|Doglands by Tim Willocks|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Furgal and his three sisters have a secret: although their mother is a purebred, their father was an outlaw. And their owner has no intention of keeping dogs alive unless they earn money on the race track. Furgal and his siblings must escape, and make their own way in the world.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: January 2012|
|Publisher: Andersen Press|
|External links: [http:// www.timwillocks.com Author's website]|
Furgal is the son of Argal, a near-legendary wolfhound who runs free and wild. But our hero and his sisters are not so fortunate: they were born in the dreaded greyhound prison they call Dedbone's Hole, and their mixed heritage is beginning to show. It cannot be long until their brutal keeper notices, and takes them away to kill them.
Furgal's mother realises the danger and warns him of the owner's intentions. She is a famous racing dog and therefore has no chance of getting away, but she is determined her four pups will not be slaughtered because of their father. She devises a desperate plan for their escape, to take place at the very moment when they are leaving the compound for the killing place. She teaches her son the legend of the Doglands, a place where dogs can be free, and urges him to forget her and lead his sisters to a better life. Despite his grief at leaving his beloved mother in this terrible place, Furgal agrees, but the plan is only partly successful, and the beginning of his new life of freedom is marked by tragedy.
The rest of the story tells of Furgal's adventures. He first has to learn to make the difficult choice between security and a measure of happiness as a pet, or the dangerous but more honourable life of a free dog. Learning that his new owners intend to have him neutered – for his own good, because it will stop him wanting to stray – helps him make up his mind, and he flees. He is soon recaptured, however, and meets up with a rag-tag bunch of dogs in the pound with whom he forges strong bonds of friendship. He also meets, at last, his famous father Argal, the night before the older dog is to be executed, and Argal spends his final night training his son in the ways of the free dogs. Furgal learns what it really is to run with the winds, and about the canine afterlife which means that although his father is about to die, they will not be truly separated.
There is some humour in the story, particularly in the character of the cowardly and well-named Skyver, but the author does not shy away from sadness or loss, and Furgal has much to endure in the course of his adventures. What is more, the reader is frequently reminded that the hero and his companions are canines, and that their notion of justice is very different from the human one. Although it is not their fault, dogs who are ill-treated can easily become vicious killers in their turn, and indeed, several of the humans who abuse dogs come to graphically described and gory ends. It is true that a good few of the humans Furgal encounters are either ignorant or cruel, but there is balance in the portrayals, and some are kind, or at the very least well-meaning. Things get a lot better for him when Furgal meets a human who can speak 'dog', but the message of the book is uncompromising: dogs and humans simply do not share the same ideas about happiness or freedom. This is a thrilling story, full of heart-in-the-mouth moments and derring-do, but it also has a more thoughtful side as Furgal learns the lore of the winds and the Doglands, and it will provide readers, especially animal-lovers, with a lot of pleasure.
Another book which offers excellent insights into the relationship between dogs and humans is Call of the Wild by Jack London.
You can read more book reviews or buy Doglands by Tim Willocks at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Doglands by Tim Willocks at Amazon.com.
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