On empathy, friendship and canine companionship

Sangmi Ko, A Dog Wearing Shoes

Published 2015 by Schwartz & Wade


The human – animal relation is a mutual beneficial relation and the powerful effects animals have on children’s healthy development have been scientifically proved. The affection for an animal improves verbal and non-verbal communication and children develop empathy, kindness and responsibility. Dogs are a species of animals that have the ability to emphatically respond to humans – we see tail wagging for joy, sniffing and licking as reactions to a person’s sadness or crying.

In literature dogs have extraordinary references, not only as fictional subjects but also as real subjects. When I discovered Sangmi Ko’s book I immediately recaptured my childhood; it was like Proust’s madeleine. I could feel the happiness I felt as a child every time I found a stray dog and took it home (and the situations, to my parents’ desperation, were abundant). This book is based on a real story.

On their way home, Mini and her mother find a dog in the middle of the road.

20160531_115556He seems lost, so they take him home. The girl is excited and wants to call him her very own but the dog feels unhappy.


The mother concludes that as the dog is wearing bright yellow shoes he must belong to someone. But Mini gets attached to him and becomes extremely proud.


When the dog runs away in the park and Mini loses him, she feels extremely sad but now she understands the ethical situation and the feelings the other owner might have.


She returns the dog to his owner and gets a dog of her own from the Pet Adoption Center.


The book’s visual communication is extraordinary; the illustrations are mainly monochromatic with little highlights of yellow and red and they perfectly transmit the characters’ honest range of emotions.

At the back of the book there is useful information about adopting a dog because there is a dog for everybody, isn’t it?

Complement the reading on dog books with Jean Jullien’s Ralf and Claire Freedman’s Oliver and Patch.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s