and Cath Podcast, blog and have far too much fun on their website Domestic Hell. Eve lives in a field just outside Edinburgh in Scotland with her daughter and son and two dogs and two rabbits. She also has some tanks of tropical fish and vows one day to start up a marine aquarium. And the day she signs her very first publishing deal she is going to celebrate by buying a pair of Horsefields tortoises. You can find Eve through her Agent, Ella Kahn at DKW Literary Agency. She's also on Twitter or on her website :

5 comments on “Dogs in Literature…revisited!

  1. Heather
    October 18, 2014

    My children have each laughed hysterically at the book I, Jack, by Jack Perry as told to Patricia Finney. It is one of our family’s go to favorites for that period of transition to chapter books.

  2. Jackie
    October 18, 2014

    I was disturbed by “Plague Dogs” too and I was an adult when I read it. It would’ve been much worse had I been younger. Is “Lassie Come Home” a kid book or tween? That was my favorite when i was growing up. That dog breed book looks good, so I can see why you’d recommend that one & Jon Katz has a bunch on nonfiction about dogs. I refuse to read “Marley & Me” since I found out about the sad ending.
    Your new little puppy is adorable! Hope you find the perfect name for her very soon.

  3. gertloveday
    October 18, 2014

    I now she isn’t a dog, but I;ve always thought “Unn” would be a good name for a dog after “Unn the deep-minded” in the Norse sagas. (Not that Labradors are very deep-minded).

  4. Eve Harvey
    October 21, 2014

    Ha…Labradors are definitely not deep minded, but I like the thought🙂 I think Lassie is suitable for every age Jackie! I never read the books but loved the televisions series. It’s fabulous how we all have our favourites!

    Puppy is to be called Scarlett. It lends itself to all sorts of cute shortened versions and has the added bonus of sounding quite grown up for when she’s a big dog.

  5. ABB
    November 1, 2014

    On the subject of dogs, though in visual arts rather than literature, I recommend “Dogs in the Louvre” by Francois Nourissier and Elisabeth Foucart-Walter, If you’ve ever had the good fortune to spend any time in the Louvre (or other major art galleries), it’s fascinating to observe how often dogs appear in artworks, sometimes as a central figure, but more often to the side. This book discusses 41 artworks, mostly paintings, which have dogs prominently displayed. It discusses the iconography of dogs, such as greyhounds as symbols of power and royalty, and spaniels as symbols of faithfulness. In literature, the idea of faithfulness dominates, “Lassie” perhaps being the best-known example. Perhaps there’s a blog post lurking here on comparing and contrasting representations of dogs in different forms of creative works?🙂

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This entry was posted on October 18, 2014 by in Entries by Eve, Fiction: children's.



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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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