Duke is a sad dog, sitting in the pet store. When Sam comes to take him home, he is ecstatic. But then he realizes that, unlike the other dogs near the farm, he doesn’t know how to dig, having lived on a cold stone floor his entire life. Once he does learn, though, he finds out the meaning of too much of a good thing.
This book suffers a bit from being dated. Originally published in 1967, the book features a few off-handed lines that might raise the hackles of modern parents, such as a suggestion that Duke has caused so much trouble that he should simply be allowed to drown. I did not much care for the attitude that when Duke does not meet the expectations of his new owner – first because he can’t dig, then because he digs too much – he should be summarily abandoned to the pet store. Since Duke is digging in part “to please my master”, this betrayal is all the more distressing.
The text is rhyming, and the rhythm is sometimes strained in order to make the words rhyme. The illustrations are slightly old-fashioned, but in a charming, rather than a dated, way. The thought of the dog digging up the entire town is funny, even if the rest of the book might have some weak spots.