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A Dog's Life: The Autobiography of a Stray (A Dog’s Life #1)

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,429 Ratings  ·  1,028 Reviews
Newbery Honor author Ann Martin's "heartwrenching and heartwarming" (Kirkus) dog story, now in paperback, with After Words bonus material.

Squirrel and her brother Bone begin their lives in a toolshed behind someone's summer house. Their mother nurtures them and teaches them the many skills they will need to survive as stray dogs. But when their mother is taken from them su
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Scholastic Paperbacks (first published October 1st 2005)
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Miranda Its an amazing book one of the best when i was young i don't remember which one dies but its a lovely book
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 17, 2015 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: cody, owned
I read this book after my 11 year old son. This took no convincing as it’s written by none other than the author of my favourite childhood series. This is third book I’ve read by her this year, the others being Snail Mail, No More and P.S. Longer Letter Later. The author is an advocate for animal shelters and even provides ideas and suggestions for youngsters to donate their time. So good!

This authors writing is perfect for kids around the age ten mark, she writes innocently and with simplicity.
Mar 09, 2009 Michelle rated it it was amazing
I didn't really expect to like this book much, but I picked up on a whim anyway. It had two basic strikes against it: (1) It's told from the dog's point of view, which can sometimes be really odd to read and (2) it's "juvenile fiction."

Well, I was wrong. This was a fantastic book and I wish I could read more like it! It tells the story of Squirrel and her brother, Bone, who are stray dogs born in a shed behind a house. After their mother leaves them, they depart together for parts unknown. The b
Dec 02, 2008 Katherine rated it really liked it
A Dogs Life is about a stray mutt named Squirlle, who was born in a shed with her mom (Stream) and her brother (Bone). It's a really sad book, and it actually made me cry at times.
Apr 21, 2010 Audrey rated it really liked it
I never realized how hard the life of a stray dog could be. In this book you meet Squirrel's mother and brother, and his good friend Moon. You realized that dogs really make strong relationships with eachother. The book has a wonderful plot and I recommend it to help you understand more about the feelings of dogs. Also you realize that what people do is very important.
Dec 26, 2008 Dusty rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2008
A Dog's Life is a popular (and apparently commonly taught) piece of youth literature that imagines the life of a stray dog who is born in the bed of a wheelbarrow, who wanders between towns and farms for most of her life, and who finds a restful happy end with the old woman who takes her in. The story is narrated by the stray dog -- her name in Dog is Squirrel -- and while this is a unique set-up (the only other literature I've read from the perspective of a dog is a short piece by Mario Benedet ...more
May 05, 2008 Ginger rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
The saddest and most "touching" *sniff sniff* book I've ever read...If you love animals lou'll love this book!
Nov 13, 2010 Sheila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dog-books
Okay, I really wanted to like this story, I really did. And at the very beginning, I thought I would. But the further I got into the story, the more it started to annoy me. Probably 90% of the people this dog comes in contact with are total morons and dog haters, and I really can't believe that a dog could live for 9-10 years as a stray and only find total idiots, and only be adopted by total idiots until the very end. And of course the Animal Control Officers in this book have to be portrayed a ...more
Nov 21, 2007 Amanda rated it it was amazing
I read this book to my eight-year-old and would highly recommend it to parents who still read to their older children. It may be too sad on many occasions for younger children to handle. The book has a melancholy ending that we could feel good about, but it will certainly make you want to hug your own dogs many times over. We talked about the book and how it could apply to people as well as dogs - a great conversation starter. Again my caution for younger kiddoes. It is violent in parts and one ...more
Aug 15, 2014 Laney rated it it was amazing
Still one of my favorite books.
May 23, 2012 Megan rated it it was ok
Shelves: animals
I love books about animals, especially when the story is told from their perspective. But this book doesn't have that "special something" that other animal books have that I've read. It seemed like the author enjoyed writing it but didn't put her heart into it. I felt like I was being lectured about the horrors a stray dog may experience out in the world and how we should take action, instead of a story about a dog trying to find someone who would love and care for her.

The story really dragged i
Mason Noble
Oct 10, 2013 Mason Noble rated it it was amazing
A Dog's Life by Ann M. Martin, Juvenile Fiction was a great book! I recommend this book to anyone who likes Juvenile Fiction but to also anyone who loves dogs. It says that this is an Autobiography of a stray but we all know that dogs can't right a book about their life. Ann M. Martin really captured one dogs life in this story and made it really seem like the dog was writing it, I thought that was pretty amazing.

