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The Dog Who Wouldn't Be

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  2,925 Ratings  ·  194 Reviews
Farley Mowat's best loved book tells the splendidly entertaining story of his boyhood on the Canadian prairies. Mutt's pedigree was uncertain, but his madness was indisputable. He climbed trees and ladders, rode passenger in an open car wearing goggles and displaying hunting skills that bordered on sheer genius. He was a marvelous dog, worthy of an unusual boy growing up ...more
Paperback, 175 pages
Published June 28th 1980 by Jove Books (first published 1957)
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Community Reviews

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Debbie Zapata
Jul 27, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saturday
Every time I read this book I wish I could have known Mutt in 'person'. He was an incredible dog, and this story of Mowat's years with his companion is wonderful.

Here is a physical description of The Dog Who Wouldn't Be: In size he was not far from a setter....His hindquarters were elevated several inches higher than his forequarters; and at the same time he was distinctly canted from left to right. The result was that, when he was approaching, he appeared to be drifting off about three points t
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Caren
Aug 07, 2010 Caren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
If you haven't made the acquaintance of the Canadian author Farley Mowat, you are now in for a treat. Perhaps best known for his book "Never Cry Wolf", he is at his best when describing wildlife in the Canadian prairies where he grew up in the 1920s-1930s. At the height of the dust bowl/depression years, Farley's father, a librarian, moved the family from Ontario to the remote prairie town of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. At the very edge of town, the untamed natural life of the prairie beckoned. As ...more
Mary
May 17, 2016 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mutt is quite a character.
Lovely descriptions of the countryside.
Made me laugh!
Owen
Jul 15, 2012 Owen rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada, autobiography
This is a light-hearted book by Farley Mowat, a writer with whom we normally associate more serious texts. Yet Mowat is just as fun-loving as the next person and it comes out in this collection of stories about his youth in Ontario and Manitoba. Mutt, the dog of the book's title, is a dog who very reasonably refuses to act like one. So he won't hunt ducks properly or do much else that is reckoned too dog-like, at least while anyone's watching. Mutt was Mowat's constant companion throughout many ...more
East Bay J
I’ve heard The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be described as perhaps Mowat’s best work. I’m not sure if that’s true but it’s a great read.

Mowat had an amazing childhood full of experiences with wildlife in the great outdoors. Mutt the dog was Mowat’s companion as a kid, among a great menagerie that included owls, snakes, gophers and more. Mutt argued with the family, wore goggles in the car and couldn’t seem to leave a skunk alone. He was certainly a dog worth writing a book about. Mowat’s bemused language a
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Cheri Micheletti
Oct 09, 2011 Cheri Micheletti rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
DeB MaRtEnS
I own this exact book. It has been sitting on my shelves for a very, very long time and I've read it at least twice. It makes me howl with laughter every time. Yes.
Angela
This was a fun, light book with some undertone calling attention to the undesirable traits of human nature. I thought the last chapter was so eloquent and beautiful, I was there seeing everything. Spoiler Alert*** I was not surprised at the ending but disappointed (for the dog and his boy) at the manner in which it happened. However, I feel that it emphasized the underlying theme of human ugliness throughout the book. Ironically, Mutt (and other animals in the book) was portrayed very ...more
Ann
Feb 03, 2014 Ann rated it it was amazing
Oh my, do I love this book. Funny as to the dog's antics and the dad building the boat...a little heartbreaking about the owls. Mowat is one of my favorite writers to settle down with for a long, steady read; his style is comforting and challenging at the, oh, the same time. It was the dad and his travails with the boat trying to sail it from the dry prairie to the ocean that just made me howl out loud. Mowat and his changing collection of animals makes for a lively, warm, honest accounting of ...more
Susan Prudhomme
Jan 17, 2015 Susan Prudhomme rated it really liked it
This is a classic true-life children's story about a boy and his uniquely talented dog. The Mowat family is warm and loving, and the author knows how to turn a phrase for maximum humor. Even as an adult, I enjoyed it, although I thought some of the stories were "stretched" a little - but it all made for fun reading.
Raelene
Jan 10, 2009 Raelene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
I remember thinking this was such a very fun book. I was totally enthralled at the idea of the back seat opening out of the back of the car - outside and subject to all the wind and dust of the road - this, of course, is where the boy and his dog sat. Somehow, this description remains the most vivid in my imagination of all the other great ones in the book.
Jorgina
Sep 05, 2008 Jorgina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: youth, own-it
Same author wrote "Never Cry Wolf".
This review is by my Son and Father. They both read the book and highly praised its content and life's lessons. Both said they smiled all the while, laughed outloud and cried in the end. That's a lot coming from my dad who never reads fiction. My son recommends it for everyone.
Maureen
Mar 21, 2008 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It is about a dog and a family in Canada. The dog does not want to be a dog but more human. I read this book with my daughter, the second time I read it. I actually have read it three times.
Margo
Oct 04, 2008 Margo rated it it was amazing
This book was a family favorite, and as an adult I find each re-read is enjoyable as the first. This is my ultimate book for when I need to boost my spirits (although I find now I tend to avoid the ending.) Farley Mowat consistently delivered in his stories - how I wish there were more!
Chrisl
This multiple reread laugh out loud tale of a Mutt is my all time favorite animal story. The quick read kids' book "Owls in the Family" is a fun companion book.

