Dog for Life

Dog for Life

5.0 2
by L. S. Matthews

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This is the true story of the journey of John Hawkins and his dog, Mouse, from way up north to way down south.
Mouse has been John and his brother Tom's dog for life. They got her as a puppy when they were just little themselves, and they very quickly discovered that they could understand everything Mouse said and she could do the same. She was just a person like


This is the true story of the journey of John Hawkins and his dog, Mouse, from way up north to way down south.
Mouse has been John and his brother Tom's dog for life. They got her as a puppy when they were just little themselves, and they very quickly discovered that they could understand everything Mouse said and she could do the same. She was just a person like everyone else--though maybe a bit cleverer than most.
You've maybe heard that John "ran away with his pet dog." But the truth about this story is that John and Mouse made the journey to save Tom. It's hard to pinpoint when Tom became truly ill, but when the doctors said they had to send Mouse away for fear of infection, the boys knew they had to do something. Without Mouse, Tom would never recover. The journey began to find a temporary home for Mouse, but once they'd set off, nothing turned out the way they'd planned.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Butler's pronunciation is so crisp, clear and perfect that at times, it is a bit distracting. His enthusiastic impression of John Hawkins, the protagonist of Matthews's (Fish) latest book, suffers a bit from this overarticulation. John, who runs away with his dog, Mouse, in order to save both Mouse and his very ill brother, is a likeable character, and in many ways, Butler is right for the job. Energy-wise his portrayal of John's chipper and sometimes naive personality seems right on the mark. But John's narration is never quite natural. It is a bit stilted, as if being read for the first time. Butler's range with female voices seems limited to the comical, which is appropriate in most cases, except with Mouse. Thankfully, he doesn't give her one of those farcical voices, but listeners do need to keep reminding themselves that Mouse is a she. Despite the imperfect match-up of reader and material, this production remains an engaging listening experience. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Norah Piehl
When John Hawkins's beloved older brother Tom comes down with a serious illness, the doctor says the boys' beloved dog Mouse has to leave to avoid making Tom's condition worse. But John knows that sending Mouse to the pound, where she might be killed, would actually make Tom sicker. To save Mouse's life—and maybe Tom's—John secretly travels with Mouse to the south of England, where the boys' long-lost uncle lives. Along the way, the boy and his dog encounter many eccentric characters—including a New Age healer and a scientist with dubious methods—before reaching his goal. Adding to (and sometimes contrasting with) John's matter-of-fact, self-assured narration is commentary from Mouse herself, whose thoughts John claims to understand: "We could talk out loud to her or just by thinking the words, and we'd hear her talk right back, in our heads. She was just a person like anyone—maybe a bit cleverer than most—who happened to have paws and fur and so on." Adventure fans and dog lovers will lap this one up, although John's odyssey of self-discovery and family loyalty goes way beyond genre boundaries.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Like Matthews's Fish (Delacorte, 2004), this is a tale about a journey of discovery and the importance of holding onto the things that matter in troubled times. John Hawkins, the narrator, and his brother, Tom, have a dog that can communicate with them psychically. When Tom becomes ill, the doctor says that the pup must go, but the boys know that Mouse is essential to Tom's recovery. To keep the canine from being sent to the pound, John and Mouse set out on a journey to find a temporary home for the dog with an uncle they haven't seen in years. Along the way, they encounter an ineffectual New Age healer and her family, a scientist who performs experiments on stolen animals, and a persecuted Roma family who help them reach their goal. Although John and Mouse encounter some disturbing situations, the childlike tone and magical elements of the narrative keep it age appropriate. Mouse is an engaging character whose wry observations of the foibles of human beings contrast with John's na vet , and readers will be rooting for the pair to succeed in their quest. Highly enjoyable.-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Because of his brother's critical illness, John Hawkins's mother says the family dog must go. Knowing that Mouse is necessary to his brother's recovery, John takes her from the north end of the country to the south, where he hopes an uncle he has barely met will keep her temporarily. On the way he has adventures, exaggerated in later news stories to include saving a baby, a pack of wild horses and an entire gypsy caravan. Here, John tells his story straight, in a convincing colloquial voice. Hopeful, helpful John is an engaging nine or ten year old. The English setting is incidental to the adventure of his journey, which is very nearly as suspenseful as the reporting would have suggested, and far more interesting because of the telepathic connection between the dog and the boys. Underlying the appealing plot are some serious issues: a family's grief, "natural" healing, scientific experimentation on animals, prejudice against gypsies and dealing with differences. Episodic enough to be read aloud, this should have wide appeal. (Fiction. 9-12)
From the Publisher
“The bond between the brothers and their dog is as convincing as Tiger’s devotion to the title fish in Matthews’s first book.”–Publishers Weekly, Starred

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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169 KB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

One Truth and Lies

This is the true story of the journey of John Hawkins (that’s me) and our dog, Mouse, from way up north to way down south. You’ve probably heard a mention of it before, but the people that tell the news, they don’t tell it right. I never knew that before, until I heard how they told our story. They got all sorts of things wrong, and it made me mad.

