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Literature / Doctor Dog

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His owners taught him to heel, he taught himself to heal.
This is the Gumboyle family and this is their dog. He is a doctor.
Dr. Dog is a children's book by Babette Cole. It's actually two books.

In the first book, Dr. Dog, the readers are introduced to a family called the Gumboyles (a mother, a father, a granddad and five kids: Kurt who's a teen, Fiona, Gerty and Kev who are grade schoolers, and Baby who is a toddler) and their dog, who is a doctor. When the dog goes away on a conference, Granddad and the kids each get various problems (Granddad has a gas problem, Kurt has Smoker's Cough, Fiona has earache, Gerty has tonsillitis, Kev has lice and Baby has intestinal worms) and they send Dr Dog to treat them, and he does, all the while giving a well-meaning, but somewhat naggy explanation of the causes and preventatives for each ailment, and treating them. It ends with Dog chewing the parents out for not bothering to prevent the family from getting sick, and then Granddad farts so hard he blows the roof off, leading to Dr Dog being sent to an island because he has too much "stress", but then he gets a letter saying the family is coming.


In the book's sequel, A Dose of Dr. Dog, Dr. Dog has met another dog who's a professor and the Gumboyles arrive and have their usual bad luck again (Kurt gets mosquito bites, Gerty gets motion sickness and Kev gets a boil on his bottom), and both doctors do their usual diagnoses, descriptions and treatments. Then, a carnivorous plant called a Nosenip nearly eats Baby, but Kev's boil bursts on it, saving the day.


Dr. Dog provides examples of

  • An Aesop:
    • Don't be negligent.
    • Don't suck your thumb after scratching your bum.
    • Don't swap combs and brushes.
    • Don't smoke.
  • The Alcoholic: Subverted for Granddad Gumboyle. He drinks too much beer which gives him a wind problem but when he gives up the beer, he's completely OK.
  • Alliterative Name: Gerty Gumboyle.
  • Alliterative Title: Doctor Dog, and A Dose of Doctor Dog.
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": The professor is a dog and his surname is Hound.
  • Artistic Licence Medicine: Amusingly, this book educates mostly about medical issues, but it enforces the idea that the rain can make you sick, which is a myth.
  • Beach Episode: "A Dose of Doctor Dog" takes place at the beach.
  • Buffy Speak: Mosquitoes are called "poo-flies" by the narrator.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Granddad Gumboyle and the children always seem to be getting something wrong with them, especially Baby (he got intestinal worms, which seem to be the worst compared to things like gas and lice, and then he nearly got eaten).
    • Dr Dog was this in the first book, having to deal with "stress".
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': The Gumboyles tend to follow this trope: Granddad eats baked beans and drinks beer, then develops a gas problem and farts the roof off, Gerty takes one walk in the rain without rain gear and gets tonsillitis (which isn't even how you get tonsillitis anyway), Kurt develops a cough from smoking, Kev swaps combs once and gets lice...
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: Gerty's tonsillitis is said to come from taking a walk in the rain without her raincoat on.
  • Cheerful Child: Gerty, Baby and Fiona seem peppy when there's nothing wrong with them.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Dr Dog's full name is implied to be "Dog".
  • Drugs Are Bad: Kurt smokes, develops Smoker's Cough, and is taught that smoking is bad.
  • Gasshole: Graddad becomes this is the first book.
  • Genki Girl: Fiona apparently turns cartwheels and Gerty is pretty energetic.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Dr Dog wears a labcoat but no pants.
  • Hot Drink Cure: The second book has Gerty Gumboyle get motion sickness, which Dr. Dog and Prof. Hound treat with ginger tea.
  • Jump Rope Blunders: In the sequel, titled A Dose of Doctor Dog, Gerty Gumboyle tries to skip rope (using tendrils from a Man-Eating Plant, no less) only to get motion sickness.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Both of the dog doctors wear white labcoats all the time.
  • Lazy Bum: Both the Gumboyle parents don't mind their family getting sick as they have Dr Dog to treat them.
  • The Medic: Dr Dog, and his own doctor, who's also a dog.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The second book deals with the Nosenip plants, which eat people.
  • Missing Mom: Granddad Gumboyle must be Pa Gumbolye's father, due to having the same surname. Pa Gumboyle's mother is never seen, and doesn't live with the family, so she's either dead (after all, she'd be elderly) or divorced.
  • Nearly Normal Animal: Dr Dog can talk and hold a medical degree, but he also walks on four legs, eats dog food and pees on trees. There are also several other dogs with his level of nearly-normality.
  • No Name Given: Downplayed for the adults in the Gumboyle family (we know their surnames, but not their first names), and played straight for Dr. Dog's personal doctor.
  • Revolting Rescue: In A Dose of Doctor Dog, the sequel, Kev Gumboyle accidentally saves his baby brother's life when the baby gets snatched up by a Man-Eating Plant, only for Kev's boil to burst, spraying pus on the plant and making it drop his brother.
  • Science Hero: In the second book, the scientist Professor Dash Hound helps out the family.
  • Serious Business: Farting is treated as an illness.
  • Sick Episode: Lots of the characters are described as "ill" when not suffering from an actual disease, but there are a few actual illnesses.
    • Gerty's tonsillitis.
    • Fiona's earache.
    • Baby's worms.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Granddad drinks too much beer and eats too much baked beans, so he develops a gas problem, and farts the roof off.
  • Toilet Humour:
    • Baby's worms got caught by him "scratching his bum and sucking his thumb".
    • Kev's boil. It's on his bottom and it bursting saves the day.
    • Granddad farting so hard he blows the roof off the house.
    • Kurt gets mosquito bites after stepping in poo.
  • The Tonsillitis Episode: Gerty gets tonsillitis in the first book.
  • Unnamed Parent: Downplayed. We know the adults' surnames, but not their first names.
  • Vacation Episode: The second book has everyone on a vacation.