These stories are a collection of stories from all over the world--the US, the Phillipines, lots of frontier settings--and they're all basically stories about survival.
Most of the settings are frontier ones. Paulsen and his wife (or wives—he has had three but does not distinguish them in My Life in Dog Years, so maybe only one, Ruth Wright, is mentioned in the stories) have lived long on the fringes of civilization, raising much of their own food—or trying to—and roughing it. Paulsen takes his dogs on his frequent adventures in the wilderness. On one such adventure, traveling to Alaska to race in the Iditarod, he acquires an already old, little dog that thinks nothing of roughing it; back home he will bury his teeth in the chest of a charging bear to protect Paulsen's wife. Curiously, this fierce little animal lives to a great age in spite of his uncompromising attitude toward larger creatures, even ones with bigger teeth. The frontier settings are rich in country odors, treacherous paths, near-deaths, and a bunch of dogs Paulsen could not live without.
So, if the setting were in a posh New York apartment where food is provided for the people and dogs at regular intervals and the indoor temperature is controlled and comfy, the story would be markedly different than the Iditarod where the reverse is true.
Choose a setting, and put these characters in it. How do YOU see the story turning out differently? What sort of survival is needed?