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Literature / Doglands

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Live without a collar, and every man will turn his hand against you.
A free dog never dies. He only moves on.

Doglands is a 2011 novel by Tim Willocks. It's about a greyhound mix as he searches for his father and tries to save his family.

Furgul is a puppy born in a racing greyhound compound dubbed "Dedbone's Hole" by the other dogs. It gets its name from its inhumane condition. The dogs are kept in small crates whenever they're not racing, they're not given enough food, and they're beaten by their masters. When Furgul is old enough, his mother tells him a secret: he and his sisters aren't greyhounds. They're lurchers from their father's side. They won't be able to live at Dedbone's Hole for much longer. Soon the masters will realize that they're mixed and "take them away".

Doglands provides examples of:

  • And the Adventure Continues: The story ends with Furgul and Dervla going on a journey to rediscover the Dog Lore and find the Doglands.
  • Angry Guard Dog:
    • Tic and Tac are two bullmastiffs at Dedbone's Hole who act as guard dogs. They're not very bright and take joy in their job,
    • Deconstructed with the thieves guard dogs. They might have been born aggressive, but years of being beaten have worsened their aggression. All they want to do is hurt others like their masters hurt them. Even Dervla, a formally gentle dog, had the happiness beaten out of her.
  • Animal Jingoism: Downplayed. Some of the dogs dislike cats but others mention that they're not too bad once you get to know them.
  • Animal Religion: When a free-hearted dog dies it becomes one with the wind.
  • Animals Fear Neutering: Furgul is terrified of going to the Vet and being neutered. It doesn't help that he's afraid it'll stop him from wanting to roam. He escapes his owners when they take him to the Vet.
  • Animal Talk: It's implied that animals have a cross-species tongue when Zinni is able to communicate to a group of crows.
  • Apathetic Pet: Many dogs do love their owners in their own way, but it doesn't equal the love they feel towards one another. Their owners aren't their equal and they're more like caretakers than friends.
  • Apologizes a Lot: Gerry apologizes constantly. There's a joke about how the dog's owners are always apologizing when their dogs interact while walking, which is why Furgul knows the word "sorry".
  • Arc Words: "You're the dog who runs with darkness". 'Running with the winds' is a reoccuring theme and refers to both freedom as a dog and spiritual beliefs of dogs.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals:
    • Dedbone is a big, filthy man who abuses his racing greyhounds and only sees them as a way to make money.
    • Tattoo and Spotty are two thieves who steal dogs to act as their guard dogs. They beat their dogs into submission. They also steal greyhounds and lurchers to act as bait for rich people's guard dogs.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Furgul rescues the greyhounds at Dedbone's but he must leave his mother, his friends, and Jodi to continue his way.
  • Broken Bird:
    • All of the racing greyhounds have been broken down into submission after years of living in their compound. They don't even have the Doglands in their heart.
    • Dervla and the other guard dogs at the carnival have been beaten into submission. Dervla is the worst, to the point where Furgul calls her the "Dog Who Never Smiles" because she's always so stoic and miserable. She starts to recover from her traumatic past during the final chapter.
  • Bring Me My Brown Pants: In the second chapter, Furgul and his sisters pee themselves in fear when the cardboard box they're trapped in gets kicked repeatedly. This works for their advantage because the urine makes the cardboard easier to break out of.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Many dogs refer to televisions as "noise-screens", but others know them by their human name.
  • Covered with Scars:
    • Furgul has bullet scars from when he escaped Dedbone's as a puppy. He also has various dog bite scars from scuffles over the book.
    • Brennus was beaten and abused by his owner, so he's covered in scars.
