Rereading: THE DOG NEXT DOOR by Keith Robertson

While my favorite Keith Robertson books are those about the Carson Street Detectives and Henry Reed, he wrote many fine stories, often about kids and animals, as here.

Hal lives with his parents in a small town on the New Jersey side of Raritan Bay, and the two things he most wants are ones his parents won’t allow: his own boat, and a dog. Hal has a friend who makes boats, Mr. Seward, and he spends a lot of time at his dock and boatyard. Mr. Seward thinks Hal needs a new project to keep him busy, and suggests he build a tree house in the large tree at the back of his family’s yard that overlooks the town and surrounding area. Hal agrees, and with help from his father, is soon looking at his world from the treehouse with a seaman’s telescope Mr. Seward gave him. There he watches as his neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Perkins, prepare a strong pen in their back yard capable of holding a large animal, and one day the animal is delivered: it’s a handsome fawn-colored young boxer, a gift from Mrs. Perkin’s sister, who breeds them.

Hal grumbles that the Perkins’ are perhaps the worst people in town to have a dog, and it’s true. Mrs. Perkins is afraid to go near it, and Mr. Perkins is sure it’s dangerous and when he’s walking the dog, warns everyone to keep their distance. In fact, as Hal soon finds out, Beau is a normal dog who just wants afriend, and Hal becomes that friend. In time, he’s allowed to feed Beau and take him out into the woods, where they have fun together. Then one day a small child in town is bitten by a dog when no one else is around, and Mr. Perkins is sure it must have been Beau, who had dug out of his cage. He wants the dog put to sleep. Hal can’t stand that idea, and he steals and hides Beau, which is only the beginning of the trouble both of them get into.

Great story, fine characters, the illustrations by Morgan Dennis are equally fine. Recommended if you can locate a copy.

The Dog Next Door by Keith Robertson

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