The Blue House Dog lovingly illustrates the bond between kids and canines
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A scrappy shepherd mix roams the streets of a tree-lined New York neighborhood. His elderly owner gone, the dog is lonely, hungry, possibly afraid – but he has an ally in a young boy who brings him plates full of ham, franks and other savories. Over time, the nameless pooch, who has one blue eye, one brown, comes to trust his young friend, and the rest, as they say, is history.

That’s the crux of Deborah Blumenthal’s newest children’s book, The Blue House Dog (Peachtree Publishers, $15.95), inspired by the true story of a pup who wandered Astoria, N.Y., after his owner presumably died. “People felt warmly toward him, this poor homeless animal, feeding and caring for it in their own ways,” Blumenthal tells

The dog’s plight was chronicled in the New York Times in 2001; neighbors spoke of the handouts they offered him, why they chose to protect him instead of calling animal control, and the nicknames they’d given to him (Lucky, Trixie, Abraham and Diablo, to name a few).

But one day, a Brooklyn man who ran rescue organization Mighty Mutts from his basement came to capture the dog, with the intent to rehabilitate him and place him with a loving family. The pup, then renamed Tommy, was treated for worms and adopted out.

In The Blue House Dog, things go a bit differently. Blumenthal’s protagonist not only feeds the dog, but watches as he hides from the dog catcher, almost gets hit by a car and grows more weary. Eventually, he nicknames him Blue, and invites him into his home, where he ultimately stays. It’s a sweet ending for any pet lover (Blumenthal herself has a rescue dog and adopted cat), and meaningful message: just because you’re lost in life doesn’t mean you’re totally alone.

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