The first major event that happens in Kate DiCamillo's award-winning young reader's novel Because of Winn-Dixie is that the protagonist Opal meets Winn-Dixie. Opal had been sent by her father to pick up a few items at the Winn-Dixie grocery store. While in the store, the manager gets angered at seeing a stray dog in the store, which knocks fruits, vegetables, and even the manager to the floor. Opal is so struck by how happy the dog appears to be that she brings him home, as we see in her following description:
He was a big dog. And ugly. And he looked like he was having a real good time. His tongue was hanging out and he was wagging his tail. He skidded to a stop and smiled right at me. I had never before in my life seen a dog smile, but that is what he did. (p. 8)
Other major events in the novel concern all the many friends Winn-Dixie helps Opal make, starting with the librarian Miss Block. Opal starts going to the library in her new town each day to alleviate her loneliness, but Winn-Dixie hates this trip because he hates being left alone and can't go inside with her. To remedy the situation, Opal teaches him to stand on his hind legs and look into the library window so he can see her inside. However, Miss Block gets frightened when she sees him in the window, mistaking him for a bear due to a previous, terrifying encounter she had had with a bear walking into the library. Opal convinces Miss Block to let her bring in Winn-Dixie so that they can both listen to her long story of her encounter with a bear; thus, the friendship between Opal and Miss Block is born.