How dog stories have historically developed

The History of Dog Stories

We’ve been telling animal stories, of course, for as long as we’ve told yarns. And we no doubt told stories of our own dogs around ancient camp fires.

Our earlytales mixed myth, dream and fantasy with the real world. Our legends told of talking animals, including dogs. So did the tales of the Greek slave named Aesop. Well into the Nineteenth Century, dogs in literature were mostly creatures of fancy, often talking and thinking like humans, on which they were really based. Kipling’s JUNGLE TALES, an international bestseller, is a good example of the fantasy-form.

Sir Charles G D Roberts, a Canadian author born in 1860 in Douglas, New Brunswick, changed that.

Roberts grew up watching animals, both domestic and in the wild Northwoods, and wanted to write about them as they really lived. He said that the exciting adventure lies in the effort to ‘get under the skins,’ so to speak, of these shy and elusive beings. He didn’t want to write about human nature in animal form, but was determinedto write yarns about animals that caught their emotions and thoughts. In so doing, Charles G D Roberts created the one native Canadian art form: the Realistic Animal Story.

Although Roberts wrote about domestic animals such as dogs, it was the animals of the wilderness that caught his attention. Powerful stories such as The Passing of the Black Whelps and Wild Motherhood told stories of wolves, moose and bears. His books include THE LURE OF THE WILD and HAUNTERS OF THE SILENCES.

Fellow Canadian Ernest Thompson Seton followed with WILD ANIMALS I HAVE KNOWN (1898), giving the animal story a new credibility and power as a literary genre. Two stories from this book told of dogs: Bingo, the Story of My Dog and Wully, the Story of a Yaller Dog.

In 1903, Jack London’s masterpiece THE CALL OF THE WILD appeared.

When Jack London wrote THE CALL OF THE WILD, he wrote the seminal Northwestern novel.

Jack London had already written THE SON OF THE WOLF and A DAUGHTER OF THE SNOWS, themagazine short story ‘To Build a Fire,’and would follow THE CALL OF THE WILD with his wilderness story of the wolf-dog WHITE FANG, a classic work of animal fiction.

Although many consider the 20th Century/Darryl Zanuck movie version of THE CALL OF THE WILD, starring Clark Gable as John Thornton, to be the best version, my personal favorite is the later Ken Annakin Film production, starring Charlton Heston. Heston — and Annakin — captured the spirit and character of Jack London the man and author better than anyone else has.

The theme of domesticity to savagery in THE CALL OF THE WILD and its opposite — savagery to domesticity in WHITE FANG, is a deeply human theme that is the soul of the Northwestern, and needs more exploration… -Brian Alan Burhoe, author of WOLFBLOOD: A Northwestern Story…

The American Jack London wrote of dogs against the background of the Klondike Gold Rush, red-coated members of the North-West Mounted Police, prospectors, trappers, outlaws and the white wilderness of the Alaskan and Canadian Northwest. His literary masterpieces created a demand for more. Read More

Wolf Dog Kazan

Kazan The Wolf Dog

KAZAN lay mute and motionless, his gray nose between his forepaws, his eyes half closed.

A rock could have appeared scarcely less lifeless than he; not a muscle twitched; not a hair moved; not an eyelid quivered.

Yet every drop of the wild blood in his splendid body was racing in a ferment of excitement that Kazan had never before experienced. Every nerve and fiber of his wonderful muscles was tense as steel wire.

Quarter-strain wolf, three-quarters ‘husky,’ he had lived the four years of his life in the wilderness.

He had felt the pangs of starvation. He knew what it meant to freeze. He had listened to the wailing winds of the long Arctic night over the barrens. He had heard the thunder of the torrent and the cataract, and had cowered under the mighty crash of the storm. His throat and sides were scarred by battle, and his eyes were red with the blister of the snows.

He was called Kazan, the Wolf Dog, because he was a giant among his kind and as fearless, even, as the men who drove him through the perils of a frozen world.

He had never known fear–until now. He had never felt in him before the desire to <irun–</inot even on that terrible day in the forest when he had fought and killed the big gray lynx. He did not know what it was that frightened him, but he knew that he was in another world, and that many things in it startled and alarmed him.

It was his first glimpse of civilization.

He wished that his master would come back into the strange room where he had left him. It was a room filled with hideous things. There were great human faces on the wall, but they did not move or speak, but stared at him in a way he had never seen people look before. He remembered having looked on a master who lay very quiet and very cold in the snow, and he had sat back on his haunches and wailed forth the death song. But these people on the walls looked alive, and yet seemed dead.

Suddenly Kazan’s ears became erect. He heard steps, then low voices. One of them was his master’s voice. But the other–it sent a little tremor through him! Once, so long ago that it must have been in his puppy-hood days, he seemed to have had a dream of a laugh that was like the girl’s laugh–a laugh that was all at once filled with a wonderful happiness, the thrill of a wonderful love, and a sweetness that made Kazan now lift his head as the man and woman came in.

He looked straight at them, his red eyes gleaming. At once he knew that the girl must be dear to his master, for his arm was about her. In the glow of the light he saw that her hair was very bright, and that there was the color of the crimson <ibakneesh </ivine in her face and the blue of the <ibakneesh </iflower in her shining eyes. Suddenly she saw him, and with a little cry darted toward him.

‘Stop!’ shouted the man. ‘He’s dangerous! Kazan-‘



SERGEANT PRESTON: That’s my job. You can trail him, can’t you, King?


SGT. PRESTON: (fading) Yes, boy, come along.Let’s go!


ANNOUNCER: Sgt. Preston and King hurried through the town and down to the river where the large ice flows, piled one on top of the other, formed a natural bridge from one side of the Yukon to the other.

YUKONKING panting…

ANNOUNCER: They ran across it. On the far side the Sergeant found the fresh tracks left by the man and girl in the melting snow. Read More