My Life in Dog Years

My Life in Dog Years

4.3 69
by Gary Paulsen, Ruth Wright Paulsen

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Gary Paulsen has owned dozens of unforgettable and amazing dogs, and here are his favorites--one to a chapter. Among them are Snowball, the puppy he owned as a boy in the Philippines; Ike, his mysterious hunting companion; Electric Fred and his best friend, Pig; Dirk, the grim protector; and Josh, one of the remarkable border collies working on Paulsen's ranch


Gary Paulsen has owned dozens of unforgettable and amazing dogs, and here are his favorites--one to a chapter. Among them are Snowball, the puppy he owned as a boy in the Philippines; Ike, his mysterious hunting companion; Electric Fred and his best friend, Pig; Dirk, the grim protector; and Josh, one of the remarkable border collies working on Paulsen's ranch today.

My Life in Dog Years is a book for every dog lover and every Paulsen fan--a perfect combination that shows vividly the joy and wisdom that come from growing up with man's best friend.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Here's a treat to make Paulsen fans sit up and beg for more: scenes of Paulsen's life viewed in terms of the dogs who graced them. Aficionados who have read Paulsen's other memoirs (Father Water, Mother Woods; Eastern Sun, Northern Moon) already know of the author's rough-and-tumble childhood as the son of alcoholics; readers of Winterdance already know of his devotion to the sled dogs who pulled him through the Iditarod. Although he returns to familiar territory here, his approach is new. Profiling such dogs as Dirk, who "had Airedale crossed with hound crossed with alligator" and who unfailingly protected him from hoodlums who routinely menaced him in his youth, he both reveals himself and pays vivid tribute to his canine companions. In deceptively casual prose, he writes of his own troubles matter-of- factly while wittily and affectionately enumerating his dogs' virtues. Not all the episodes are bleak, fortunately, and one of the most successful chapters describes the glee inspired by a particularly brilliant border collie. While most boy-and-dog accounts tend either toward the tearjerker or toward the consciously heartwarming, Paulsen's paean resonates with a robust appreciation of the species; his writing percolates with energetic love. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Any Paulsen fan knows that Paulsen has a deep appreciation for animals in general, and dogs in particular. So it makes perfect sense to recall periods of his life in terms of memorable dogs. Paulsen dedicates this book to his dog, Cookie, who led his first Iditarod race and saved his life. Paulsen has indeed known some amazing dogs--there's Snowball who brightened his seven-year-old existence by rambling with him in the strange Philippine world to which his parents had moved; Ike appeared when he needed a hunting dog and then, one day, disappeared just as mysteriously. It wasn't until years later Paulsen discovered Ike's secret. From the tiny watchdog, Dirk, to the gentle and gigantic Great Dane, Caesar, Paulsen remembers each canine pal with warmth and humor. Each dog has a special quality and story to tell and Paulsen tells them marvelously well. 1999, Yearling, Ages 8 up, $15.95 and $4.99. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
VOYA - Richard Gercken
This collection of seven informal essays about some of Paulsen's dogs should be a hit with dog lovers and the popular YA writer's fans. Some of the earlier pieces are as much about Paulsen as the dogs. We learn about his parents (he calls them drunks ) as well as about his loneliness as a child. Anyone who has ever been picked on by other kids will cheer on alley dog Dirk as he protects his master and chases his tormentors. But there is joy as well as terror. Ike, the black Labrador, who did not belong to Paulsen but hunted with him, meant a lot to him, as did his discovery of hunting, "the opening into a world of wonder." I wish Paulsen and a child's father had not lied to a child in the Iditarod story about Quincy. But most of the book is casual, and the stories tend to sentimental endings. They are like Reader's Digest anecdotes and might be titled "One of the Most Unforgettable Dogs I Ever Knew." But Paulsen is master of the shrewd one-liner: "Of all the dogs I have had, Fred was closest to being nuclear in his capacity for destruction." Paulsen believes dogs analyze and plan. If he really means for me to believe that his border collie Josh used to irrigate his fields, I don't. But such questions and any lack of substance will not trouble those countless readers young and old who cannot wait to read every word Paulsen writes. My Q rating is based on the (dangerous) assumption that the final, edited version of this text will be at least as stylistically well done as Paulsen's previous published work and not contain the serious defects of this unedited version. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P M J S (Readable without serious defects, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 4 UpPaulsen reveals bits and pieces of his own life story through his experiences with eight of his dogs. After a heartfelt dedication to Cookie, the sled dog who saved his life, the author introduces readers first to Snowball, the puppy he acquired when he was seven years old and living in the Philippines, and then follows chronologically with profiles of other canine companions. He concludes with tales about Josh, the border collie with whom he currently shares a home. Paulsen is a master storyteller with a dry wit. His description of his dog Fred, whom he claimed was actually "nuclear in his capacity for destruction," and his account of his Great Dane Caesar, who was so petrified of trick-or-treaters that he would hide in the bedroom closet every Halloween with a housecoat over his eyes, are sure to elicit smiles. Paulsen can also make readers sigh when he relates how Snowball saved him from being bitten by a poisonous snake and how Cookie pulled him out of the water when he fell through the ice while trapping beaver. The statement, " a person. I do not think in my heart that he is a dog," gives youngsters a real sense of how the man looks at these animals. An attractive pen-and-ink sketch of the profiled animal opens each chapter. This well-written, readable reminiscence serves as a tribute to the dogs in one person's life, written by someone who considers them his best friends.Carol Kolb Phillips, The Library, East Brunswick, NJ
From the Publisher
* "Guaranteed to charm animal lovers and Paulsen's fans. . . . Something to please at every turn of the page. . . . This honest, unpretentious celebration of dogs further entrenches his reputation as an author who is as successful at writing nonfiction as he is at writing novels."
Booklist, starred review

"Paulsen is a master storyteller with a dry wit. . . . Gives readers a real sense of how the man looks at these animals."
School Library Journal

* "Here's a treat to make Paulsen fans sit up and beg for more.... His writing percolates with energetic love."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
1150L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

I am--I say this with some pride and not a little wonder--a "dog person." I make no excuses for unabashedly loving them--all of them, even some that have bitten me. I have always had dogs and will have dogs until I die. I have rescued dozens of dogs from pounds, always have five or six of them around me, and cannot imagine living without dogs. They are wonderful and, I think, mandatory for decent human life.

