Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review of "Penny: The Story of a Free-Soul Basset Hound" by Hal Borland

One day a nice-looking, well-mannered basset hound shows up at Hal and Barbara Borland's Connecticut farmhouse and makes herself at home. The Borlands name her Penny but soon learn that the dog lives elsewhere and is named Pokey. Pokey-Penny (as Hal calls her) is brought back to her original family but starts nipping at the local kids and is returned to the Borlands permanently.

Penny is a quirky gal with a mind of her own. She enjoys walks with the Borlands but also likes to take off by herself, returning tired and mud-spattered. The basset hound visits local families to cadge treats and has her own 'charge account' at the butcher shop - where she's given bones. Penny almost wrecks the living room chasing a ball and chews up Hal's hat. She hangs out with Hal when he's writing and shelters with Barbara during thunderstorms. When the basset hound is hungry she stands at the fridge.....and she can put away an ENORMOUS amount of food. The book has lots of stories like this about Penny, many of which will be familiar to dog owners.

In one of my favorite anecdotes Penny refuses her kibble, only deigning to eat canned dog food or cereal and milk. Wanting to use up the kibble they bought, the Borlands crush it and put it in the bird feeder. The birds don't like the kibble either and toss it on the ground....where Penny happily consumes it all (ha ha ha). In another amusing tale, Hal relates that Penny has her own 'bus pass.' During the pooch's lone perambulations she sometimes waits at school bus stops to hitch a ride home. That's one smart dog!!

Unfortunately Penny has some bad habits as well. She chases trucks on the road and harasses the neighbor's cows - a big no no. When Penny can't be broken of these behaviors she's given away to a dog-loving family that lives in a safer environment...and one day Penny disappears.

In addition to stories about Penny Hal writes A LOT about nature: the changing seasons; flowers; trees; birds; rabbits, woodchucks; other animals; weather; temperature; rain; snow; thunder; lightning; etc. I didn't find these parts very interesting.

The last part of the book is composed of two rather long, fanciful stories - one by Hal and one by Barbara - of what may have happened to Penny. These two yarns read like children's tales and might make good bedtime stories....but again, not that interesting to me.

My favorite parts of the book are about Penny and I hope - wherever she went- that Penny had a good life. If you're a dog lover, you'll probably enjoy this book. It will make you smile.

Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author's estate for a copy of this book.

Rating: 3 stars


  1. I love dog stories. This sounds precious.

    1. I love dog stories too Jacqui. Any book with a cute dog gets extra love from me :)