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Alpha Dog

Alpha Dog

4.4 11
by Jennifer Ziegler

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Seventeen-year old Katie isn’t used to being in control. Her mother drives her crazy with her constant criticism and advice, and her boyfriend of two years just destroyed her whole world by dumping her on her birthday. It’s just as well that Katie’s headed to a summer program at the University of Texas in Austin–at least there, she can get over


Seventeen-year old Katie isn’t used to being in control. Her mother drives her crazy with her constant criticism and advice, and her boyfriend of two years just destroyed her whole world by dumping her on her birthday. It’s just as well that Katie’s headed to a summer program at the University of Texas in Austin–at least there, she can get over Chuck at her own pace. But Austin holds its own challenges–like Christine, a cooler-than-thou roommate whose rocker boyfriend is permanently camped out on the couch. When Christine drags Katie to the city pound to check out a potential pet, it’s Katie who’s mesmerized by a pair of brown doggie eyes. Before she can think it through, she’s standing out on the curb with her adorable new dog, Seamus.

There’s only one problem: Seamus is a holy terror. He chews up the apartment, barks maniacally, terrorizes their landlady’s cat, and seems destined to keep the cutest guy in their building at arm’s length. When Katie takes Seamus in for obedience training, she’s told, “You have to be the alpha dog.”

The alpha dog. The head of the pack. Katie has never wielded much power before, but she finds that being top dog can be addictive. Soon she’s acting the alpha dog in every phase of her life, and nothing will ever be the same.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Cindy L. Carolan
A partial lyric by the Monkees at the beginning of the book sets the tone for this stupendous first novel: "I'm gonna buy me a dog, 'cause I need a friend now." Nothing could ring more true for Katie, who has just been dumped by her boyfriend (on her birthday, nonetheless), is desperately trying to slip out of the tight fisted grasp of her oh, so controlling mother, and wants to get on with her life somewhat independently at a pre-college summer program in a shared off-campus apartment. She never would have been able to foresee that her roommate with dual personalities, Christine, would talk her into going to the animal shelter and that Katie, not Christine, would be the one to walk out with a dog! The cover photograph is hysterical (a wild-eyed dog either dragging the person attempting to walk it or BEING dragged by said person) and communicates the emotional roller coaster Katie experiences effectively. This is the author's first novel and a very refreshing one for young adults, as it refrains from the inclusion of superfluous profanity, sex scenes, and violence, but is laugh producing and identifiable in the situations provided (boyfriends and their bandmates crashing on the sofas, one's food being scarfed without permission, etc.) Highly recommended.
From the Publisher
"Zippy and full of wit, Ziegler's work is engaging, touching and full of laughs.”–Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars and author of Rats Saw God

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
638 KB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Alpha Dog

By Jennifer Ziegler

Random House

Jennifer Ziegler
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0385732856

Chapter One


I vaguely remember coming home from the restaurant. Mom didn't have to worry about my driving. I was in such a state of shock that I puttered down the streets like a stoned septuagenarian.

The rest of the day I spent sitting on the floor of my bedroom with the door locked and the CD mix Chuck made for me playing on my stereo, cranked up just enough to cover the sounds of my crying but not enough to bring Mom pounding on my door.

Everything Chuck had ever given me was spread around me in a semicircle. The first note he'd ever passed me ("Pick you up at 8. Dress hot."); ticket stubs from the first film we ever saw together (a Halloween rerelease of The Blair Witch Project); a couple of dried-up flowers; bells and ribbons from his homecoming mums; a few Shiner Beer bottle caps from the night we shared our first major kiss; and a picture of us taken at Leigh Ann Shaw's New Year's Eve party.

I ran my finger over the glossy photograph, staring at it intently. Chuck's arms were hanging over both of my shoulders, his eyes were half closed, and there was this big openmouthed smile on his face. The purple San Marcos Rattlers sweatshirt he was wearing in the shot was draped over me now, a keepsake from one of the best nights of my life.

I remember that was one of the very few times my mom had let me stay out pastmidnight, and it was a good thing, too. Chuck had drunk so much trash-can punch he ended up hurling all over Leigh Ann's rosebushes. I sat beside him the whole time and he kept saying, "I love you, Katie. I really love you," over and over.

I threw the photo down and used a sleeve of the sweatshirt to wipe my eyes. The seam in the left armpit was ripped open, and there was a big greasy mark across the front, but I didn't care. It was still one of the most favorite things I owned. Chuck had worn it the night he said he loved me. It was the only time he'd said it, but I'd felt sure he really meant it--as if all that alcohol had crumbled his macho image for a few hours and his true feelings had been exposed. And now this?

I picked up the phone and called Ariel's cell number. After the third ring Ariel's breathy voice came over the line. "Hello?"

"Ariel, it's Katie," I croaked shakily. "You aren't going to believe this. But Chuck broke up with me. He's going out with Trina!"

