Chris lives on a ranch in Oregon with his mother, sister, and stepfather Cal. His father passed some years ago, but Chris still misses him, and resents the new man his mother brought into their home. When a ragged, starving nearly all-black German Shepherd shows up in the woods near Chris’s treehouse, his heart goes out to the frightened dog, and he becomes determined to help it and make friends, but the dog doesn’t help his case when he kills and eats one of Cal’s chickens. Then it becomes a secret campaign that Chris hopes to keep from Cal, but the dog’s ills are serious, and eventually a doctor has to be brought in. Cal, who has guessed Chris had a secret, then learns the truth. To Chris’s surprise, Cal is sympathetic, and helps bring the dog, who Chris names Smoke, back to health, but Chris can only keep him if an ad is put in the paper advertising the lost dog has been found. All goes well until the dog’s owner shows up to claim him. Chris can’t give Smoke up, and he and the dog run away over the mountain into rough territory that may turn out to be more than they can handle.
Well written, recommended. My only complaint is for the cover artist, who clearly did not read the description of Smoke before doing his painting, and there’s no seacoast in the book either.