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"To Dance with the White Dog"

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To Dance with the White Dog (1-256), is a novel based in Georgia in the period between 1950 and 1960 that portrays a pathetic picture of the way of life of the rural South.  Sam Peek suddenly loses his wife of 57 years to heart attack, and though he is 81 years old, he is determined to continue living at home in the neighborhood of his two daughters who constantly  watch over him.  As they wondered how their old father would continue with his day-to-day activities on the farm to take care of his pecan trees, Sam told them about his white dog that is not visible to anyone else but him, and they thought the old man’s grief had overcome him.

A widower struggling to get to terms with his anguish, Sam acquires a big white dog that is ghostly as only he is able to see it. Sam’s wife is said to have come back to life to assist her husband and manifests as the white dog which is fed and cared for by Sam.  She, however, constantly hides from other members of the family. This becomes a family concern, as they wonder whether Sam is mentally sound. The white dog was found by Sam on the doorway of his rear porch, and he shouted at it as it was licking spots of grease on the floor.  Later, Sam saw blood strings from the floor where the white dog was licking.  Another night, he fell down and injured the hip.  This made him stay up late, and the daughter sensed that all was not well and told her husband to go and confirm her fears.  Looking outside was a white dog coming from their house.  This became the very beginning of anyone seeing the dog, as it was never seen until Sam was in a trouble.  The dog would sprint beside his truck up to the grave to pay a visit to Cora’s grave.

The dog may be real or nonexistent, but Sam, who is very good when it comes to tending to trees, outshines everyone.  Sam danced with the dog throughout this novel and shared all his best and worst times.  Sam later got stroke and the dog went to a house of one of the family members where it barked to be helped thus saved him.  When finally Sam is recovering and uses a walker to walk, the dog puts its paws on the walker and dances with him.  The dog saves him again when it takes members of the family down the river where Sam had fallen.  The other fact that made the dog’s occurrence even more unusual is the fact that the dog did not occur at Sam’s residence till his wife Cora’s death.   She normally makes a good companion for Sam and only leaves when Sam finally dies. It was thus thought that his wife Cora who had come in the form of the dog had actually come back to Sam to take care of him.  

The writer, Terry Kay says that the book started as an acknowledgement of the long marriage between his own parents. Kay believes that his parents had unending love which was evident during the brief period that Sam had with the white dog (Barkan, 81). Terry goes on to say that is possible for love to continue eternally and cross over to the borders of living and demise.  The dog’s visit to Sam was not only a fact based, but also touching.  It also has humorous, amazing and unforgettable characters.  Sam Peek had a very dependable relationship with his children and the writer, Terry feels like their conversation is extremely genuine and though the novel helps people to face the issues of  old age, sorrow, and demise, it nevertheless celebrates life, affection and family bonds.

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