    • Dervla's time as a guard dog led to her having several scars. The fights at the end of the book likely added several more.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Dervla is a pure-black German shepherd but is a fun-loving and nice dog. Even after she's broken down into "the Dog That Never Smiles", she's still a gentle soul who only hurts those who deserve it.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Nearly every line Pace says is a snark.
    Furgul: Why are you wearing that harness?
    Pace: I wear it so stray dogs can ask me stupid questions.
    • Dervla has her moments as well.
  • Death of a Child:
    • Two of Furgul's sisters die within the first 45 pages. Eena dies instantly from being shot. Nessa survives but she eventually dies of the gunshot wound to her ribs.
    • Subverted. Tattoo and Spotty are two thieves who kidnap Furgul by baiting him with an injured puppy. After knocking out Furgul, they beat the puppy to death. However, this is only a Disney Death as the puppy survived his injuries and was rescued by Jodi.
  • Disappeared Dad: Furgul goes looking for his father Argal. Argal is a stray who left before Furgul was born. Later on Furgul meets his dad but he's killed the day afterwards by shelter owners who deem him a dangerous, unadoptable dog.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When a bunch of Mister Muffykins females are drooling over Furgul, one says "You know what they say about long snouts".
  • Dogs Love Being Praised: Inverted. Furgul hates being called "good boy". He's a dog, not a "boy".
  • Dog Stereotype:
    • Downplayed with the greyhounds. While they are racing greyhounds, they aren't particularly hyperactive.
    • Due to his mixed greyhound/wolfhound heritage, Furgul is very energetic and high-sprung. He has a strong running instinct and a strong hunting instinct; he nearly attacked a small poodle because he "wanted to see how fast the little feller could run". Furgul also fits the stereotype of a heroic, Street Smart mixed-breed.
    • Argal is a huge and wild lurcher. He fits the "pragmatic Street Smart mutt" stereotype but is more refined than usual. He enjoys being a wild dog and always escapes shelters, to the point where he's become the thing of legend amongst other dogs. Argal's wolfhound side gets the most emphasis. He has the spirit of a free-roaming hunting dog.
    • Double subverted with Dervla. She's a friendly and energetic German shepherd who likes to play-fight. When Furgul meets her again months later she's been broken down into a cold, violent Angry Guard Dog. She was kidnapped by thieves and forced to act as their guard dog. The only thing she knows to do is kill without emotion. Even afterwards she's still a Broken Bird.
    • Brennus is a wise, gentle saint bernard who was abused and left to die by his owner.
    • Zinni is a pampered sweet papillon with a diamond-collar. She later subverts the Mister Muffykins portrayal after her owner abandons her for a chihuahua at the shelter. She's more pro-active and rough-and-tumble then most fictional papillon.
    • Subverted when, upon meeting Furgul, the English bulldog Kinnear tries to pass himself as the "dominant dog" of the household. He's no Bully Bulldog. He's passive and apologetic.
    • The two bullmastiffs, Tic and Tac, are dimwitted Angry Guard Dogs.
    • Subverted with a poodle-like dog that Furgul meets at a dog park. Its owner is terrified that Furgul will hurt it, but the dog isn't phased. It wants to rough-house with Furgul and Dervla. The two decline because of the height difference.
    • Furgul comes across a seeing-eye dog and, of course, it's a labrador.
    • "Guard dog" breeds, such as pit bulls and giant schnauzers, are generally treated as Dumb Muscles.
  • Downer Beginning : The story with Furgul and his sisters almost getting culled for being mutts. Two of the sisters don't make it through the first three chapters.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Nessa's final words to her brother are "I love you, Furgul".
  • Embarrassing First Name:
    • Furgul rejects his pet name, Rupert, for being too embarrassing.
    • Dervla doesn't like her pet name, Samantha.
    • Cogg and Baz use their dog names after Furgul tells them that their shared pet name, "Pumpkin", is a girl's name.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Two giant schnauzers get embarrassed when Furgul tells them that their shared pet name, "Pumpkin", is girly.
  • Gonk: Freak is a shaggy, dirty dog with a misshapen head comparable to a donkey's. He's also a Dumb Muscle who barely talks as well, only speaking in one or two syllable words.