Owls in the Family
Adrian
Feb 16, 2015 Adrian rated it really liked it
I've read it quite a while ago, in grade school and at home for enjoyment, but I think it was heartwarming and a nice slice of rural life in Canada.
Marianne
This book is one of the most heart warming, funny, wonderfully written books I have ever read, and I have read a LOT of books.
A must read for anybody who reads.

Mowat is an amazing writer.
Deborah Durbin
Dec 03, 2016 Deborah Durbin rated it really liked it
Parts of this book are laugh-out-loud funny. The dog definitely has a personality.
Scottsdale Public Library
This classic by one of Canada's most beloved writers describes with affection and much humor the author's memories of growing up in a small Saskatchewan prairie town during the Great Depression, the sharply-sketched human characters in and around his family, and the strongest, most eccentric character of all, the mutt that owned them. Mowat's deep knowledge of animals and his fondness for them comes through loud and clear in this remembrance. - Chris H.
Wayne S.
Dec 03, 2015 Wayne S. rated it really liked it
It is 1929, and eight year old Farley Mowat moves with his father and mother from the verdant depths of southern Ontario to the arid and dust-shrouded prairies of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, Canada, so that Mr. Mowat can take a new job as Saskatoon’s chief librarian. Shortly after arriving, Mrs. Mowat purchases, for four cents from a boy trying to sell ducks for a dime, a nondescript, bedraggled pup. Farley called him “Mutt” and wrote, “I suspect that at some early moment of his existence he ...more
Denise Spicer
Sep 08, 2016 Denise Spicer rated it it was amazing
If laughter is the best medicine, this book should probably be prescribed frequently.
It is a cute story about a boy and his experiences with the family pets. Living in the Saskatoon prairies of Canada during the 1930’s dustbowl era, the author (noted naturalist Farley Mowat of People of the Deer and Never Cry Wolf fame) recounts many amusing incidents with their goofy dog. “Mutt”, who climbs ladders, walks on fences and does other eccentric activities making him notorious in the community. Also
...more
Michael Loder
Jul 28, 2013 Michael Loder rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of biography
I believe I first read this story back in the 1950s at the time that it was Mowat's first book. I found the series of stories about growing up on the Canadian prairies to be whimsical, funny, rich in the use of language with a bit of nostalgia. Mowat had a light touch with just the right turn of phrase or word choice to exactly fit a character or incident in a reader's mind.
Each chapter is a separate story. Some are stronger than others. In the best, Mutt, the dog, is the central character. Oth
...more
Charity
Jul 30, 2014 Charity rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
This is another book I can't believe I missed until adulthood; I'm so glad my kids got to hear it at their young ages. My nine-year-old daughter loved it as much as I did. Yet another argument for avoiding labeling books as "for girls" or "for boys." (Not that I pay any attention to those labels anyway.)

