Bulu: African Wonder Dog

Bulu: African Wonder Dog

by Dick Houston


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Bulu: African Wonder Dog by Dick Houston

Fans of narrative non-fiction, true dog stories, and African wildlife will want to check out Bulu!

Born on a crocodile farm in Zambia's untamed South Luangwa Valley, the puppy seemed different from his littermates. Too quiet. Unresponsive. Terriers are usually full of energy and bouncing off walls. But not this one. Nobody wanted him. Enter Anna and Steve Tolan—former police officers who had left behind their life in England to live in the African bush. People thought the Tolans were a bit different, too. The peculiar puppy suited them perfectly. They named him Bulu, or "wild dog" in the local Nyanja language.

Living in the bush, Bulu not only found his voice, he also found his calling as a foster parent to the orphaned baby animals—including warthogs, monkeys, elephants, baboons, bushbucks, and buffalo—cared for by the Tolans. But Bulu's protective nature led him into terrifying situations in the wild. It's a miracle he survived! But survive he did, disarming people with his wacky ways and nurturing once-unwanted creatures like him until they too could be set free. Bulu's story is a joyful confirmation of dogs as unique spirits, capable of love, compassion, and bravery.

Packed with vivid descriptions of encounters with crocodiles, lions, leopards, poisonous snakes, armed poachers, and more—and illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs—Bulu: African Wonder Dog is a great resource for meeting Common Core State Standards that will be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375847240
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 05/10/2011
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 419,182
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.72(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Dick Houston has spent most of his adult life in Africa as a safari leader, conservationist, writer, and teacher. Born in Ohio, he taught English at schools in the United States, Venezuela, Kenya, and Zambia. As a safari leader, he ran journeys across the Sahara Desert, through the rain forests of central Africa, and in the bush country of eastern and southern Africa. He has written on African topics for Smithsonian, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Reader's Digest. His commitment to saving Africa's vanishing wildlife led him to help found Elefence International, a nonprofit group dedicated to elephant conservation in Zambia. You can learn more about him and Elefence International at www.elefence.org.

Read an Excerpt

"Don't get a dog if you're going to live in the African bush," Mitch warned Steve and Anna as they sat in the shade of their gazebo overlooking the Luangwa River. "Several years ago, some friends of mine lost a dog to a leopard. Snatched him right off the porch." Mitch looked to the river, where a crocodile was crawling onto a sandbar. "I've run safaris for nearly forty years in the Luangwa Valley. I've never seen a pet survive here beyond a few months." He gestured at the hippo pod mid-river, grumbling in the steam-bath heat. "Need I remind you?" He grinned his crooked smile. "There's tons of risks for a dog in the Zambian bush."  

"Anna and I know a few things about risks," Steve said with a wink at Anna as she poured tea into tin cups. The two smiled as they glanced over at their African-style house, fifty yards from the gazebo. It was a one-room circular rondavel, made of wood and straw with a thatched roof. It rested like a huge dried-up cupcake under a wild mango tree. Inside, a kerosene refrigerator sweated to keep perishable food cold, an old propane stove smoked their meals, and a shower rained river water behind a wicker screen. Cobras slithered inside when they forgot to close the door. Scorpions dropped onto the mosquito net over their bed. Lions' roars rattled the reed walls. But despite the risks, Steve and Anna loved life in Zambia's untamed South Luangwa Valley. They were living their dream.  

"Nevertheless," Mitch continued, "this is no place for a dog."  

"Oh now, Mitch," Anna persisted. "Didn't you just say that there were puppies for sale at the old crocodile farm?"  

"You really are determined, aren't you?" Mitch shook his head and brushed back his long white hair.  

"When Anna makes up her mind, there's no turning back." Steve laughed. "Why else do you think we left England to live here?"  

"Okay, if you must know. Yesterday I saw Hank at the croc farm. There were five pups in the litter. Four are sold, but nobody wants the last one. His father was a Jack Russell. Terriers are usually full of energy and bouncing off the walls. But this one is unresponsive. Too quiet. Its legs are too long and it has a pointy face. You should look around for a different dog."  

Anna thought for a moment. "Why should we look further?" She sat back in her canvas chair, folded her arms, and narrowed her eyes at Mitch. "Sounds to me like this dog is different."  