My mum said that everyone knows the news people always get it wrong. You hear famous people moaning about it all the time. She said, some of the time they just make mistakes, but mostly it’s because they tell the story they want to tell, or the story people want to hear.

I thought about that and realized it was true; I was always hearing famous people complaining the news stories about them were wrong, and maybe I just hadn’t believed them. And it’s true that people like the most crazy story, as long as they can believe it. Like, “Joe got a new bike for Christmas” won’t exactly race around the school, but “Joe got a new bike for Christmas, but everyone knows his dad stole it” will. Even if the more exciting version isn’t true. But “Joe got a new bike for Christmas, and aliens delivered it to his door” won’t work; the person trying to pass that one on is likely to get either no reaction or some pain.

And I worked out long ago that bit about people not believing stuff they don’t want to hear. Sometimes they just act like they haven’t heard. Sometimes they call you a liar. For them, anything is better than trying to believe something they don’t understand.

An example of this is when my brother Tom saw a ghost. Not “saw” exactly, because we were leaving a church after a wedding and he was walking a little way ahead, chatting away to someone he thought was a relative, walking next to him. He said afterward he just vaguely noticed it was a man, in a suit, but when you’re walking alongside someone, you don’t really look at them. We saw him talking to himself, and we called to him, and he looked back at us, and then all around, and asked where the guy had gone.

Mum didn’t like it, I could tell, and said Tom must have been imagining things. Tom and I realized later it must have been a ghost. But people don’t like ghosts—why, I don’t know. Tom said this guy was perfectly friendly before he vanished; though, when he thought about it, he hadn’t actually said anything back to Tom. So we shut up about it after that.

We also dreamed the same dreams some nights. We found we even sometimes got each other’s dreams by mistake, though we couldn’t think why—we’re not twins or anything; Tom’s two years older. Like one day Tom had been playing ball with his mate and that night I had the dream of doing the same thing, but I could tell it was Tom, not me, and in the dream he was irritated about something that wasn’t fair. I found this a bit of a boring dream, and told him off the next day, and said could he keep his dreams out of my dreams, which were much better than his.

Tom said he’d had one about my ant farm being tipped over; but he wasn’t interested in the ant farm, and if I’d keep my dreams, he’d try and keep his.

We never worked out why this happened, and of course, there wasn’t really anything we could do about it. But we didn’t tell people—including Mum—because we’d tried before, and they seemed to get cross with us, or think we were lying.

The same sort of thing was true about Mouse. Mouse had been a puppy when we were young, and she was called Mouse because she had squeaked like one. Of course, me and Tom, we understood everything she said and she felt the same. We could talk out loud to her or just by thinking the words, and we’d hear her talk right back, in our heads. She was just a person like anyone—maybe a bit cleverer than most—who happened to have paws and fur and so on; she could run faster and play ball better than both of us.

We found out, as we got older, that we could talk with most dogs, though it took a little more time and effort, as other dogs weren’t used to doing this with humans. But we slowly realized that other people thought “dog” like they thought “cabbage”; it was another species entirely that you couldn’t communicate with or anything. When Mouse did stuff, they said we’d trained her. If the tough kids think you’re lying, you’re liable for a beating, so we kept quiet, but it was hard, because it seemed unfair on Mouse. The good thing was, Tom pointed out, she really didn’t care. She had humans all sized up, and if she could cope with their small brain limitation, so could we.

Now, the reason I’m writing this is because Mum said, what you can do is write the truth yourself. Some of these famous people do that and call it an autobiography, or memoirs. Then you get your say. So that’s what I’m doing. And I don’t lie, so all this really is true. Well, sometimes you’ll see I had to cover myself with a story or two, on my journey, but I’m not hiding that from you, and like I said, sometimes you have to go along with people and tell them what they want to hear.

The truth of the story is, me and Mouse made the journey to save my brother, Tom. But the newspapers wouldn’t understand that. You’ll maybe have just heard about me “running away with a pet dog” and so on. Me and Mouse and Tom, we knew the truth, but no one seemed to listen. Now it’s different. That’s why I’m writing this.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

L. S. Matthews has written poetry and short stories since she was a child. Today she writes full-time in England, where she lives with her husband and their two children. Her first book for young readers, Fish, was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, a Publishers Weekly Flying Start, and was a Borders Original Voices book. The author lives in England.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Dog for Life 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really delved into the love of a pet and brother. I loved it so much!! Anyone who loves animals or reading in general should read this book!! It was magnificent, with deep characters and life issues you could really connect with!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago