Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bulu by Dick Houston

BULU : African Wonder Dog by Dick Houston

Book talk Part 1:

Our family dog is a Shih Tzu. If you know Shih Tzus then you know they are notorious for their fearless and independent ways. They act so tough it's as if they could take on a Great Dane. It’s no wonder Shih Tzus look and act like little lions. They were bred to live in Chinese palaces, little lions to inhabit the halls of emperors.

This summer I read in a local newspaper about a Shih Tzu that was on the loose. The normally fearless Shih Tzu named Gizmo had run away from home because it was averse to one thing: fireworks. On a balmy July night, Gizmo got spooked and tore off for the next county. He didn’t return. Gizmo’s family, friends, and neighbors looked everywhere. They called the humane society. They posted pictures. They waited.

Three weeks passed and then a telephone call renewed their hopes. The family rushed to a place just a few miles northwest of our school. The atrophied dog didn’t look like Gizmo. It had pokers sticking out, his ribs protruded like hoops, and one eye looked punctured. Behind the matted coat laced with sand burrs was Gizmo, but how had he survived? What dangers had he encountered? If Gizmo could tell us, his story would surely be a harrowing tale of adventure and survival.

To imagine what Gizmo experienced makes me think about a book called, BULU: African Wonder Dog, by Dick Houston.

Part 2:

Anna and Steve Tolan were warned not to have a pet in the African bush. They were forewarned that this would only lead to heartache. Pets are hardly ever seen in the African bush for a domesticated animal is an easy meal for a leopard, lion or crocodile. Yet, Steve and Anna heard about a farmer that had a litter of puppies for sale. They couldn’t resist a look.

Many people could probably tell you not to buy the last of the litter, and sure enough there was something odd about the part-terrier with a single spot on his back. The farmer told Steve and Anna that the dog was independent, unresponsive to people. However, to Steve there was something strangely familiar about this dog. He said, “You know, there’s a world of difference between personality and character. My mother always told me that still waters run deep.” This puppy had character. Like a little lion he was practically fearless.

[show pics on p. 5, 15]

The dog they named Bulu wasn’t dumb or unfriendly. In fact, Bulu would prove to do things that would seem impossible for most dogs. However, Bulu's life would be lived in world of constant danger. For example, Steve and Anna learned that Bulu’s mother had recently been killed by a croc. A visitor at the farm had thrown a stick into the river. The dog of course couldn’t resist and jumped into the water to fetch it back. As the dog swam back to shore with the stick in its mouth a croc pulled the dog under and spun into a death roll. You might wonder, as Steve and Anna did, if Bulu would face a similar fate one day?

If you like stories about dogs then I would like to recommend, Bulu: African Wonder Dog, by Dick Houston. It is the rare combination of a true story that reads like a suspense novel.

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