First published in 1957, this is one of those classic dog books that everyone who ever read it remembers. Much as they remember the great Canadian novelist Farley Mowat—for his wry humor, his marvelous use of language (his father was a librarian), his passion for animals in all forms and the outdoors in all its glory, and his seemingly endless series of misadventures. Mowat and his family moved to Saskatoon in 1929. His father had (for reasons never completely explained) taken the position of librarian in this remote Canadian frontier town on the edge of a prairie enduring the ravages of the dust bowl, and set smack in a landscape “that appeared to be in the last stages of dry rot.” The journey was trying for his mother, but for Farley it was “a land foreign to all my imagination, and one that offered limitless possibilities for new kinds of adventure.” One adventure arrived at their doorstep that summer in the form of a black and white mongrel, snapped up for four cents by his enterprising and frugal mother, and was quickly named by Farley, to his father’s chagrin, “Mutt”. Mutt turned out to be a game changer, a dog of formidable character. He not only possessed extraordinary skills as a retriever (once going so far as to retrieve a plucked and trussed ruffed grouse from the grocer), but was a determined cat-hater, skunk-baiter, and ladder-scaler. He was, in short, the perfect companion for a boy with a fertile imagination and a preternatural way with words. So with some pride we return this classic to the ranks of the living, to occupy space alongside the equally improbable tales of other immortals like Gerald Durrell, Will Cuppy, and L. Rust Hills on our Nonpareil list. We make this promise with total confidence; if you like dogs, you will love this book.
The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be was, and will forever remain, one of my first and deepest literary loves. When I first read it as a child, it became my “gateway book” to Farley Mowat’s other great works, books which inspired me throughout my life. Re-reading it as an adult, in this beautiful edition, I fell in love all over again with the eccentric and talented Mutt, with Farley’s boyhood adventures, with the wild Saskatoon prairie. This classic remains one of the best biographies of an animal ever written–a masterful tribute to the bond between an extraordinary boy and an extraordinary dog.
— Sy Montgomery, author of Tamed and Untamed: Close Encounters of the Animal Kind
A deftly crafted memoir that still proves after the passage of 50 years to be an inherently fascinating and memorable read from cover to cover. — Midwest Book Review