Stray by Cynthia Rylant

Summary: Stray by Cynthia Rylant is a short story about a young girl named Doris who finds a puppy and her deep want to make the dog a part of the family.


Doris Lacey - The daughter

Amos Lacey - The father

Mamie Lacey - The mother

The Puppy - The dog

Section 1:

  • On a snowy cold day a dog "wandered" onto the Lacey's property which included a "small" house
  • The puppy was shivering and looked abandoned
  • Doris, while shoveling snow in the drive, "spotted" the puppy and brought her into their house after trudging through the yard
  • Mr. Lacey hinted where the puppy would end up, "the pound"
  • The dog seemed to have some shepherd in it and was about 6 months old
  • Mr. Lacey let the puppy sleep in the basement while Doris fed it food scraps because Mrs. Lacey didn't like wasting food
  • In Stray, the puppy "was a good dog"
  • Doris found that the puppy wanted to be part of the family and tried to convince her parents that it was so
  • Nine days after the puppy came into Doris' family's life, a sunny day arrived and Mr. Lacey was making preparation to take the puppy to the animal shelter
  • Doris didn't even name the puppy because she knew this day would come and she cried when the day did come
  • Doris asked her mom twice if she could keep the puppy and Mrs. Lacey could only say no because they couldn't afford the puppy
  • Doris dreamed of "searching and searching for things lost"when she cried herself to sleep
  • Doris woke up before night and woke, exhausted from crying, wondering if she would have anything in her life
  • Doris knew she would need to eat and she didn't want to pass the basement and face her parents but she "heavily" got up from her bed
  • No one spoke when Doris finally made it to dinner
  • Doris made a meal of powdered milk and a cold dinner
  • As she was leaving the room, Mr. Lacey told Doris to feed the puppy lest it die of "starvation"
  • Doris asked Mr. Lacey, "You didn't take her?"
  • Mr. Lacey told Doris that he did take her but that the conditions at the animal shelter were terrible and that he wouldn't leave an "ant" there
  • Rylant tells the audience through the father's actions and words that Doris' father did not have the heart to leave the dog in such a place
  • Mrs. Lacey thought that she would never understand Mr. Lacey because of him not bringing the puppy to the animal shelter
  • Mr. Lacey asked Doris if she was going to feed their dog

Other notes:

  • Doris made an effort to keep the puppy because she saw something special in the puppy
  • Doris always made a positive note about the puppy when she was talking about her to her parents
  • It's hard for one not to cry when someone threatens to take away something that one loves

© 2009 copyright Stray | Cynthia Rylant