Please review "Memoirs of a Yellow Dog" by O.Henry.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With his own inimitable wry humor, O. Henry writes a characteristically delightful story with a surprise ending in "Memoirs of a Yellow Dog." The dog himself is the narrator and it is from his perspective that the reader perceives the main characters, a fat lady and her hen-pecked husband.  Subjected to kisses and ridiculous baby-talk--"oh, oo's un oodlum, doodlu, woodlum, toodlu, bitsy-witsy skoodlums"--the dog who is called Lovey is disgusted by how the husband works while his wife eats and gossips away the day.  When the man comes home, it is he who must walk the dog.

One day, the yellow dog "touches noses" with a black-and-tan terrier who lives across the hall and learns that the reason his owner returns happy from the daily walk is the fact that the man stops into saloons on the way, becoming "spifflicated."  With this information under his collar, the yellow dog pulls up by a saloon the next evening, refuses to go farther, and the man decides to enter and have some "Hot Scotches."  Once outside, the man, whose perspective has been illuminated by drink, decides to release the dog from his confinement, "Good doggie, go away..."  However, the yellow dog refuses to run off in his effort to convince the man that it is he who needs freedom.  The man seems to understand; then, he heads to the Twenty-third Street ferry where he tells the operator of the ferry,

Me and my doggie, we are bound for the Rocky Mountains.

When the man tells Lovey that he is changing his name to "Pete," the yellow dog howls with delight at the liberation of both the man and of himself.  Ironically, it took the intuitive powers of a canine to make the man realize his own servitude. This is accomplished by means of O. Henry's "breezy and slangy" style and his typical mixture of sentiment and humor.

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