A small city dog, lost in the rugged backcountry of Vermont, relates his eventful struggle to find his way home.
In the same league as Ann M. Martin’s touching novel A Dog’s Life, this beautifully observant story, told from the point of view of a bighearted Chihuahua, will stay with canine-loving readers long after the tale is finished. A sequel to the New York–based Little Deer’s (Little Tramp, 2014) first book—both inspired by his real-life dog companion—the YA novel begins when the Chihuahua is uprooted from his contented life in a New York City apartment. The dog, named Tobi, travels with his beloved human, Ted, to northern Vermont for a summer on the family farm. Tobi is confused and bereft when one day Ted is gone, unaware that he will be traveling and can’t take the canine along. Ted’s gruff dad doesn’t help, banning Tobi from the house and forcing him to share farm dog Rex’s quarters. A tragic loss and other incidents periodically bring Ted back, but he always leaves Tobi behind when he departs again. The pooch suffers but gradually adjusts, finding comfort with gentle Rex and Ted’s grandmother until, caught up in the thrill of a dog pack’s wild deer hunt, he is lost in the woods. Danger, refuge, companionship, and a hint of uncanny mystery follow as Tobi encounters memorable animals and people during his monthslong ordeal. Tobi’s internal dialogue (he doesn’t speak with other animals) has a compelling authenticity, encompassing eloquent ponderings about the bond between humans and dogs, canine devotion, and forgiveness—and the awakening of his own ancestral memory. Driven to join in the howls of a pack of Native American sled dogs one night, he observes: “I was carried into timeless moonlit wilderness, and I, too, became a wild thing.” The novel’s rural, woodsy, and lakeside setting, described from Tobi’s perspective, is vividly detailed in sights, sounds, and smells. Little Deer (a pen name) seamlessly connects the intersecting stories of all his well-drawn characters, both human and animal, with a poignant thread—keep the tissues handy.
Delivering suspenseful storytelling, colorful and believable characters, and a deeply moving tribute to canine loyalty, this tale should resonate with dog lovers of any age.