The Dog by Kerstin Ekman

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The Dog by Kerstin Ekman

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A classic story of the development of a bond between a man and a wild dog - beautifully told with no sentimentality and highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: February 2009
Publisher: Sphere
ISBN: 978-1847441713

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It was one of those dreadful coincidences which led to the pup being lost. The man was going to the lake to drill holes in the ice to fish and the mother dog thought that he was going hunting. Naturally she would be required to accompany him and as the man left she followed. One of her pups, grey and still at the lolloping stage, tried to follow but quickly got left behind. In the snow he could neither follow nor return home and his only option was to seek shelter in the roots of a tree.

The weather was hard and the pup came close to death in the hours that followed but instinct took over and he found some food to eat. Over the weeks and months that followed the pup matured and learned to fend for himself and to fit in with the natural order of things. Winter turned to spring and to summer and we see the seasons change through his eyes. Finally we meet the man who could befriend this wild animal.

This is no fluffy story of a lost puppy. It's a tale of the harshness of the Swedish winter and how the dog won through against all the odds but not without injury. It's direct about what the dog has to do to survive. The landscape, the weather and the other predators are hard and uncompromising and you'll be left in no doubt about that. It's a brilliant exposition of how the dog developed from the vulnerable lolloping puppy to the mature adult dog able to fend for himself. Occasionally I found myself holding my breath as I read.

This is a book written by a woman who knows dogs. She understands their thought processes and the way that they act. She has their movements – the actions intended to defuse a difficult situation – perfectly. There's no sentimentality in the writing and the dog is allowed to emerge as the creature that he is.

But dogs are pack animals and it's when the man sees the dog that a curious bond is formed. Neither has a name – for what do they matter in the great scheme of things – but over weeks and months the man looks to gain the dog's trust. The advances are minimal but gradually they build the man and the dog become allies.

It's easy to say that a book is a classic, but it's more than two decades since this book was first published in Sweden and it remains as fresh, as relevant, today as it was then. There's a mere 133 pages of text and even this is interspersed with dark line drawings which illustrate the Swedish landscape but there's a heavyweight story in those pages.

It's superb – and highly recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For another classic story of the bond between man and dog we can recommend Call of the Wild by Jack London. You might also appreciate In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist and Henning Koch (translator).

Booklists.jpg The Dog by Kerstin Ekman is in the Top Ten Books Not Originally Written In English.

Booklists.jpg The Dog by Kerstin Ekman is in the Top Ten Books For Dog Lovers.

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