I hadn't thought of them in years when Patrick Porter, flower grower, dog and pigeon man, and too- infrequent writer, asked our small pigeon group about a particular childhood volume. We couldn't quite find that one but (much younger but with a rural Maine background) climatologist Jacob Sewell and I both suddenly began to remember an amazing variety.
"Does anyone remember a book from the early seventies [late for this "genre"--SB]about a large dog dumped from a family vehicle and then fends for itself somewhere in the northern states (Minnesota or something)? I think it was titled "The Big Dog". Dog gets dumped, dog gets blamed for sheep kills, boy finds and befriends dog and both are redeemed. It was a pleasure to read, and as my children struggle with literary interest, I thought I'd shove it at them. They are interested in the subject matter.
"In this book, wolves are referred to as "Manitoba Cruisers".
"I have to admit I don't. I don't know what age/reading demographic your children are in but if dog/animal stories are up their alley you could always push the Jim Kjelgaard books (Big Red, Outlaw Red, Stormy, Lion Hound etc.). All about dogs. The main core about Irish Setters and bird hunting, but others on a lion hunting hound, trapping a fox, a sled dog, a stray retriever, others I may be missing. All good books. As you are a setter (English) man there are two older books one title "Wild Hunter" about an English Setter spotted hunting pheasant wild in a farm field. Boy buys her from farmer (who used her to herd cows), trains her into gun dog, she is shot by a buffoon and becomes gun shy. Saves boy from some mishap and in process overcomes her fear of guns. Another book titled "Raff" and maybe with the subtitle of "Story of an English Setter" that is also about bird hunting with, obviously, English Setters. On bird hunting there is also "Prince Champion Cocker" about a runt, golden cocker purchased as a pet, turns out to have great hunting drive and becomes a field trial champion.
"I was also (still am) a fan of any of Louis L'Amour's books as a kid. Max Brand also wrote some good books, not as big a fan of his traditional westerns which tend to be very cookie cutter dime novel, but he also salted things through with books on, or related more to animals that I recall really liking. One titled "Sled Dog Man" or something about a guy who lives in AK and is obsessed with creating the perfect sled dog via breed crossing. The protagonist gets roped in as his employee on a bet/dare and finds that he has produced the perfect sled dog, but they are untractable killers. Protagonist tames dogs and creates finest sled team ever. I think he also wrote one about an orphan kid who grows up as a mountain man with a "pet" bear. There are also several books, names escape me, about sight hounds (wolf/deer hounds usually) in the west.
"Hope that helps. I'm ready to go hide out in a sunny corner with a stack of childhood nostalgia."
"Those are all ones I was thinking of but written in the thirties, forties,
fifties (last is when I read them). Also many herding collie ones, mostly
set in Scotland-- Bob, Son of Battle; Beth, a Sheep Dog by Ernest Lewis--
this also has falconry and lurchers!--I actually still have a copy.) Awol,
about a Doberman who was in the Pacific war-- I think this was a series. A
book with Lady in the title about a basenji who was also a bird dog--!"
Finally Jake again:
"You are right, I read the Basenji one too -- I believe they lived in the swamp? Also the herding collies, though I wasn't as fond of those books as they tended to be longish and the plot lines run together. But I recall Bob, Son of Battle. And one about "Lad". I forgot in the "hound" genre -- The obvious classic, "Where the Red Fern Grows". Also 'Bristleface" about a stray fox hound with a bristly face who turned out to be a rare breed of fox hound, and a good one. Another book, maybe with the word Ghost in the title, that was about fox hounds. A farm with a history of good fox hounds. Couple of kids train up a young dog and set him out with the dogs the old timers run (every night, just sit by the fire and let the dogs run). The dog has a beautiful voice but the kids keep it all under wraps. They sneak out there on the train and in the end the dog gets killed by the train, but a great book."
Stirred up by all this I searched the Intarwebz for an example and ended up buying this splendid copy, complete with dj, of Jim Kjelgaard's 1956 Desert Dog, about an escaped racing greyhound in Arizona.
REMARKABLY impossible dj photos for today: author showing child a rifle!
Nothing like them around today but Donald McCaig's well- written adult dog novels, though their success suggests that urban publishers may be missing a market.