This book is about a dog that has very bad luck and gets pushed away from everyone.
Jan 08, 2011 Jackie rated it it was ok
An extremely depressing, no-nonsense book about the life of a stray dog. Virtually every form of animal abuse is covered in the story...starvation, cruelty, abandonment, and reckless injury is brought upon Squirrel after her mother's death. Although the abuse is more frequent than animal lovers care to admit, it evidently does happen. It is hard to fathom that this is a young reader's introduction to animal welfare issues, for its relentless episodes of abuse after abuse. Squirrel lives ten year ...more
Mar 06, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it
A warning should be attached to this book. "You may never look at strays the same after reading this story." I've always been sensitive to the hardships that strays, dogs and cats, suffer and am easily led to leave some food or water about for such animals. In fact, I honestly am not a cat person, but I took in a stray cat and it stayed for 22 years (lol). This sweet narrative by Ann Martin is told from the first person viewpoint of the stray dog known as Squirrel and grabs you from the moment o ...more
Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z and Naruto
Feb 21, 2010 Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z and Naruto rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
This book almost made me cry because the story of what happens in the book is such a terrible story. The sstory is based on true stories of a life for strays. its about a dog who's mother was shot and killed in the forest. they were living in a farm with no one to care for them execpt for there mother. this story is really a sad one. especilly when the dog and her brothers and sisters were all sepreated. I learned that all the things that happen in this book happens to most of the strays all aro ...more
Haley F
Jan 22, 2016 Haley F rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How would you feel if your mom left you, you lost your brother and had to hunt for your own food by yourself ? In the book, A Dog’s Life written Ann M. Martin, she takes you on a averturnets journey. I was attracted to this book because I really love my three dogs I have at my home. So I thought it would be neat to read about what a “dog’s life” is really like.
The main characters in the book are Squirrel and Bone. The story starts off by the two dogs getting trained by their mother. Then one d
Dannuel Saùl Delizo
Jun 26, 2014 Dannuel Saùl Delizo rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals
This autobiography of a stray was a nice read. Squirrel lost his mother and brother Bone when she was just a puppy. Certainly, there was no room for a human in her heart. She faced harmful adventures and suffered under firey wounds. She had seen her best friend hit by a whooshing truck and been kept by a cruel family. She starved for a long time in search of Bone but she failed finding him. Until one day, when Squirrel was decrepit and weak, she found Susan. The old woman did not expect she coul ...more
Cory Dorn
Nov 03, 2015 Cory Dorn rated it it was amazing
Personal Response:
I thought the book was pretty good but depressing in the middle part.

The book starts with Squirrel and Bone and their mother living at the Merrions shed, because they are strays. They live with cats and mice and a fox and her babies living under the other shed. The fox dies and the babies walk off, Bone and Squirrel’s mothers walk off and never comes back. Leaving the Merrions behind. Then Squirrel and Bone get discovered by the Merrions son, Matthias. The Merrions son fe
May 07, 2015 Julie rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
Ages 3rd-7th grade

I did a little fan-girl squealing when I saw that this book was by Ann M. Martin, author/creator of my beloved Babysitter's Club books. Of course, it was nothing like the BSC, but much to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I don't normally like animal stories, so I'm very glad I had the chance to read this.

This story is told through the eyes of a stray dog, Squirrel. I thought it was wonderful how, although Squirrel thinks and seems to understand in a human way, there wasn't th
Jillian Finelli
Apr 28, 2015 Jillian Finelli rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 09, 2010 Mindy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like sad stories and dogs
Recommended to Mindy by: my friends, Mimi and Yo
A Dog’s Life
By: Ann M. Martin
Book Review by Mindy

Born in a wheelbarrow and ending up in a cozy house with Susan, I’ve had my share of adventures. Going from Mother and Bone to Bone to Moon to Susan, I’ve had my share of losses too. In my autobiography, I tell the reader all about my adventures and losses. Here is what happened in my life.
The wheelbarrow in the Merrions’ shed was the spot my mother chose to give birth to Bone, my brother, and me, Squirrel. We had 3 other siblings, but they didn
Oct 08, 2013 Jessica rated it it was amazing
A Dog's Life, may have been One of the Best books i have read in grade school. Actually I only remember Ann M. Martin as being my favorite up till 9th grade.
A pup named Squirrel is born in a rustic old shed. Seeing as how it was the only place a stray dog could give birth and still nurture her small pups away from harm. Or so she though.

Squirrel Began her adventure at a very small age along with her brother Bone. Being Picked up alongside the highway the pups were terrified, The people who ha
Mar 27, 2009 Taylor rated it it was amazing
A Dog's Life by Ann M. Martin was really touching. It pulls you out of the real world and puts you in a whole new one with these dogs, Squirrel and Bone. Squirrel and Bone were born as strays and are taught by their mother to fear humans. One day their mother goes out for food like any other day and she never returns for them. They knew then that she wasn't ever going to return. Now just as young puppies they're on their own for survival. This book is told from the dog, Squirrels point of view ...more
Abby H
May 09, 2013 Abby H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Dog's Life
Ann M. Martin
182 pages

Ever wandered what a dog might be thinking? A dog named Squirrel and her brother Bone once had a mother who took care of them,taught them,feed them and nurtured them. When their mother disappears they have to learn how to be a stray. She will have to go through dangerous passage ways, weather climate, and loathing people. When Squirrel makes friends life as a stray was all different now.

