Animals in Literature


When a homeless dog shows up at the back door, a family takes him in, feeds and bathes him, and names him. Written entirely in haiku, the pet experience is a clever, fun introduction to the poetic form and an engaging lead-in to a class writing exercise, while students learn about the responsibilities of owning a pet!

Why use this book:

  • Highlights all that is involved in being a responsible pet owner

Animal Welfare Considerations:

  • In one of the illustrations a child is feeding the dog from the table. While some human food is ok for dogs to eat, some food (ie. grapes, raisins, chocolate, onions, etc.) are toxic to dogs. Remind students that it is best to give dogs dog food and treats.

Ask your students:

  • Pre-Reading Discussion Questions
    • Do you think you would want to be a pet owner when you are an adult? How much do you think it costs annually to take care of a pet?
    • Have you or anyone in your family ever come across a stray animal? What did you do about it? What are some other options of what you could do?
  • Post-Reading Discussion Questions
    • At the breakfast table, the girl hands the dog a piece of food. Is this a good practice? Why or why not?
    • Do you think it is safe for a dog to be sitting in the front seat of a car unrestrained?
    • What are some good practices that keep pets safe at home? In the yard?
    • In the story, the family gathers for a family meeting. Do you have family meetings at home? What type of topics does your family discuss?
    • Why does Mooch both love and hate the school bus?
    • Do you think using haiku is an effective way for the author to tell this story? Why or why not? Have you read other narratives that are told using poetry rather than prose?
    • Do you think the family tried to contact the original owner? What would you do if you do if you were in their position?
    • What should you do if you find a stray dog?


  • Experimenting with Haiku – Haiku is an ancient Japanese verse form consisting of only three lines whose purpose is to convey emotion. Although a haiku looks simple, it is can actually be a complex verse form.
    • Haiku form:
      • 5 syllables
      • 7 syllables
      • 5 syllables.
    • Example:
      • An idea knocks
      • I open, think, write, and smile.
      • And then it’s your turn.
        • Andrew Clements
  • Have students complete the Haiku activity sheet to familiarize them with writing a Haiku.
  • Dogs Dollars and Sense – This exercise involves research, estimating and budgeting. It’s a good way to give students an idea of the costs of pet ownership before commitment, as well as showing the variation between costs of purchase and adoption. To start, hand out Dog Dollars &  Sense activity sheet.  Students can then determine what sex, breed (or large, medium or small if mixed breed) and whether they will purchase or adopt from a shelter.The estimates will vary; students can research the costs several ways:
    • Looking online;
    • Looking through newspaper fliers;
    • Contacting groups or individuals for assistance.

    We have put some useful links on and in our Smart Board activity.


    There are many good dogs (and other pets) awaiting adoption at animal shelters.  Adoption fees are significantly lower than purchasing a dog at a store and can end up being lower that “free” animals found online. Adoption fees often include spay/neuter procedures, initial exams, vaccinations and microchips.

     Spaying and neutering is essential to addressing pet overpopulation.


    Amounts will vary, but you can expect adoption fees to range between $225-325 for a dog and about $450 for a puppy. Annual costs are typically in the $1500 to $2000 range.



Andrew Clements, 2007


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