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A Dog's Tale Paperback – October 25, 2013
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What this dog goes through is heartbreaking and you should know that before you read it. Mark Twain does a great job of presenting this anti-vivisection tale and even more depressing when you realize that it has been 102 years since his death and we are still using dogs for research.
Don't not read it, but do be aware of what you are in for when you begin this story story.
It is a sad story about the dark side of human nature and the light side of a dog's nature. You fall in love with the main character instantly and feel its pain and confusion. It makes you want to hug every dog you see on the street and tell them its going to be ok.
I agree wholeheartedly that in all, it is an upsetting story. I also agree that it is probably not suitable for young children. Speaking as someone who shares his life with three dogs, one reading was certainly enough for me. However, there are deeper things at work here, and they should be looked into.
Consider that "A Dog's Tale" was written very early in the twentieth century.. This was a time when treatment of animals did not measure up to the same standards we as a society hold today. In fact, animal cruelty was societally acceptable. Levels of animal abuse that will have you in court in today's world were utterly unremarkable then. The dog was yours; you could do anything you wanted to do to it, good or bad.
What "A Dog's Tale" does very well is put the reader in the dog's life to experience firsthand the astounding cruelty being dished out by the dog's "scientifically detached" owner. The man demonstrates no sympathy or caring at all for his own dog, but through the story, Twain certainly elicits it from the reader! And I propose that this was the point; to make the reader think about the way they treated animals then. Twain was someone who saw much pain in his own life, and it's my personal belief that he probably disliked people that casually inflicted pain. Such people would be a ripe target for an iconoclast such as him.
All in all, a superbly crafted story, even if it is disturbing. Being disturbing, I think, was very likely the whole point. Don't get completely wrapped up in the emotion, look deeper. Five stars for making us think.
Added on 1 /30 /2012
I found this in a book of Twain's quotes the other day; I think it leaves little doubt as to where he stood in regards to cruelty to animals:
"I believe I am not interested to know whether Vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't. To know that the results are profitable to the race would not remove my hostility to it. The pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity towards it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further."
It tugged at my heart strings... Hand to Mark Twain to write the truth of life in a story-telling form and make me wonder even more about human nature.