I loved The Dog Who Wouldn't Be. The relationship between Mutt and his family---and especially Mutt and the author---was so pure and sweet, and there were so many hilarious parts, subtly written
...more
Diane
Jun 27, 2011 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Farley Mowat, according to some sources, doesn't let the truth get in the way of a good story. Readers of his book, The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, have probably figured that out. But who cares? The story of Mutt is worth reading despite the fact that some of it involved a little truth stretching. Mutt came into Mowat's life as a puppy at the same time his parents moved from Ontario to Saskatoon during the depression. Mowat was a kid and was happy to have a dog. His father, who had been searching for a ...more
Katherine
Sep 10, 2016 Katherine rated it really liked it
A Canadian classic, Mowat shares anecdotes (sometimes quite hilarious) about the family dog (and by extension, about the family itself) in the mid-20th century... which now seems very long ago indeed.
Maura
Aug 28, 2015 Maura rated it liked it
Published in 1957, the books starts out being a tale of a boy and his dog, but is also a sort of comic memoir of his family life during that time. That it's a different world is evident not just in his description of the geography - salty lakes far from any ocean, "bluffs" which are really just groves of trees, but also in general attitudes that are so different from today's. Cats and dogs roamed freely around town, and it was accepted that cats would naturally be preyed upon by dogs. Taking ...more
Laryn
Dec 11, 2009 Laryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this to my ten year old daughter who loves dogs and animals. There are some hilarious scenes, it is very much like what Garrison Keillor would write. One of the best is when the family is camping near a lake and two old lady bird watchers are commenting on the dog, how disgusting and smelly and the owner should be fined, etc. The family are all in a tent and can only hear the conversation. Finally the dad gets so mad he shouts out that that dog is his and he'll fight anyone who tries to ...more
Liz
May 12, 2016 Liz rated it it was amazing
I love Farley Mowat! His Owls in the Family is one of my favorite books of all time. The stories in The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be are also from Mowat’s childhood and feature Mutt, a dog his mother bought from a little boy selling ducks door-to-door. Mutt cost her four cents, and thwarted her husband’s dubious and expensive attempts to acquire a hunting dog. Mutt eventually proved to be a hunting dog – if an eccentric one! – and much more besides. Whether he was learning to climb trees, accompanying ...more
Sara
Jun 27, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Dog Who Wouldn't be was a great book. The genre of this book is non fiction. This book takes place in Saskatoon, a city in Saskatchowan, Canada. In the book Mutt the dog does some pretty amazing things. He walks on fences, climbs trees, chases cows, rides in boats, plays with owls and several other unusual un-dog like things. I have read Owls in the Family which is another good book by Farley Mowat. My Dad is the one who introduced me to the author Farley Mowat when he shared with me the ...more
Anita Chen
Jan 05, 2014 Anita Chen rated it really liked it
Shelves: january2014
The book "The Dog Who Wouldn't Be" is about a dog that was bought for 4 cents. Farley's mother was the one to buy the dog and Farley named him "Mutt". Mutt is somewhat obnoxious. Farley's father didn't think Mutt was a hunting dog and complained about it. Because of that, Farley's mother and Farley tries to show him the Mutt is more than what he thinks he is.

I picked up this book because one of my friends recommended it to me since they knew that I love dogs. Also think I have never read any if
...more
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Farley McGill Mowat was a conservationist and one of Canada's most widely-read authors.
Many of his most popular works have been memoirs of his childhood, his war service, and his work as a naturalist. His works have been translated into 52 languages and he has sold more than 14 million books.
Mowat studied biology at the University of Toronto. During a field trip to the Arctic, Mowat became outrag
...more
More about Farley Mowat...

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“The third time out he concluded that we were hunting cows.
That was a day that will live long in memory. Mutt threw himself into cow chasing with a frenzy that was almost fanatical. He became, in a matter of hours, a dedicated dog. It was a ghastly day, yet it had its compensations for Father. When we returned home that night, very tired, very dusty–and sans birds—he was able to report to Mother that her "hunting dog" had attempted to retrieve forty-three heifers, two bulls, seventy-two steers, and an aged ox belonging to a Dukhobor family.”
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