I didn’t grow up around dogs as a kid—my parents ran a dairy farm in the middle of nowhere, so my childhood did feature plenty of cows, some chickens, two cats, and the occasional guinea pig instead. I only discovered that I was a dog person when I took the plunge and got a dog of my own, many years later. Risky? Perhaps.
The good news is that I’m definitely a dog person.
As the title suggests, this recommendation post presents 5 of my favourite SFF short stories about dogs.
Fair warning: every single one of these stories has made me cry. Maybe it’s because I’m just a naturally emotional person (I admit I’ll cry at the drop of a hat), or a dog person, or maybe the authors who penned these 5 stories are just that damn good at what they set out to do—which is twist your heart and wring out all those pesky, heartfelt feelings about an animal that’s too good for us. I’ll let you be the judge.
As always, feel free to leave a comment or share recommendations of your own.
Sun Dogs by Brooke Bolander
You may have heard about Laika, the stray turned Soviet space dog who became the first animal to orbit the Earth and one of the first animals in space. I can guarantee you haven’t heard her story like this before. Bolander tells this tragic tale from Laika’s own perspective, infusing it with unflinching honesty and tenderness. Though Laika’s ending isn’t a happy one, this story provides a glimpse of light amongst the brutality of human endeavour. Read it at Lightspeed.
On the Day You Spend Forever with Your Dog by Adam R. Shannon
Emotionally fraught and made even more personal by means of second person point-of-view, this story explores what many of us would probably do if given the chance: use time travel to spend more time with your dog. But as with most time travel stories, this one has some hidden barbs tangled within it. Read it at Apex.
If We Die Unjustified by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor
This story is a gunshot of apocalyptic horror with a kickback of Weird. With visceral prose and nightmarish characters, Wolfmoor crafts a gruesome tale of revolution through the sentimental bond between a dog and his girl. Read it at Uncanny.
Down to Niflhel Deep by Maria Haskins
Haskins’ ambitious story pairs the unbreakable bond between a dog and his girl with Norse mythology and a quest to the underworld. If the unwavering loyalty of brave Roan doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then the snapshots of memories will. Read it at Kaleidotrope.
Dog Years by Ace Tilton Ratcliff
This contemporary story starts late, with death already on the doorstep, yet still manages to express a lifetime of companionship and emotion in a short amount of time. Succinct and honest, this piece wraps up perfectly with a heartwarming ending. Read it at Fireside.