Moose and the Smelly Sneakers (Life in the Doghouse)

Moose and the Smelly Sneakers (Life in the Doghouse)
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Release Date
February 01, 2022
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Moose is an adorable loaf-like puppy who loves his new home with Rosa and her family. And one of his favorite things to do is explore all of the scents in the house, from forgotten snacks to new toys to extra-smelly sneakers. But his family seems to have lots of rules that he doesn’t understand, and “no” is quickly becoming his least favorite word.

Rosa had been asking her parents to get a puppy for years, and they finally agreed on two conditions: that she help train and care for him, and that she works to improve her grade in science. But Moose doesn’t seem to understand any of the words Rosa tries to teach him, and she has no idea what topic to pick for her science project. That is, until she has an idea for how to turn her project into a way to solve both her and Moose’s problems with training at the same time.

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Instructive look at training a rescue dog
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Rosa's mother Lisette has agreed to let the family adopt a dog as long as Rosa takes care of the pet and doesn't let her science grades suffer. Older brother Raymond helps a little, but he has other interests. After picking out Moose from Danny and Ron's Rescue, Rosa begins to realize that training a dog is a lot more work than she expected. When she needs to pick a topic for her science class, she decides that she can use different tactics for training Moose, see which works best, and report her findings for the project. She uses some positive reinforcement to get him to come to her, which works well, but when she uses negative reinforcement to get him to sit on command, Raymond points out that while Moose learned the skill, he seemed stress by the procedure. Rosa must give him extra tummy rubs to make up for this! She documents Moose's mastery of a few other commands as well, and works all of her data into a well rounded project. When she forgets her visual at home and leaves the front door open in her rush to retrieve it, will Moose's training work to keep him safe when he rushes out the door?
Good Points
Like the first book in this series, Elmer and the Talent Show (which can be read independently, since these books focus on completely different dogs), Moose and the Smelly Sneakers models good dog ownership techniques in an engaging and interesting way. My favorite part was actually Rosa's work on her science project. School work is a huge part of the lives of middle grade readers, and it can be a struggle to balance school, activities, and personal time. Seeing examples of children who struggle with this balance but who come up with good coping strategies shows that it is possible to organize oneself and get everything done that needs to be accomplished!

Rosa and Raymond have occasional sibling squabbles but are generally supportive of each other, which is good to see. Their mother is firm about her rules, but also understanding when Moose has the inevitable accident in the house or gets into a back pack to eat peanut butter cheese crackers. Most of the story occurs at home, so there are few other characters of note.

There can never be enough books about dogs for some readers, so have this series on hand for readers who have gobbled up Cameron's A Dog's Life books, Miles' Puppy Place series, West's The Underdogs, Lloyd's graphic novel Allergic, or Crimi's Second Hand Dogs. For nonfiction, readers should definitely pair this book with Horowitz's Our Dogs, Our Selves, and they will see that Rosa and Raymond are adept at reading Moose's signals and try to keep him happy!
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