The Dog Master by W. Bruce Cameron tells the story of the first dog (fictionalized of course). It’s the story of how a wolf came to see a human as part of its pack and how a human was able to stop seeing a wolf as a dangerous predator and see him as a friend. The Dog Master has multiple perspectives that intersect to tell of the circumstances that made it possible for human and wolf to befriend each other and learn to rely on each other for survival.
Let me start this by saying that this book was a 5 star read for me. I thought the storyline was incredibly moving and asked questions that were insightful. Questions that made me think when I finished reading. The themes present in this book are fairly universal but still incredibly important to the story, especially in a story that relates a beginning and making of a relationship that would affect the rest of history.
One theme is of trust. The professors, in the beginning, asked:
“Now your not talking centuries, you’re talking a single generation, the life of one person. Twenty years, let’s call it. So, Jean Claude, you ask an important question, a very important question indeed. Who is the man?”
The Dog Master
W. Bruce Cameron
How does a human go from being hunted by a creature, to relying on that same creature? Same for the wolf, how does one overrule the natural instinct to rely on the familiar? To overcome this you have to trust these creatures, either human or wolf, won’t turn on you. You have to trust that they will keep you safe.
Another theme of this book pairs well with trust and it is loyalty. What makes this book so magical is the relationship and bond that develops between man and wolf. The characters develop a loyalty to each other that really ends up being the main relationship of the book. Their loyalty to each other supersedes all their other relationships. They are tempted to betray each other several times throughout the novel. Sometimes for the companionship of their own kind or to share food with each other when they were starving. But they always end up remaining loyal to each other. They each make sacrifices for the other and in return gain the others trust.
I enjoyed the multiple perspectives in this book and the different cultures presented in each perspective. Each perspective has well-defined characters who have their own unique personality and culture. Each perspective and each clan contributed to the outcome: the friendship between man and wolf. One perspective was actually of the wolves. It brought to life the character and personality of the wolves. It wasn’t kitschy as it could have been but was a perspective of a true character and was well done.
One of the best aspects of this book is how it makes you think long after your finished reading it. It asked the questions: how did man really come to befriend wolves and make them their partners. Who was the person who gained the friendship and loyalty of a wolf? What made him different from all the others who came before him? What were the circumstances that made it possible for a wolf to be able to trust a human? This book gives one possible solution for these questions, but it increased my interest in how it might have actually happened.
Overall, this book was a wonderful read. It was thought-provoking, insightful and stuck with me long after reading it. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves dogs or to anyone looking for a good read.