A Dog's Life: The Autobiography of a Stray

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Overview

Squirrel and her brother Bone begin their lives in a toolshed behind someone's summer house. Their mother nurtures them and teaches them the many skills they will need to survive as stray dogs. But when their mother is taken from them suddenly and too soon, the puppies are forced to make their own way in the world, facing humans both gentle and brutal, busy highways, other animals, and the changing seasons. When Bone and Squirrel become separated, Squirrel must fend for herself, and in the process, makes two ...
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A Dog's Life: The Autobiography of a Stray

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Overview

Squirrel and her brother Bone begin their lives in a toolshed behind someone's summer house. Their mother nurtures them and teaches them the many skills they will need to survive as stray dogs. But when their mother is taken from them suddenly and too soon, the puppies are forced to make their own way in the world, facing humans both gentle and brutal, busy highways, other animals, and the changing seasons. When Bone and Squirrel become separated, Squirrel must fend for herself, and in the process, makes two friends who in very different ways define her fate.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Martin's latest, told from the viewpoint of the title character-a pooch named Squirrel-could well be a primer for potential dog owners: it's a cautionary tale chronicling just about everything not to do as a canine caretaker. Dillon reads with a calm and sympathetic voice, relating how poor Squirrel is abandoned and mistreated by humans, and becomes a scrappy master of survival as she wanders the streets searching for her brother, Bone, from whom she was separated early on in life. Dillon makes certain that listeners will feel the relief and slow-emerging joy Squirrel experiences when at last she finds a kind and loving owner who truly wants-and even needs-her. Though Martin is sometimes inconsistent about what Squirrel does and does not know, listeners will be too hooked on the emotional notes and occasional dramatic moments here to mind. Ages 9-up. (Nov. 2005) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From The Critics
A dog named Squirrel and her brother Bone are followed from their birth until their separation. In portraying stray dogs, Newbery Honor winner Ann M. Martin also discusses and shows the various ways people treat strays, from ignoring them to trying to kill them to treating them well. Squirrel understands many things that a dog probably cannot, including human speech, so readers will have to suspend their disbelief in reading this book. Martin's writing is elegant and insightful. The story is realistic, though at times disheartening because of how we often treat stray animals. Squirrel stays away from feral dogs when she can, but she is injured and is lucky to have a family take her to a vet for surgery. Still, these people leave her behind. Eventually she finds a home with a woman who treats her as a companion. 2005, Scholastic, 244 pp., Ages young adult.
—John Jacob
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-From the comfort of her new home, a dog provides a retrospective narrative of her 10 years as mostly a stray. Squirrel's voice is consistently gentle, even as she describes her surroundings and life-changing events. She describes the circumstances of her birth, and conveys sadness and grief upon the disappearance of her mother, separation from her brother, and fear when fighting mean, starving dogs. Perhaps it is her sweet nature that makes her complacent about life on the run, but it also makes her story less compelling. Avi's The Good Dog (S & S, 2001) and Sarah Clark Jordan's The BossQueen, Little BigBark and the Sentinel Pup (Tricycle, 2004) also have canine narrators but convey many rich, satisfying details about what it smells and feels like to be a dog-details that are missing here. Nevertheless, libraries with dog lovers and Martin fans will want to give this book a home.-Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Following the tradition of other realistic animal stories, this moving account of a stray dog's life experiences is told from the canine perspective. Born in a garden shed, Squirrel and her brother Bone are raised by their mother, who teaches them to hunt and avoid humans. Life is good for the puppies until their mother disappears and doesn't return. When the adventurous Bone sets out into the world, Squirrel follows, afraid to be on her own. But along a busy highway, the puppies are soon separated forever and Squirrel is alone. She manages to survive winter and finds Moon, another stray. The two travel together, raiding garbage cans, eluding dogcatchers and fighting off a band of hungry dogs until Moon is killed by a truck. Alone again, Squirrel stoically moves from town to town, encountering both kind and cruel humans, and aging as the seasons pass. Speaking matter-of-factly, Squirrel accepts life bravely and in the end, finds the loving home she deserves. Heart-wrenching as well as heart- warming. (Fiction. 10-14)
From the Publisher

PW 8/22/05**STARRED**********
Martin's (A Corner of the Universe ) winsome novel, written from a canine's point of view, is sure to melt the hearts of animal lovers, as she traces the dog days of a stray named Squirrel from birth to old age. The pooch spends his first few months safe and warm inside a shed. She first ventures out into the larger, more threatening world after her mother disappears and brother Bone decides it is time to explore the woods. From then on, life becomes a battle of survival for Squirrel, scrounging for food, avoiding busy streets and remaining wary of humans who may or may not be friendly. During her life, Squirrel gets separated from her brother, finds and loses a canine companion named Moon, and stumbles upon a handful of temporary owners who do not always prove to be loyal. Besides offering a glimpse of how strays learn to fend for themselves, this saga of a lonely dog delivers a subtle but strong message to potential dog owners, conveying the negative effects of neglecting, ditching or abusing a pet. After following Squirrel's harrowing encounters with freezing temperatures, dangerous enemies and near starvation, readers will utter a sigh of relief when she finds a human who needs Squirrel as much as Squirrel needs her. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)

