About the Holiday
Today’s holiday comes during International Assistance Dog Week, a time to recognize the work and benefits of canine helpers of all types. Assistance dogs offer comfort, independence, and reassurance to people who have them as members of the family. Not only do dogs of various breeds help the vision and hearing challenged, but they are also trained to recognize the signs of medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, seizures, and epilepsy. Owners of these friends and helpers know that they have the perfect dog, just like the little girl in today’s book!
The Perfect Dog
By Keven O’Malley
Getting a dog is a major decision. Paramount, perhaps, is what type of dog is best, and with so many breeds, how do you break it down? When the little girl in The Perfect Dog receives permission to get a dog, she begins her list for just the right pet. “The perfect dog should be big” she says as she imagines holding a Chow Chow. Or maybe “bigger” like a German Shephard, or even “biggest” like a Saint Bernard that stands taller than she is. But a Great Dane? Maybe not that big.
On the other hand maybe “the perfect dog should be small”—standing around knee height—or “smaller”—mid shin height—or “smallest”—able to fit in a purse. But small enough to sit on her head? Maybe not that small. Next she considers the length of the dog’s hair. “The perfect dog should have long hair,” she believes, already assembling her grooming supplies to plump a poodle’s coif. Or the “longer” hair of a Sheep Dog might be fun to comb and cut, and the “longest” hair of an Afghan Hound would be a dream to brush. But the locks of a Komondor? Maybe not that long.
The girl knows the dog should not be too loud or too slobbery, but it should definitely be “fancy.” Speed is also a consideration. “Fast” as a Beagle? Maybe “faster,” like a Dalmatian. But “fastest,” like a Greyhound, could make walking the dog a challenge. Snuggly is nice for quiet times, but a dog so snuggly it takes over the whole chair is not what the girl has in mind. The little girl does not want a pet that is too slow or too messy either.
The day finally arrives for the girl and her family to pick out their new pet. There are so many to choose from! Looking into each face and taking each dog’s traits and qualities into consideration, the family decides that “the perfect dog should be happy…happier…happiest!” But there’s still one surprise waiting. Instead of the girl choosing the perfect dog, she reveals that “the perfect dog found me!” And it was a very happy ending!
Part concept book, part tribute to people’s “best friend,” Kevin O’Malley’s The Perfect Dog is a fun romp through different breeds and their unique qualities. If you’ve ever attended a dog show or watched one on TV, you know that there are as many types of canines as there are people. O’Malley applies the language concept of superlatives to describe big, bigger, biggest; long, longer, longest; and other shapes, sizes, and traits in a way that attracts kids’ attention and fosters understanding.
As the little girl “tries out” various dogs, O’Malley’s bold, full-bleed illustrations proceed from funny to funnier to funniest, often to the little girl’s dismay. She gets knocked down by the biggest of biggest dogs, finds herself hidden in the longest of longest hair, and flies straight out from the end of the leash attached to the fastest of fastest dogs.
O’Malley knows, too, the real secret about choosing a new pet—one that kids will delight in, just as they do in this book. For any pet lover The Perfect Dog is…perfect!
Ages 3 – 8
Crown Books for Young Readers, Penguin, 2016 | ISBN 978-1101934418
Be sure to visit Kevin O’Malley’s website! You can learn more about his books, watch a video of one of his school visits, and even download free books!
Assistance Dog Day Activity
I (Heart) Dogs! Word Search
Assistance dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. Find the names of more than 25 types of dogs in this printable I (Heart) Dogs! Word Search!
Picture Book Review