A Dog Called Jack follows the life of Jack, a scruffy mutt living on Christmas Street in London. This heartwarming yet witty novel places an emphasis on family and belonging. Ivy Pembroke, the author, delves deeper into her inspiration for the charming story.
My first dog was named Samantha. Although there was a brief time when I decided I wanted to change her name to Belle, because I had some vague impression you could just keep changing dogs’ names periodically throughout their lives. That made sense, because at that age I also thought maybe I could just keep changing my name throughout my life. I felt like there were so many names in the world I loved, how could I ever just be one the whole time?
We didn’t change Sammy’s name to Belle, and I never really changed my name, either. My family still calls me the name I had as a baby. But I did grow up to become a writer, and that meant that I got to name characters, and that meant that I got to use all those names I loved.
Names are important. They tell us we’re loved. Even when we might be less than fond of them – even when we might want to change them entirely – there’s a sense of belonging in a name. That’s exactly what the name Jack brings to Jack in A Dog Called Jack. Abandoned by his family, he nevertheless finds his own family, in the group of neighbors on Christmas Street who kindly take him in and make him a vital part of their lives.
A Dog Called Jack is really a book all about the ways in which we find our families, both the ones we’re born with and the ones we make for ourselves. Jack had a family who didn’t work out for him, but he finds a multitude of other people who love him and welcome him, and who let him change their lives for the better.
Since that first dog, I have had many dogs throughout my life. Because I currently have a job that demands a lot of travel, my current dogs live with my sister. Oliver and Bennie are now the first dogs for my nieces and nephew, as much a part of that family as Samantha was for me as a child and as Jack is for everyone on Christmas Street. And my nieces and nephew still call me by the name I always had, but now that I’m a writer, I got to come up with another name, too: my writing name!
Jack just so happens to be one of my favorite names in the world. And Sam, the main character of the book, happens to share the name of my first dog. Every time I sit down to enter Jack’s world, I’m reminded of all the dogs who have made such a difference in my life and will keep making a difference, with their loyalty and love, part of our families, whatever those families may look like.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ivy Pembroke is a law professor who specializes in copyright and trademark law, with a focus on fanfiction. She splits her time between Mississippi and her home state of Rhode Island and also writes YA fiction under the name Skylar Dorset.