Most Famous Dogs in Literature

atkins-bookshelf-literatureOne of the most heartbreaking scenes in literature that depicts man’s unique relationship to the loyal and faithful dog occurs late in Homer’s great epic poem, Odyssey. Odysseus has been gone from Ithaca, his home, for more than twenty years (ten years spent fighting in the Trojan War and ten years spent on a harrowing sea voyage, escaping and outwitting numerous captors to return home). During Odysseus’s absence, his home has been overrun by greedy, ruthless suiters seeking to marry his wife, Penelope, who is presumed to be a widow. To assess the situation more objectively, Odysseus disguises himself as a wandering beggar to walk the streets of the city. Just outside his home, he comes upon his beloved dog, Argos, who was a puppy when Odysseus left. Argus has been terribly neglected; lying on a pile of manure, he is old, diseased, and infested with lice. Unlike everyone who passes the beggar, Argos immediately recognizes Odysseus. Too sick to get up and greet his master, Argus slowly wags his tail to express his deep sense of elation of his master’s return. Odysseus, however, is in an impossible situation — if he goes up to hug and greet his beloved dog, he will betray his disguise. Making the ultimate sacrifice, Odysseus musters the fortitude to continue walking, tears streaming down his face. As Odysseus enters his home, Argos takes his last breath after experiencing just a brief moment of happiness in an otherwise forlorn and anguished existence. Needless to say, a major ass-kicking awaits those who did this to sweet, innocent Argos. Bookshelf honors the noble dog, truly man’s best friend, by presenting the most famous dogs that grace the pages of literature (dog’s name, followed by breed if known, and literary work):

Argos, Odyssey by Homer
Blue, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Buck (St. Bernard-Scotch Collie) Call of the Wild by Jack London
Buller, The Human Factor by Graham Greene
Bulls-eye, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Crab, Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare
Cujo (St. Bernard), Cujo by Stephen King
Diogenes, Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
Fang (Mastiff), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Fluffy (Cerberus), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Garryowen, Ulysses by James Joyce
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Hound), Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Huan (Wolfhound), The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Jip (Lapdog), David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Laska, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Nana (Newfoundland), Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
Old Yeller, Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

Pilot, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Robinson Crusoe’s Dog, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Sounder (Coonhoud-bloodhound), Sounder by William Armstrong

Toto (Cairn Terrior), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
White Fang, White Fang by Jack London

Read related post: Epitaph to a Dog
The Best Movies for Dog Lovers
Best Dog Novels
Why Was Charles Schulz’s Comic Strip Called Peanuts?

For further reading: Dog-o-pedia by Mary Budzik (2008)

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