"Um . . . yeah. We heard."

We? "Is everyone over there?"

"Yeah. Tracy and Bethany are here."

"Are you guys having a party?"

There was a pause. "Um, yeah. At my lake house. We kind of figured you wouldn't want to go, since Chuck's going to be here and everything."

"But it's my last night before I leave. Don't you guys want to hang out?"

"That's probably not a good idea. You need some time to get over this and all."

A cold realization tingled over me, from scalp to toenails. They were squeezing me out. They knew I was down, so they were distancing themselves.

I knew the drill. I was damaged goods. As long as I was the topic du jour, people had to avoid me or risk mucking up their own reputations. They probably knew about Chuck and Trina before I did, and no one wanted to tell me. They just automatically aligned themselves with Trina, who was more popular and powerful, leaving me to rot by myself.

"But . . . it's my birthday," I mumbled morosely.

Another pause. "Yeah . . . sorry. Um, maybe we can come by tomorrow morning and see you before you leave?"

A familiar laugh sounded in the background-- a high-pitched cackle, like an incredibly chipper tree monkey. "Is that Trina?" I asked, choking on the name.

Another, longer silence. I could almost feel the guilt oozing through the phone line. For a few seconds, I considered screaming at Ariel to put the bitch on the phone and then hurling obscenities at Trina until I passed out from exhaustion. But I didn't. I couldn't.

I knew from experience that it was better to roll belly-up and play dead than to stand up to the so- cial forces of San Marcos. Besides, it just wasn't in me to square off against Trina and her loud cheerleader mouth.

If only I was more like Mom. She was always taking a stand--always starting petitions against rezoning or convincing the school board not to allow off-campus lunches (yep, that really made me popular). Even Dad was known to write an occasional letter to the editor. But not this McAllister. Arguing with people and practically asking them to hate you seemed like one of those nightmares that could turn your hair white. I mean, why not wear a Please Pelt Me with Spit Wads sign on your back? Or break into song at every given chance? You'd get the same attention.

I couldn't change things. And going into meltdown mode would only make things worse. I just had to accept it.

"Yeah," Ariel finally answered, her voice low and resigned. "Trina's here."

"Right. Well . . . you guys have fun," I said. My tongue felt thick with self-pity. It flopped about inside my mouth like a dying fish, slurring my words.

"Okay," she said. Again I could hear Trina's smug little screeches in the background.

"I'll see you guys tomorrow morning, right?"

"We'll really try. Bye, Katie."

I heard a click, followed by the mournful drone of the dial tone. My hands shook as I replaced my cordless phone on its base.

That's it, I thought as fresh tears dripped down my cheeks. I'm done. I'm over. I've been totally abandoned.

I shouldn't have been all that surprised. After all, I'd gone along with similar avoidance campaigns in the past. Besides, I'd been putting Chuck before them for the past two years. We weren't exactly a sisterhood.

And yet it still hurt like hell. I've been dumped on my birthday and no one cares! I'd barely made it to seventeen and my social life was ruined forever.

At least I had the college thing in Austin. I wouldn't have to stick around this summer and see Chuck and Trina making out at the mall or the river parties.

Now if I could just figure out a way to never come back.

Excerpted from Alpha Dog by Jennifer Ziegler Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Alpha Dog 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I abosultely loved this book. It was so cute and had me laughing. Any teen girl can easily relate to the main character, Katie's problems in dealing her mom. So, if you want a great book to read I highly reccomend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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John Long More than 1 year ago
Loved it so much! Amazing especially for teenagers. Omg i could NOT put it down. Well worth the money!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a book any dog lover would love to read! It is perfect for all ages above the age of 12. Seventeen year old Katie isn't usual in control. Her mother drives her nuts with criticism and advice. Her boyfriend of two years broke up with her on her birthday. Katie's going to a summer program in Austin, Texas. She moves into a dorm room with a Christian goodie goody or maybe not. She actually turns out to be this punk rock chick and boyfriend who is constantly camped out on their couch. She goes to the pound with her roommate to go find Christine (roommate) a dog but Katie ends up picking one up instead but who would have guessed the dog ends up being insane. Katie ends up having a crush on one of the cutest guys in the apartment but she thinks the boy doesn't like dogs so she guesses her chances are ruined. Wow, what a great book! This book is hilarious it will have you giggling in no time. This book is a good book for young teenagers of any gender. It is very cute.Katie ends up dating the guy who she thinks hates dogs. They have insane parties. The roommate's boyfriend's friends and he are constantly camped out on their couch.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book... it made me cry and i realize jus thow well behaved my dogs are compared to her dog in the story. This book is great for animal lovers or anyone who likes a really good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not only is this an amazing dog book, but it is also a bit romantic!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will have you laughing and crying. Dog lovers of any age will really enjoy it. Actually, anybody who has ever tried to train a pet will love this book. It is fast-reading and you won't want to put it down.