About the Holiday
National Mutt Day, also known as Mixed Breed Dog Day, was established in 2005 by animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige, and our collective love of dogs has expanded this holiday from one day to two! National Mutt Day is now celebrated on July 31 and December 2. The purpose of these days is to raise awareness of the plight of mixed breed dogs abandoned and/or in shelters around the country. Approximately 80% of dogs in shelters are mixed breeds, and they often lose out on finding permanent homes to purebred dogs who are adopted much more quickly. Mixed breed dogs tend to be healthier, behave better, and often have sweeter temperaments than their purebred cousins, making them wonderful family pets. If you are considering adding a pet to your family, consider a mixed breed. You’ll be happy you did!
By Andrea Zuill
Homer is a regular dog—except when he’s feeling wolfish. He loves the lure of the hunt, and likes to pounce on stuffed Mr. Moose unawares. He thinks this is because it’s been proven by science that “all dogs have a bit of wolf in them.” When Homer takes to daydreaming, his mind wanders to the joys of living as “a real wolf,” running with the pack on the open plains. Then one day in addition to his kibble, a flier for Wolf Camp pours from the dog food bag.
The flier seems to offer everything Homer wants. “Have you ever felt like howling at the moon? Come join us!” it reads. Homer knows he has to go, so he makes sure his people see the notice—whether they are in the bathtub, in bed, relaxing, or just walking through the house. Finally his people relent, and on the designated day he boards the Wolf Camp bus and is off on an adventure.
Once at camp, Homer is “greeted by Fang and Grrr,” the counselors. Then he meets his fellow campers, big Rex and tiny Pixie. Fang gives a safety speech that includes staying together, refraining from chasing dangerous animals, and other rules. Their first lesson is “marking.” Could Homer help it if he was a little too close to Fang’s feet during practice? Next comes howling. Grrr and Fang sing out a chilling “Ahh-whooooo…” Pixie pipes up with a small “Yeeiiiiiip”; Rex gives an indeterminate “Wahwawawawa…”; and Homer offers his best “Phooooooof…”
When they learn to track, Rex can’t contain his excitement and shouts out “Look! A bunny!” “Shhhhhhh…,” Homer and Pixie remind him. At last the campers are shown how to hunt, even if Fang and Grrr do run ahead and with grrrs, snarls, growls, and a cloud of dust acquire dinner by themselves. The meal has “an interesting flavor,” which prompts Homer to write a letter home: “Dear People, How are you? I am fine. The food here is yucky and has hair on it.” He asks his family to send his favorite bacon-flavored doggie snacks as well as flea medicine “because there are a lot of bugs and they are gross.” He even includes a real “smashed bug” in the corner of the paper.
Living and sleeping in the wild have their challenges, but day-by-day the dogs adjust, becoming experts at marking rocks, howling “Ahh-Whoooo,” and hunting. And while taking down a moose may still be daunting, chasing squirrels is easy. The end of the week comes quickly and as Homer receives his “Honorary Wolf” certificate, he feels sad to be leaving his new friends. They howl “one more time as a pack,” and then it’s time to ride the bus back home.
While it’s good to be home with his people, his soft bed and electric blanket, and his familiar toys, Homer feels different. As nighttime falls he goes to the window and sings out a chilling “Ahh-whoooo-Ahh-Ahh-Whooowhooo….”
Andrea Zuill’s funny story of a regular dog who dreams of being more by embracing his bolder heritage will delight dog owners and dog lovers alike. Endearing Homer, with his wagging tail, sweet smile, and unflagging perseverance, is an enthusiastic hero who inspires readers to never give up in the face of obstacles. Humorous dialogue and commentary by Homer, Rex, and Pixie as they perform their camp lessons are presented in speech and thought bubbles and will make kids giggle. Zuill’s nod to “people” camp makes Wolf Camp an accessible story that will resonate with any child facing a new situation, learning new skills, or being away from home for the first time.
Zuill’s vivid, cartoon-inspired illustrations are loaded with personality and expression. Kids will root for earnest Homer, shaggy Rex, and scrawny Pixie, and, while needle-nosed Fang and Grrr initially seem intimidating, they are counselors who have their camp charges’ best interests at heart.
Ages 4 – 8
Schwartz & Wade, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553509120 | ISBN 978-1984851659 (Paperback, 2018)
To learn more about Andrea Zuill and Wolf Camp, as well as view a portfolio of her illustrations, visit her website!
National Mutt Day Activity
Peppy Puppies Match Up Puzzle
Each of the puppies has a friend. Can you match them up based on one trait? There may be multiple right answers! Why do you think the dogs you chose go together in this printable puzzle?
You can find Wolf Camp at these booksellers
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound
Picture Book Review