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

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  12,961 Ratings  ·  1,202 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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Popular Answered Questions

ATrueBookworm The main dog, Squirrel, does not die. I believe that a few dogs she meets in her journey do die, but I do not remember which ones.
Theresa Moon died because the author decided to do that, and unfortunately a lot of dogs suffer being hit by cars. I agree with you though, it is sad. :(

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 13, 2015 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 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 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.
Dec 24, 2008 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
Apr 20, 2010 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.
May 05, 2008 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 12, 2010 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
Sep 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Still one of my favorite books.
Nov 21, 2007 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
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dog-books, animals
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
Lucija The Reader
This book was just adorable and heart breaking at the same time, and I loved it! I think that this is one of the best rainy day reads, and I think that it is so cool to read a book from the dog's point of view. I loved all the characters except George and Mrs. Oliver. I liked Squirrel, Bone, Moon and Susan the most. The story was very interesting and not boring at all. I liked the writing and I would love to read more books from Ann M. Martin, beacause this one really deserves 5/5 stars!
Mason Noble
Oct 10, 2013 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.
Apr 19, 2012 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
Dec 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abuse
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
Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z and Naruto
Feb 21, 2010 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
Feb 18, 2015 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.
Eli Connors
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful :'-)
Rylee Bartel
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Personal Response: I thought A Dog’s Life was a great book. It was an easier read for me, and I never wanted to put it down. It was a little hard for me to finish reading it, though, because I lost my dog recently and that is all the book reminded me about. Just the way the dog was treated and what it went through made me feel bad for it. It did turn out to be a great book.

Plot Summary: A Dog’s Life was about a female stray dog that lived on her own most of her life after losing her family and a
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was very interesting and shows a whole new way to look at the life of a stray dog and what a dog can encounter and experience in the world by herself. The dog in the story is named squirrel and she is being raised by her mother and is taught skills on how to survive as a stray dog. But when her mother is taken away squirrel and the other dogs are forced in the world and encounters people that are brutal to animals and kind to them. THe book was kind of depressing because I like dogs a ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
it was the cutest book ever! i am totally going to look for buying it. It was really enjoyable and i think anyone who likes (loves, in my case)animals will definitely like thia book.
Elizabeth Trader
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I saw my neighbor's dog today and suddenly remembered that he looked like the cover of one of my favorite childhood books -- A Dog's Life. Reading it 10 years later, I can still attest to its greatness. Written from the perspective of a stray, Martin tells Squirrel's heartbreaking and resilient story with an honest voice. She addresses loss, abuse, and companionship in ways children can relate to, but still touched me today ❤ ...more
Cory Dorn
Sep 03, 2015 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
Feb 09, 2010 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
Haley F
Jan 19, 2016 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
Amy (Amysbookcorner)
It took me less then 24 hours, with around 8 hrs of sleep, to finish this heart-wrenching beautiful and emotional rollercoaster.

In this book we get to meet with Squirrel our protagonist and all the adventures she went through in her life. The story starts when Squirrel is born and where we can meet with her sibling and mother. We get to meet with the other animals as well throughout the book as she grows and goes on adventures.

I loved that the narrator was Squirrel it made the book more realis
Mar 13, 2015 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
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Allison Halat
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Personal Response
The book A Dogs life shows the hardships that stray dogs go through just to survive and how some humans treat animals. I do not understand how people can hurt animals. This book is told through the eyes of a dog about her life. I was happy when squirrel found her forever home. This shows that good things can happen to anyone.
A mother dog gave birth to two puppies named Squirrel and Bone. The puppies were born in a shed behind a house belonging to the Merrions. Squirrel and B
Oct 08, 2013 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 15, 2009 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
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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 30 May 21, 2014 02:31PM  
a dog's life 23 29 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...

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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!” 8 likes
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