Kirkus 9/1/05
A DOG'S LIFE
The Autobiography of a Stray
Following the tradition of other realistic animal stories, this moving account of a stray dog's life experiences is told from the canine perspective. Born in a garden shed, Squirrel and her brother Bone are raised by their mother, who teaches them to hunt and avoid humans. Life is good for the puppies until their mother disappears and doesn't return. When the adventurous Bone sets out into the world, Squirrel follows, afraid to be on her own. But along a busy highway, the puppies are soon separated forever and Squirrel is alone. She manages to survive winter and finds Moon, another stray. The two travel together, raiding garbage cans, eluding dogcatchers and fighting off a band of hungry dogs until Moon is killed by a truck. Alone again, Squirrel stoically moves from town to town, encountering both kind and cruel humans, and aging as the seasons pass. Speaking matter-of-factly, Squirrel accepts life bravely and in the end, finds the loving home she deserves. Heart-wrenching as well as heart- warming. (Fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307283467
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2005
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author


Ann M. Martin's The Baby-Sitters Club series sold over 176 million copies and inspired a generation of young readers. Her novels include the Main Street series, BELLE TEAL, the Newbery Honor book A CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE, HERE TODAY, A DOG'S LIFE, and ON CHRISTMAS EVE, as well as the much-loved collaborations P.S, LONGER LETTER LATER and SNAIL MAIL NO MORE with Paula Danziger, and THE DOLL PEOPLE and THE MEANEST DOLL IN THE WORLD, written with Laura Godwin and illustrated by Brian Selznick. She lives in upstate New York.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 148 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(120)

4 Star

(17)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 148 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Must Read

    This book was so sweet and so sad at the same time. It was well written and an easy read for children. Everyone should read this book because it has many good lessons to be learned. It brings awareness to the harsh conditions that stray animals have to deal with and shows how humans can be both cruel and compassionate. Although the book ended good I still ended up in tears and hugged my own stray dog that was rescued. I appreciate him more than ever now! This book is definetely this years stocking stuffer.

    14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    such a good book

    this book is about Squirrel and what happens to her in the wild. once u read this book you'll look at stray dogs differently because you'll know what it must be like for them.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2008

    A Dog's Life : Can't keep my eyes off!

    A Dog's Life is about a stray dog named Squirrel. It is about the story of Squirrel from when she is born to when she becomes an old dog. It starts off when her mother dies an Bone (her brother) ventures with her away from home. They are split up when someone sees them and takes bone away. Then Squirrel is taken away, too and named Daisy. Her owners then leave her. Along her journey she meet a small dog named Moon, a pack of hungary snarling dogs, and a dangerous highway. This story has a great ending and is one of my favorite books!

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2007

    heartwarming!

    A sad story with a heartwarming feeling like you are so greatful of the dogs who have homes.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Awesome! Must Read If A Dog Lover!

    I would recommend this book to any dog lover! This is a touching dog story, but instead of it being in person's point of view it's in a strays. This book is touching, Bitter sweet, and loving. You will feel like you need to help and make a change when you finish reading.Best book EVER! :)You won't be dissapointed

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2013

    A Ann M. MARTIN FAN

    I wish i could have rated this a thousand stars because this story is a sad, happy, scary, but awesome story. I bet you wont believe this but i read it 8 times already and yes, i am trying to get this book out in to the list of best books. I really enjoy reading this book.Well i know that people who just dont like dogs probably wont like this, but i really enjoyed it. Please try this book. And remember if you like it, spread the word. It is amazing.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2011

    The most heart warming book I ever read

    In my opinion, A dogs life was very heart warming book. Although it is fiction, the book is pretty accurate about a strays life. I would recommend it to anyone who loves animals and wants to know how life as a stray is. Before you read this book I will warn you, there is a sad event in this book towards the end that might cause you to shed a tear,or two. I know I did.
    In the book, there is a dog named squirrel who is the stray. In the beginning she looses her brother and tries finding him throughout the story. The author didn't describe the dogs in a very detailed way. She didn't describe what color the dog was, what kind it ws or what its mother and brother looked like. She also skipped a few parts in the story which I felt she was lazy, because the dog goes from being 1 to being 9 in one chapter. In the end this is an a amazing book!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2005

    A must read that you will not want to put down

    A wonderfully written book. I laughed and cried and never wanted this story to end. Thank you Ann for a wonderful story.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    amazing book!

    i love when books/ movies follow one character and the characters they meet and lose along their journey.this book follows the whole life of one dog, it made me cry at one part, but it had a happy ending. really the perfect book for young readers (or older readers looking for a light read!)

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2011

    You Will Never Feel The Ssme Way Again!!