All that said, there are some dogs that are different, special in amazing ways....

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

GARY PAULSEN is the distinguished author of many critically acclaimed books for young people, His most recent books are Lawn Boy Returns, Woods Runner, Notes from the Dog, Mudshark, Lawn Boy, Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day, The Time Hackers, and The Amazing Life of Birds (The Twenty Day Puberty Journal of Duane Homer Leech).

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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My Life in Dog Years 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so cool. I always knew Gary had dogs, but I never knew that he had so many of them!!! I liked Snowball and Rex in paticular. But Josh is my favorite! I would just love to have a dog like him. he sounds so fun to live with!!! This is my favorite of all Gary paulsen's books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've always been a Gary Pulsin fan abd even though i haven't read this book i know that it is awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!(;
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!!!!!! I loved it!!!!! :>) :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read lots of gary paulsen books but this one is about the dogs that he loves. My favorite part is the dedecation. It is ssssssooooooo moving, i never thought that a dog could be so brave! You have GOT to read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was the best book I read about dogs and pets literature. I thought that this book was the most interesting I ever read. I loved it from beginning to end. An outstanding beautifully and excellent written book. To take readers into his life. I read it 5 times for real!!!!! And recommended it and my family and friends loved it!!! If you want something about pets lives that are amazing in many ways read this book. I know you'll love it!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this book is great. First of all because I love dogs and Gary Paulson's books. Second he tells about his dogs while at the same time he tells about his life. He had an interesting life so the book was Great. E-mail me and tell me some books you like. I love books about the outdoors. Happy reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book hope you read it XD
InTheBookcase More than 1 year ago
This was a very unique book. I enjoyed every chapter, as I learned about each new dog that passed through Gary Paulsen's life. All of them true stories, of course. I do like the author's writing style very much, and it's amazing how descriptive the book is. I'd pick it up and read it again! I loved each & every one of these dog's stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this like 20 times every time wondering how cool it would be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is for anyone who absolutely loves dogs! It tells of all the stories of Gary Paulsen and his many dogs throughout his life. I highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We purchased this book as part of a school project/bookreport. It had to be about animals - and it was recommended by the staff at B&N. While my daughter would have perhaps preferred a Geronimo Stilton Book originally (she loves that series) - we recognized the need for more "challenging" material. What a pleasant surprise this book was! Although we don't own a dog (just a cat)-- we were all drawn into the stories she shared with us from the book -- and impressed at how she (at age 10) was able to relate to the author's life lessons along the way. It was sad at times, and joyful at others. But it truly demonstrated why Dog is man's best friend!
WillT7E More than 1 year ago
My life in Dog Years is a great memoir about the dogs Gary Paulson has raised through his lifetime. Each chapter has a different story about one of the many dogs he has owned. In one of the chapters, Gary, at the age of seven, lived in Vietnam during the war, and there obviously weren't very many kids living there at that time. So, as you can imagine Gary was lonely and he wanted a friend, and one day found a black puppy with a perfect white circle on its side, but there was a problem. The dog belonged to a butcher and the butcher was planning on eating the dog, plus the butcher wasn't just going to give up his food without a price! My opinion: This is great book that is exciting, happy, and sad. I would recommend this book to any middle school student that has feelings for dogs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the best book i have ever read!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that evrybody should read this book. If you like dogs this would be the right book for you to read.He talks alot about his life and all of the dogs he had.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book of people who like to read about the outdoors. It is about a Boy named Brian was got to see his dad and he was on a small plan. The pilot had a heart attack and Brain landed the plan. So if you like outdoors this book is for you
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a very good book by Gary Paulson, telling all about all the dogs that he had had in his lifetime, and how they had made an impact on him. It was very enjoyable, though sad in some parts, and it led me to read his other books. He is a great author, and I love his books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a very good book that Gary tells about all his dogs in his lifetime. From Cookie to Josh this book was an enjoyable book to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This true story really touches your heart. It tells the story of how Gary paulsen started with dogs, and how he has lived with them all of his life. If you are a dog-lover, this book is an amazing story for you. If you are not a dog-lover, it will make you love them, and want to have experiences as Gary Paulsen did with them. From the first dog to the last, this auto-biography, will make you want to cry and laugh at the same time. Overall it is a great book that everyone should read, and one of my personal favorites!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book every year to my fifth grade students and every one of them loves it! It's an excellent read-aloud book, it hooks the reader with a combination of realism, tenderness, and laugh-out-loud funniness. I never get bored reading it again, the kids love the main subject- dogs! At their age they have a dog or want a dog and can't get enough of Gary Paulsen's dogs. Don't pass it up!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is very unique because it's a story about his life and it's also about the animal he cherishes, dogs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book but cute dogs +death means I'm crying. But I love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes, you should get this book. If you are doubting what I just said, think about who this is coming from. A elementary school teacher who loves a little laugh and reading here and there. I will not tell you all the details, but it is a wonderful book, and yes, you should get it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book My Life In Dog Years by Gary paulsen has some good things and bad this about this book. Some of the good things is that it is not fake, and he tells the truth about the dogs he meets in his life. He also cares about his dogs Gary Paulsen meets. I also like how he describes the dogs.