My thoughts on the book were exhilarating. The book was such
Alexandra Nieman
When I first purchased this novel in the 4th grade, it sat on my bookshelves for months because I was so nervous to read it. Boy, am I glad I did!
For a juvenile fiction novel it was very touching and sad. The dog, Squirrel suffers some pretty tough hardships. My own dog was a stray and is a Border Collie just the like Squirrel. He even looks nearly identical to the dog on the cover. I think that's what drew me into the story and made me wary about reading it the first time. There was definately
Feb 19, 2015 Charles rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I liked it pretty well. Very nice ending. Although told from a dog's point of view, it seemed to be told primarily in a very human fashion. I might have liked it to have been a bit more "animal like," but it was a quick read and held my interest. This is really a young adult or juvenile age book but I'm always a sucker for animal stories.
Nida Fauzi
Mar 11, 2010 Nida Fauzi rated it it was amazing
Squirrel adalah anjing gelandangan kesepian yang malang. Hidup berpindah-pindah, merindukan kasih sayang manusia. Kadang dia melongok kedalam rumah-rumah yang hangat, namun tak pernah diundang masuk. Kadang dia harus tinggal di garasi, gudang, atau di bawah kereta sorong, lalu meneruskan perjalanannya.

Sesekali ada pula manusia yang berbaik hati memberinya makanan, namun ada juga yang memperlakukannya dengan kejam. Setelah berkali-kali dikecewakan manusia, Squirrel memutuskan untuk hidup sendiri
Josianne Fitzgerald
I didn't realize this was a companion novel to Everything for a Dog, so at first was surprised it was t in my Goodreads feed when I knew I'd read a book about a dog called Squirrel who's separated from her brother when they are puppies.

I enjoyed this one just as much as the other one.
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 14, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it really liked it
A Dog's Life is an incredibly tragic but well-written book about Squirrel, a stray dog, who lets readers view the world of homelessness, abuse and cruelty through the eyes of an animal. It's almost a modern Black Beauty or Beautiful Joe, with the same message of humanity and welfare of animals.
Natalia Lopez
Sep 04, 2012 Natalia Lopez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was by far a favorite of mine. It involved a boarder collie named Squirrel. This dog goes through a journey where she faces different surcumstances. This book touched my heart and made me think of my own dog's life. There were some senes where I just got so emotional because of how horrific it sounded. This book with win the heart of any animal lover. I recomend this book to anyone looking for a book that will make them think twice about what they see in their everyday lives. Who know, ...more
Alexandria Crawford
Dec 15, 2011 Alexandria Crawford rated it it was amazing
I really enjoy reading this book because I really didn't expect what I read in this.I thought this book was going to be all goody goody but it wasn't.It really crush my heart how this dog was in and out of homes shelters.This dog made a living the hard way not the easy like the other dogs that have other people taking care of them.This dog made living out of eating out of trash cans,in and out of woods and a hold lot of experiences.But at the end the dog really came together and was also love by ...more
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What's The Name o...: (SOLVED) children s book about dogs [s] 4 23 Nov 23, 2014 10:50AM  
What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Help! Book about a dog named Squirrel (I think)? [s] 13 27 May 21, 2014 02:31PM  
a dog's life 23 26 Nov 17, 2013 03:10AM  
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Ann Matthews Martin was born on August 12, 1955. She grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, with her parents and her younger sister, Jane. After graduating from Smith College, Ann became a teacher and then an editor of children's books. She's now a full-time writer.

Ann gets the ideas for her books from many different places. Some are based on personal experiences, while others are based on childhood me
More about Ann M. Martin...

Other Books in the Series

A Dog’s Life (2 books)
  • Everything for a Dog

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“The long-ago days - the days of Mother and Bone and the shed - have become fuzzy and have blended with images of Moon, of my travels, of other people and houses, of hiding places; a tangle of memories leading to Susan. I burrow into her side and listen to her heartbeat. With my eyes closed, I might be in the straw-filled wheelbarrow again, nestled against Mother, listening to the first heartbeat I knew. I open my eyes and tilt my head back to look at Susan's lined face. She smiles at me, and we sit pressed into each other, two old ladies.” 8 likes
“I really loved this book. I did for a school book report last year and I really got into it I just couldnt take my eyes of! You really absolutley need to read this book!” 7 likes
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