Most talking animal graphic novels I’ve read recently have put animal heads on humanoid bodies. Good Dog is more of a back-to-basics Watership Down sort of book, giving real dogs human-like intelligence. They talk to one another in English, although the humans in the story still just hear it as barking.
The book follows a stray called Ivan, as he tries to work out his purpose in life. He knows dogs with owners, some of whom don’t care about their pets, and he meets others that seem to have a relatively good life. He then finds a pack of strays, who talk of the freedom of the wild and are lead by a handsome hound, closer to a wolf than a domestic dog.
It’s a pivotal moment in Ivan’s life, as he must choose between domesticity and the call of the wild. The fragility of life and the knowledge that, whichever path he chooses, he’s going to have to leave behind dogs he loves, makes this a poignant and charming book.
Whether you like dogs or not, this disarming tale packs an emotional punch and leaves you with plenty to think about. It puts human problems into a canine world, but maintains an appropriate balance between the two, giving the story a feeling of universality that might have you looking at dogs in a slightly different way.