For any young dog lover A Dog on His Own is a great reading choice. The main character is K-10, a stray dog who is captured and placed in an animal shelter as we begin his story. His mother named him K-10 because most dogs are K-9 (canine) and he is a step above the rest.
K-10 has had six different owners and he no longer trusts humans; they are always disappointing him. He has decided he prefers the freedom of being loose on the streets without depending on anyone else–human or canine.
K-10 meets other dogs in the shelter: Tucker, Pearl and Peppy. The tentative friendships he begins with each of them serve to teach him about loyalty and trust. Along his journey K-10 joins a “pack” consisting of two cruel dogs who promise to protect and feed him as long as he does whatever they say. Unfortunately what K-10 must do is often dangerous and unkind to innocent bystanders and his new friends.
There’s nothing extraordinary about the story but it is nicely plotted with some clear and distinctive characters in the hilarious chihuahua Peppy and the evil duo of Adolf and Rotter. It’s very similar in tone, theme and character to The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford in which three pets (2 dogs and a cat) set out to find their owners who have gone on an extended trip and end up traveling 300 miles to be reunited with their loving humans.
Auch’s version is more appropriate for early elementary age (1st through 4th grades). If you enjoy A Dog on His Own be sure to check out the Walt Disney film remake of Burnford’s book titled Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993) which is a great family film and available at most libraries!