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That Statue Barked

Sounder, Old Yeller, Old Dan, and Little Ann: children’s literature is littered with corpses of dogs who died too young and made us cry harder than we wanted to.  Luckily, our parents burst into tears, too, which helped distract us from our own sorrow, since they looked so weird crying as they read.

As if that weren’t enough, many literary dogs earn themselves a statue, so in case you ever stroll by the Idaho Falls Public Library in a great mood and run across this statue inspired by Where the Red Fern Grows, or approach Texas’s Mason Public Library humming a happy tune until you see Old Yeller similarly enshrined, you’ll be sure to burst into a fresh bout of tears, no matter how many years have passed since those heartbreaking days of youthful reading.

It’s funny how culpable public libraries are in the formation of so much grief over dead literary dogs, as if we were trying to teach kids that yes, while reading can be fun and rewarding, a book can also rip out your young heart and play t-ball with it before your very eyes. In fact, libraries have such a bad reputation when it comes to children’s books about dogs, I’ve heard of parents who warn their children to walk the other way if they ever see a children’s librarian approaching with a book about a dog.

So, to atone for all the emotional scarring caused by my ilk over the years, I offer up this list of literary dogs who lived long, inspiring lives, which were not defined by untimely and deeply depressing demises. Each of these dogs has its own statue, by the way, although, not surprisingly, none are located at a public library. Read More..