I grew up in North West Arkansas a few miles from where this novel depicts the life of a boy and his dogs. So I lived part of this life. I took my Dad to see the movie and he cried like a baby, saying "this is the story of my life as a 12 year old boy!" Dad and I loved this story and can watch it over and over again. Rest of my family thinks it is too sad, and they don't like sad movies. Truth is they have never bonded with a dog and the out doors. Growing up as a boy, you and your dog(s) are inseparable! Our dogs were not tied up or fenced in. They had a dog house to protect them from the elements. But they never strayed or ran off. They were a part of our family. Dog years are like 10 human years. So you know that your dog is only going to last 7 to 10 years. And then you get another one. They are all special and unique in their own way. And you can never really replace them. But you love them all. If you have several children, and some one asks you which child do you love most, and you reply "all of them!"
So you get another dog, and you and that dog bond in a special way. Watching a movie or reading this book floods your memories of all the dogs you have had and the memories of growing up with each of them. Yes you will laugh and cry! But to me it is not sad, just a reminder of happy and care free days growing up!
Wilson Rawls is a Cherokee Indian and an excellent story teller.