  • Henpecked Husband: Gerry is this way to his wife Harriet. Even Kinnear knows that Harriet rules the household. She's always yelling at Gerry while all he does is apologize.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: "Some of them woofled  about it in their sleep".
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: One of the dogs at the carnival is a doberman/corgi mix.
  • I Was Named "My Name": Subverted. Dogs have "dog names" and "human names". Some only go by the names that their humans call them while others go by their "real names". For example, Furgul's mother is named "Keeva" but her racing name is "Sapphire Blue".
  • A Lady on Each Arm: Chuck Chumley, the dog food tycoon who owns the most popular dog food brand in the series, arrives at the Needles with an attractive blonde and redhead on each arm.
  • Lazy Neutered Pet: Kinnear blames his chubbiness and laziness on being neutered.
  • Love at First Sight: Furgul knows that he and Dervla are soulmates from the moment they meet.
  • Meaningful Name: "Furgul" means "brave" in dog tongue, which Furgul is.
  • Mister Muffykins:
    • Furgul tends to look down at cute toy dogs, especially dressed up ones, as being less doggish than him. They're depicted as pampered pets.
    • Zinni is a papillon who eventually breaks free from this after her owner abandons her.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Deconstructed when Furgul asks a group with names like this about how dogs with tough names are always bad fighters.
  • One-Night-Stand Pregnancy: Keeva only spent one night with Argal. She fell in love with him quickly, but he was a free-roaming stray. He got into Dedbone's Hole on his own and left on his own as well.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: A few humans, such as Dedbone and the Gambler, are only known by their dog-given monikers. Jodi learns Dedbone's real name but it's never mentioned.
  • Pale Females, Dark Males: Inverted with Furgul, a white lurcher, and his Love Interest Dervla, a black German shepherd.
  • Parental Substitute: Brennus acts as the father figure that Furgul never had. He's a wise, old saint bernard who has experienced much over his lifetime.
  • Parental Title Characterization: Furgul calls his mother "Mam" while his sisters use "Mama". Both titles are affectionate and childish, but Furgul's is a bit more boyish.
  • A Pet into the Wild: Furgul was born a captive dog but he was rarely handled. As a result, he doesn't adjust to living with humans well. He hates all the rules and regulations of being a pet, preferring to live free.
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: The dogs are scared of shelters due to their high euthanasia rate. Dogs talk about shelters like humans would talk about cops and prison. Dog catchers are called "the Traps" and the shelter is called "the Needles".
  • Preppy Name: There are a few Mister Muffykins dogs called Milly, Molly, and Mandy.
  • Shout-Out: Furgul is embarrassed when his owners name him "Rupert". He says it sounds like a name for a bear who wears checkered pants. This references the titular character from Rupert Bear.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: A few people, like Jodi and Dedbone, can speak to dogs.
  • Spiteful Spit: A man dubbed "Tattoo" by Furgul spits at Jodi's feet when she refuses to give him a dog.
  • Take That!: The book takes potshots at "vet recommended" dog kibble. Chuck Chumley's food both tastes disgusting and is little more than junk food. It's so nutrient deficient that it gave one dog diabetes.
  • Tagline: "Live without a collar, and every man will turn his hand against you."
  • Theme Naming: The two guard dogs at Dedbone's Hole are named "Tic" (male) and "Tac" (female).
  • Unsuccessful Pet Adoption:
    • Furgul's time as "Rupert" only lasts a year at most. He runs off after hearing he's going to be neutered.
    • While Furgul likes Jodi, he can't stay as her sanctuary as he has other things to do. There's no saying that he might not return one day, but for now Furgul and Dervla live as strays.
  • Verbal Tic: Kinnear says "Righty-ho!" a lot.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: One of Furgul's sisters, Brid, runs away from Dedbone at the start of the book. She's never seen again.
  • Winds Are Ghosts: According to dog lore, free-spirited dogs never truly die. They just become the wind. It's left ambiguous whether this is true or not, but the ending where Furgul's mentor Brennus dies and later a huge gust of wind helps Furgul at the last minute implies it is.