    Did you ever wonder what life is like for a stray dog or what it's been doing its entire life? A Dog's Life by Ann M. Martin is a story about what a stray dog encounters and what she does while she is a stray.
    You got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and latch on to the affirmative. Don't mess with Mr. In Between."
    - Ann M. Martin.
    In the book A dog's Life, a dog's life is being told. The main characters name is Squirrel. Squirrel's life changes from perfect to a complete disaster. And I mean complete. After her mom leaves Bone and her alone she doesn't come back. Now Squirrel is alone with her brother but soon enough her brother leaves too. Everything that she encounters is written down in this juicy written book. The dog has to go through loss of family, friends and has to hide from other stray dogs. She has to make sure to cross the street very carefully or BAM, she will get hit.

    "I really loved this book. I did for a school book report last year and I really got into it I just couldn't take my eyes of! You really absolutely need to read this book!"
    - Ann M. Martin
    My overall thought about A Dog's Life by Ann M. Martin would be that the book had a lot of sentences that went through years, months, and seasons. Ann M. Martin really put effort in making this book as juicy as it can be. The settings in the story are real. When you read how Ann M. Martin describes people living in the towns you will feel like you are there with them. You can picture the town clearly in your mind. I LOVE the way Ann M Martin wrote the story. The narrator is Squirrel looking back on her life and tells the story from her point of view. The Characters in this story are easy to relate to and are well developed. When I was reading I could almost feel what Squirrel was feeling. I feel like Ann M. Martin could not have made any better than it already is. I defiantly recommend this book to you.

    I think reading is a gift. It was a gift that was given to me as a child by many people, and now as an adult and a writer, I'm trying to give a little of it back to others. It's one of the greatest pleasures I know.' - Ann M. Martin
    This book was written by Ann M. Martin. Ann M. Martin wrote this book by using real information about a stray dog's life. Ann M. Martin also wrote this book about her dog Sadie. Sadie's mother was a stray and that's what inspired Ann M. Martin to write A Dog's Life. Ann M. Martin had to change the title from Squirrel to A Dog's Life. She changed it because she thought the title Squirrel would be too confusing. A Dogs Life was originally made into a short story but Ann M. Martin loved writing the book so much that she changed it into and Auto Biography. She did a lot of research about how dogs live and how the moon changes phases from summer to fall, winter to spring, and through the years. Ann M. Martin had to go over the story a couple of times before she got the story right and she defiantly did.
    11 year old Devin Trapp was born on July 3rd. She is currently going to Babylon Memorial Grade School. She has quite a few interests. She likes to swim, text, draw and talk. Her previous essay was her literary essay. Her upcoming report is going to be on Greek mythology. Devin Trapp loves talking to her friends and a lot of her teachers at BMGS can see that. She also loves going to school.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    One of my favorite books

    I love this story, I have read it more than ten times and it is a book that Ann M. Martin should be proud of. I told all my friends about this novel and they all loved it just the same. It isn't a great adventure or anything, but a dog's point of view is very thrilling and exciting to read about. It is very interesting because you get to read what a dog thinks. I say that this is a very well-written story.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2008

    The Greatest Book About a Stray Dog

    A Dog's Life is a wonderful, sad and happy book. It is one of my most favorite books I've ever read. It all starts when Bone leaves the shed that he and his sister were living in. Of course Squirrel follows, and the story gets even more sad after that. Moon goes through lots of sad and happy things in her stray life. At the end something very good happens to Squirrel. But I can't tell you it because that would give it away. I hope you enjoy it!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2008

    BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD!!!!!!!!

    This is the best book you could ever read. It is sad but happy and you need to read this book. NO one can say anything bad about this book because there is nothing bad to say. It is truly the best book in the world!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    My favorite book

    I loved this book but made me sad when one of the women just took bone not squrell to

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2013

    Awsome

    I love it..... im reading it in school and i lloove it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2008

    a tear drips down my cheak....

    this is so emotional!!! I read it with my mom,(i know, i know)and we both were crying the whole way though!! I sooooo recomend this but only if you have a box of tissues and a shoulder to cry on! (no joke.)

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2008

    The BEST Book ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I read this book 18 times in a row becouse it's so good! This book is so emotional! I just loved it, and its now my favorit book. Moon is my favorit character. So is Squirrel. This book is THE MOST AWSOME BOOK EVER!!! I recomend this book for all ages. Everyone will love it.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2008

    A Dogs Life

    I¿m writing about A Dog' s Life .I have to give it 2 stars because it is sad, happy, and mean. Here is how it' s sad. The mom dog died .The brother got taken away from her. This is why it' s happy. Two dogs find homes. There is a mother dog that makes me happy because the puppies can live. This is why I think it' s mean. A fox that is a girl got shot wich killed her. The dogs got thrown out a moving car widow on to a parking lot and people came and toke one of the dogs. This book is good if you like dogs a lot, and it is also very funny in spots.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2005

    A must read for any animal lover

    Martin does an amazing job creating a memorable character in Squirrel. You will not soon forget this 'old lady' nor will you want to.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2014

    Hi

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