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Dog Boy by Eva Hornung
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Dog Boy (2009)

by Eva Hornung

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Writing under the pseudonym of Eva Hornung and inspired by the true-life story of feral child Ivan Mishukov, Australian author Eva Sallis wrote Dog Boy. This novel won the Australian 2010 Prime Ministers writing prize. I found this an absolutely gripping story of a young child who, at the age of four, after being abandoned by his caregivers, stumbled upon a pack of wild dogs and was adopted by them. Set in and around the city of Moscow, this story was fascinating, moving and horrifying. To think that there are children living wild, right under the feet of the authorities, ignored by people who are too busy with their own lives to notice a stray child is a sad comment on society today.

In Dog Boy, the child is taken in by the pack, is sheltered, fed and cared for by them and eventually takes on the characteristics of a dog. He learns to hunt and protect the others of his pack. His sense of smell is developed and he learns to communicate in an entirely new manner. This is an intense story as this abused and neglected child has to figure out how to become part of the pack and fit in. Over the course of two years he becomes very successful at being a dog and he is only returned to his human form when a situation arises that requires him to be more “boy” and less “dog”.

In Dog Boy the author has created a remarkable character. This child is cunning and wild with a deep suspicion about the motives of humans as in his experience they can be cruel or neglectful while all he has encountered with the dogs is love and companionship. Even in the most desperate of times, dogs stay loyal to each other, while unfortunately the same cannot be said of humans. A word of warning, however, for those who do not wish to read of cruelty to animals, this book perhaps should be left on the shelf. But for me, this was an outstanding read and one I expect to remember for a very long time. ( )
4 vote DeltaQueen50 | May 11, 2017 |
I found this an interesting read, having just taken over the management of my daughter's dog. It gave me a different perspective on canine behaviour and assuming that Hornung had some factual backing behind her writing about dog behaviour, I think I did learn something. I'm really not sure that it shed much light on human behaviour, however - a topic in which I have much greater interest.
The story certainly has plenty of violence, but I am not convinced this is an accurate portrayal of canine behaviour, even for tribes of feral dogs. Regardless of its lack of verisimilitude, I can see that the violence is nonetheless an essential & integral part of the story being told and I wouldn't want any of the violence taken out.

I reckon there are quite a lot of logical inconsistencies in the story, not the least of which is the underlying premise of the whole book: that when he suddenly discovers he is 'home alone', a four year old child can survive for himself in Moscow by following and then living with a dog. I'm a person who prefers realistic plots, whereas this is more of a dystopian fantasy story? ( )
  oldblack | Jan 23, 2017 |
I absolutely adored this book. I bought it ages ago and I kept meaning to read it for a while but was busy reading another series. As I waited to source the next book of my other series, I grabbed the opportunity to tuck into this one. And I'm glad I did. It's has been reviewed as utterly compelling and it really is. Little Ramochka finds himself alone at home and no one comes home. Eventually he finds himself out on the streets of Moscow looking for food. He meets a dog and his new life begins. The dogs accept little Ramochka and soon he is living with them and living a dogs life. It's such a fascinating book. It's well written, interesting and also sad in many aspects. The reason this doesn't get 5 stars is because it slowed down in the middle when the focus shifted from the dogs and on to the staff at the children's centre. I kept wanting to go back to the Ramochka and the dogs. Anyway 4/5 for me. ( )
  Nataliec7 | Aug 8, 2016 |
I can't stop thinking about this book. It picked me up, made me cry, made me cringe, made me laugh, made me so happy I read it. The final scene often comes back to rattle my brains. We've all heard of dog boys and Russia probably comes to mind. It makes a fine novel when you think: "Wait... did this actually happen?" If it did, it would happen this way. Love is abandoned in despair and constantly sought by those abandoned. I don't know if I wanted Romochka to continue his life with the dogs or be "redeemed" by caring humans. It's been a few months now and I still can't decide. ( )
  catscritch | Oct 27, 2015 |
This was a very uncomfortable book to read. It is written from the point of view of a small child who is abandoned by all of the adults and end up living with a small pack of dogs. The language is easy, the story compelling and interesting at all stages.
If you want a book that get you out from your comfort zone without too much effort this is the book for you. ( )
  jessicariddoch | Jun 25, 2013 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eva Hornungprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cendrowska, BarbaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chatain, Jean-NoëlTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eistrup, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gelder, Cherie vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goñi, Eduardo IrriarteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gunkel, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lemos, JulianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Liuzzi, ClementinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parisi, DanieleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sandberg, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The first night was the worst.
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We are the only dish on the table.
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A four-year-old boy named Romochka is abandoned by his mother and uncle and left to fend for himself on the streets of Moscow, with uncounted millions of homeless children and adults. He follows a stray dog to its home in a deserted church celler. There he joins Mamochka, the mother of the pack, and six other dogs and slowly he forgets his human attributes to survive two fiercely cold winters. Romochka attracts the attention of local police, street urchins, and finally, scientists.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1921520426, 1921656379

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