"Well, I guess in a way he is." Mitch shrugged. "Look, if you get the dog, you must know this. Owning one will bring you nothing but heartache. Sooner or later he will get bitten by a tsetse fly and be infected with the trypanosome parasite. It causes sleeping sickness. Most wild animals are immune. But the disease is the number one killer of domestic animals in Africa." He reached for the teapot. "And keep your eye on him. After all, he's part terrier. If he goes chasing after something in the bush ... he may get eaten."    

Like a drunken rhino, the Land Rover swayed between holes and ruts on the muddy road. It was November, the beginning of the rainy season. Steve and Anna turned onto a narrow track lined with a carpet of sprouting grass. A faded crocodile farm sign peeked through the green brush. The old cement pools and tanks that once held crocodiles were now cracked with weeds and roots. The creatures had been raised there for their skins until the business, like the crocs, went belly up. The grounds were now being converted into lodging facilities for tourists. African workers on ladders were thatching new roofs for the cottages.  

Steve parked the Land Rover beside a single-story house with a red tin roof. Hank, a stocky man in baggy shorts, stepped off the porch to greet them. "Sorry, my friends. We're fresh out of flat dogs!" he joked, flat dogs being the Zambian nickname for crocs.  

Anna laughed as she and Steve climbed out of the truck. "We came to look at a real dog, actually."  

"Only one left," said Hank. "A male. Come have a look."  

Hank led them inside. He opened the door to a dimly lit room and pulled back a burlap curtain at the window. "Well, here he is." On the floor was an old cardboard box lined with a white blanket.   As their eyes adjusted to the light, a brown patch appeared on the blanket framing the head of a white puppy. The dog was curled up on his side, sleeping. The single brown spot on his back looked like it had dropped from a paintbrush. "He's so little,"Anna said softly as she carefully picked him up and cradled him in her arms.   Steve looked at him closely. "There's something about his face. It's so familiar. I can't quite place it."  

Anna glanced at Steve, who was now grinning at her. She smiled back. "Hank, I think we'll take him," she said. "How much do we owe you?"  

"Dinner at your place—all I can eat. I'll get you a fresh box to take him home in."  

"That won't be necessary." Anna cuddled the puppy close to her chest. "I brought Marty's bed."  

"Marty?" said Hank.   "An old friend we had to leave behind in England," Anna answered in a thin voice.  

"Oh, I see." Hank nodded, understanding. "A very dear old friend, I'm sure."    

Customer Reviews

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Bulu: African Wonder Dog 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful storie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book a few years ago and i ooved it. My friends great uncle wrote it so she recommended it for me. I loved the tensipn when he got into trouble and how Bulu easily made friends with other animals. If you love animals you should read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book got me hooked from the first sentence to the last. Very adventrous and heart-warming story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So heart warming
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like a lot of books but Bulu is my favorite.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing book. Totally recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 10 year old who is a really advanced reader was given this book by her book club... when she had finished it she said it was her all time favorite. I had to try it myself...so far I love it! Very well written...very much a read for all generations. Completely engrossing story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good i love it its a mix of sad and happy jouyful
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Mary Yudin More than 1 year ago
i really loved it. i have a jack russel at home,and bulu reminds me of her, energetic and brave. i like how it gets tense and i get worried whn bulu gets into trouble. it was sad when he was taken by the lion. i couldnt believe he escaped! I Love Bulu!!!! reccomened for jack russel owners and dog and animal lovers.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a saying to me saying that miracles and good things exist in the world. Even poor places like Africa! I really enjoyed it and was entralled when I saw what the main characters were doing for the african children and also inspired me to help people all over the world to bring joy and laughfter that I luv to see and hear
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Zargon26Magee More than 1 year ago
This book is a wonderful true story about Steve and Anna Tolan and their dog Bulu. Steve and Anna are retired police officers from England who had a dream to move to Africa. Their struggle to get established is the backdrop for the story of a runt puppy they adopted against all advice. They were told that he would break their hearts because the bush country is too hostile for a small dog to survive. But, Bulu not only survives several life threatening experiences, he adopts orphaned animals and thrives in his home territory in the bush. This story will appeal to young and old and anyone who likes dogs or adventure. You won't want to put it down, it keeps you wanting to know what happens next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read up to 8 chapters and it is the second best book ive ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago