At 169 pages, it is a very short read and I’d think from the cover and title, this book is for kids but actually, it is aimed at adults. Scraggy was born in a litter of eight, being the strangest colored puppy in the litter with the most distinctive appearance. Unlike her mother and father, Scraggy bear a thick and curly black colored pelt which had probably came down from the dominate recessive gene rule. She wasn’t the most attractive puppy, but she was the one that could cause people to give her a second glance.
Scraggy’s owners were Grandpa and Grandma Screecher, who bred dogs for money. Scraggy–who was still a puppy then–had to watch in confusion as one by one, her remaining surviving siblings were taken away by people. From the start of her life, Scraggy had already had it hard. Her mother was described to shun her out as an outsider, and at least two of her litter-mates did not survive their puppyhood. She was also easily tormented by the cat next door. At a young age, Scraggy was forced to learn about the cycle of life. Scraggly learned that love and truth weren’t always wrapped up in the nicest of packages.
When Scraggy’s remaining siblings and her mother were stolen, Scraggy was the only one left behind, the only dog who could continue Grandpa Screecher’s line of puppies. Grandpa Screecher and Scraggy’s relationship was strained, hard sometimes. Scraggy really loved him, but despised him at the same time for being unable to bring back her stolen family. That was the hard relationship between a dog and her man. Through the good times and the bad, Scraggy still gave Grandpa Screecher her undying loyalty as a dog.
As she grows up, Scraggy’s views about the world changes. After she gave birth to her first litter, she was no longer a naive little dog. She was heartbroken when she realized that one her pups couldn’t even make its first week, and when Grandpa Screecher sold all her puppies following a health decline. He would tie her up due to her aggressiveness at losing her puppies, and she retaliated by biting him on the arm. He never tried to tie her up again.
Scraggy spent days and weeks wondering where her puppies went, and despising the person who took them away for it, knowing that he was also the same person who had taken her previous family away. It was heartbreaking to see Scraggy grieve in her own way, and how she decides to take the initiative and guard the house, just like what her mother would.
I have to give one warning about the book: there are moments of brutality that would make anybody’s heart get hurt, and possibly very angry. It’s harsh, and painful, and not everybody involved comes away unscathed. But, think again, isn’t that life?
Of all what happened to Scragyy, it is perhaps the love/hate scenario between the dog and ‘The Thief On The Wall’ is the most heartfelt and genuine. Taking over the house as a dog would include Scraggy greeting her owners, and of course, getting provoked by the cat next door. Their fights would usually invoke the cat stating out something, provoking Scraggy to growl back at the cat.
But despite that, somehow, the cat did become one of Scraggy’s true friends in the end. Through all the seasons that passed, Scraggy had met a number of other animals and other dogs, but the cat always stuck with her. Finally in the end, Scraggy admitted that the cat was one of the truest friend that she said in the end.
This book mainly focuses on the relationships, friends and strong ties a dog could have in its entire life. It’s a story of sorrow, hardship, and pain. Scraggy was an average dog, but like every other human, she had hopes and dreams. What were Scraggy’s dreams? She wants to be in a family, to get her family back. She would even fight for it. Scraggly, I thought, is the dog who did dare to dream is a fighter, but well, the story is pretty raw. It is not sweet nor cute. It’s really quite hard hitting.
When Scraggy gave birth into her second litter, she was overjoyed at being able to keep at least one of her pups who Grandpa Screecher plan to use for his next line of dog breeding. For a moment, it was like Scraggy getting her family back again for the third time. This time she was an experienced mother and ready to take on the challenges herself in raising her pup and being in charge of the yard. That was when Scraggy realized Grandpa Screecher’s health was declining–rapidly.
Sun Mi Hwang is best known for her fable The Hen Who Dreamed that She Could Fly. She is a South Korean Author and a Professor. Her previous book also has been given an animated film called Leafie: A Hen Into the Wild. Although I had personally found Sprout’s tale (The Hen Who Dreamed that She Could Fly) more endearing, Scrabby’s story is a beautiful read too. There is a fairytale like sense to this novella. It’s full of heart, and surprisingly, emotional.