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Awards & Honors


  • (Tennessee) Volunteer State Book Award (2002)

  • 2012 Kiddo Award recommended book--Fantasy & Other Worlds (ages 8 and up)



"The enduring fantasy of a talking pet is rendered with an abundance of charm and wit."

—Publishers Weekly



Sherlock gave a bark, which Amy supposed meant "OK," or "I understand," or maybe even "I don't like it," but why didn't he just say so? And why was he looking beyond her instead of at her?

Reluctantly, fearing the worst, Amy turned around.

And saw Sean Gorman standing there. With his eyes wide. And his mouth hanging open. Which pretty much killed any hope Amy might have had that he hadn't heard Sherlock speaking.

Sean turned to Sherlock. "How do you do that?" he demanded. "How do you know how to talk?"

Amy fought the urge to say, "He's that new breed of Mexican Speaking Spaniel." Sean wasn't going to believe anything except the truth. She had to hope he was kind-hearted as well as smart. She said, "He's a science experiment. And the scientists are out to get him--to cut open his brain to see how it works. If you tell anybody, you could get him killed."

Sherlock approached slowly and let Sean pet him.

"I won't tell anybody," Sean assured them both.

Smart Dog

original hardcover illustrated by: Brad Weinman

2007 paperback edition cover illustration: David Sheldon

Ages: 9-12 years 

Publisher: Harcourt

Book Description:

Fifth grader Amy finds her life growing complicated when she meets and tries to hide an intelligent, talking dog who has escaped from a university lab.


Where do you GET those ideas?


When I was growing up, my family had a dog.  She was smart, though not as smart as Sherlock.  Because my parents spoke French, they taught her to respond to commands in French; since my brother and I didn't speak French, we taught her in English.  Therefore, our dog was bilingual--she could understand two languages.  Since she could understand so well, I always thought it would be great if she could answer back.   And I thought it would be best of all if she would only talk to me (not my brother), and that would be our secret.  So that idea of a dog smart enough to talk, and that this would have to be a secret, has been rattling around in my head for a very long time...

More stuff...

This is a picture of me and my brother Allan and our dog, Ringle. Who's the smartest looking one here?

This is Dudley. Notice that Dudley is sitting in a garbage can.  This will give you a hint about how smart Dudley is.

Here's fellow writer Cynthia DeFelice and her dog Josie, reading Smart Dog.  Cynthia thinks Josie is very smart, but Cynthia had to read all the big words for Josie.

At the moment, the only pet in the house is Desi, who is not smart enough to be able to escape my daughter turning him into a 4th of July decoration.

More editions...


Smart Dog had a French edition and was also a Scholastic book club selection.

Smart Dog
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