A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid

January 21, 2010

dog named christmas Plot summary (with spoilers): George and Mary Ann McCray are hardworking farmers in a small Midwestern town. Three of their four children are grown and have moved out, but 20-year-old Todd still lives at home — and probably always will. Todd has a developmental disability that prevents him from being able to do the usual things that young people his age do. But Todd is a good kid who does what he can to help out with chores on the farm.

From an early age Todd showed an affinity for animals. He always brought in injured birds and critters, and then nursed them back to health before releasing them into the wild again. He wants nothing more than to have a pet of his own, but George has had some sad experiences with dogs and can’t handle the thought of bringing one into the house.

Then one day Todd hears about a special program that the local animal shelter is running. Since it’s Christmastime, the shelter is encouraging folks to “adopt” a dog for the holidays so that the animal can have at least one week of tender loving care and attention. These temporary adoptees can be picked up on December 18th and returned on the 26th with no questions asked. Todd thinks this is a great idea, and pesters George into allowing him to participate.

On the 18th, the two McCray men head down to the shelter and pick out a big black dog that Todd promptly names Christmas. Christmas is a smart animal that obeys very well and obviously had a loving home at one point. Christmas quickly works his way into the hearts of each member of the McCray family, and, this being a feel-good holiday story, they end up adopting the dog at the end of the trial period.


  • Hmm, I liked that the book was short. Does that count?


  • This story was so simplistic that I wonder if it was meant to be for children. Simple stories have their place, for sure, but I was sort of expecting something more touching or poignant here. I’m a sucker for dog stories, so it wouldn’t have taken much to please me. Dogs and Christmas… come on, that seemed like a recipe for a winner, right? But this book just didn’t do it for me.
  • I listened to the audiobook version so I could make my time on the nordic trac a bit more productive. The reader used an incredibly annoying and insultingly stereotypical voice for Todd’s lines. I could barely understand what the guy was saying half the time. Yes, Todd was supposed to be developmentally disabled, but wow, that was taking things kind of far.
  • There was not a single surprising or original scene anywhere in the book. Did any reader expect the McCrays not to adopt the dog by the end? As soon as the father started harping on the return date, it was clear what was gonna happen.


There wasn’t much I liked about A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid, but I didn’t actively hate the book either. It’s kind of a take it or leave it proposition with this one, I guess. I give it 2 stars out of 5.

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