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Paula's Young Adult Literature Website

Home | Topic 1 | Classic Novel | Graphic Novel | Printz Award | Topic 2 | Speak | Squashed | Annie on My Mind | Frenchtown Summer | Topic 3 | Chris Crutcher | Joan Lowery Nixon | Will Hobbs | Author Study - Biography | Author Study - Bibliography | Author Study - Analysis | Topic 4 | William Sleator | Phillip Pullman | Annette Curtis Klause | Topic 5 | Blood Secret | A Single Shard | Gary Paulsen | Millton Meltzer | Topic 6 | Heartbeat | Seeing the Blue Between | YA Poetry Collection

Gary Paulsen: My Life in Dog Years

Paulsen, Gary. 1998. MY LIFE IN DOG YEARS. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN: 0-385-32570-3.


MY LIFE IN DOG YEARS is a memoir of award winning author Gary Paulsen’s relationships with some of the dogs he grew up with.  The book begins with a touching dedication to his loving dog, Cookie, which saved his life during a sledding accident.  In the book, we learn that Paulsen’s parents were drunks and that he was a shy and lonely boy that depended upon dogs for companionship.  Each chapter begins with a pen and ink illustration of the subject dog and then describes the eight different dogs via touching stories involving each one.  For example, Paulsen describes the story of his first dog, Snowball, a dog he owned in the Philippines that saved him from being bitten by a poisonous snake, and then the book follows chronologically with stories about other dog companions that he had in his life.  Through the use of humor we learn about his dog, Fred.  Fred, who Paulsen states, “was the closest to being actually nuclear in his capacity for destruction,” was involved in the “Great Wire War.”  In this “war” Fred battled an electric fence, and won.  As we read his dogs' stories, we also learn a great deal about the author.  Paulsen, in effect, describes a lot about himself and his life through the use of stories involving his dogs. Booklist refers to MY LIFE IN DOG YEARS as, “Poignant but never saccharine, honest, and open, these engaging canine character studies are guaranteed to charm animal lovers and Paulsen’s fans.”   School Library Journal states that, “This well-written, readable reminiscence serves as a tribute to the dogs in one person's life, written by someone who considers them his best friends.”  MY LIFE IN DOG YEARS is an excellent book that will capture the interest of Paulsen fans as well as animal lovers.  It is poignantly written and gives readers a real sense of Paulsen and how he feels about these wonderful creatures.






This website was created as an assignment for LS 5623 at Texas Woman's University.