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A Dog's Tale

A Dog's Tale by Mark Twain
By: (1835-1910)

A sentimental short story praised for its moving plot and condemnation of scientific experimentation on animals, Mark Twain efficiently delivers a truly captivating piece. First appearing in Harper’s Magazine in 1903, A Dog's Tale was later published as a pamphlet for the National Anti-Vivisection Society. The tale focuses on the life of Aileen, a misunderstood dog who experiences the ups and downs of life, while cruelly subjected to suffering because of the shallow belief of her inferiority amidst humans.

The story is told from the point of view of Aileen Mavourneen, a self-proclaimed Presbyterian, whose mother is a Collie, and father is a St. Bernard. The story begins with Aileen’s life as a puppy, living together with her mother until she is later taken in by a loving family. Life at her new home seems perfect, as she lives in a well adorned house, and has an open space where she is free to roam and play with other dogs. Subsequently, the household welcomes the arrival of the owner’s baby and Aileen’s puppy, which adds joy to the home. However, the idyllic days are brought to a halt when a terrible accident occurs, prompting Aileen to risk her own life to save her owner’s infant from harm’s way. Despite the heroic deed, Aileen is rewarded with the utmost brutality that changes her life forever. A compelling piece of literature, A Dog's Tale efficiently depicts the dark and inconsiderate nature of humans, which is contrasted with the benign and loyal nature of dogs. Guaranteed to make one’s heart tingle, the short story evokes many powerful emotions throughout its short, yet overpowering pages.

Twain successfully creates a piece that will captivate its audience, leaving them incapable of feeling indifferent to such a powerful message presented in the piece. Furthermore, Twain’s effectiveness to illustrate the inhumane and inconsiderate treatment of animals is heightened by allowing the audience to enter the mind of a dog and observe and feel life on the other side of the coin. Supplying a generous serving of humor, irony, love, cruelty, and heartfelt moments, A Dog's Tale encourages humanity to take a step back and carefully reflect on their actions and reconsider the roles played by both humans and animals in society.

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