Illustration of Buck in the snow with mountains in the background

The Call of the Wild

by Jack London

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In The Call of the Wild, how is Buck's life at Judge Miller's place?

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Buck lived a pampered life at Judge Miller’s place.

Buck was not always a sled dog.  Before he was kidnapped, he was a pampered house pet.  Judge Miller was wealthy, living on a large farm in Santa Clara, California.  It was warm and sunny, and Buck had extensive grounds to explore.

Buck lived at a big house in the sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley. Judge Miller's place, it was called. It stood back from the road, half-hidden among the trees, through which glimpses could be caught of the wide cool veranda that ran around its four sides.

The land was his domain, and Buck was in charge.  There were other dogs there, but Buck was large and beautiful, and he was everyone’s favorite.  He played with the judge’s kids and lived in the house.  He was Judge Miller's special pet.  The other dogs didn't count.

But Buck was neither house dog nor kennel dog. The whole realm was his. He plunged into the swimming tank or went hunting with the Judge's sons; he escorted Mollie and Alice, the Judge's daughters, on long twilight or early morning rambles; on wintry nights he lay at the Judge's feet before the roaring library fire …

Until Buck was stolen, he never suffered.  He had everything he ever needed, and his will was his command.  He never imagined that he was some day going to be a working dog.  When Manuel took him and sold him to become an Alaska sled dog, Buck was nowhere near ready. 

Although he was big and furry, and kept himself in reasonable shape, he had never been in the snow and didn’t know how to pull a sled.  He had also never been mistreated, and certainly not beaten.  Buck's life changed completely and he had to learn to survive with commands from dogs and people.

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What dog lives with Buck in Judge Miller's house in The Call of the Wild?  

Toots, Ysabel, and a few other dogs live with Buck in the house.

Buck is the main dog on Judge Miller’s ranch, at least from his perspective. He is the biggest and the most important dog on the ranch. While there are other dogs, they do not matter to Buck and he doesn’t think they matter as much to Judge Miller.

They came and went, resided in the populous kennels, or lived obscurely in the recesses of the house after the fashion of Toots, the Japanese pug, or Ysabel, the Mexican hairless, strange creatures that rarely put nose out of doors or set foot to ground. (Ch. 1)

There are also twenty hunting dogs, fox terriers, who do little more than yap at the house dogs when they are not going out on the hunt. Buck does not pay much attention to them. They are not much more than noise to him. They are just working dogs. Buck is the favorite.

But Buck was neither house dog nor kennel dog. The whole realm was his. He plunged into the swimming tank or went hunting with the Judge's sons; he escorted Mollie and Alice, the Judge's daughters . . . on wintry nights he lay at the Judge's feet before the roaring library fire . . . (Ch. 1)

Buck’s father, Elmo, was a St. Bernard, which is a very big breed, and his mother was a “a Scotch shepherd dog.” Buck weighed one hundred and forty pounds and carried himself regally when he lived with Judge Miller. No doubt this is why he was valuable enough for Manuel to steal him in the first place.

Buck’s life on Judge Miller’s ranch was an easy one. He did pretty much as he pleased and he was treated as a beloved pet. His life changed forever as soon as Manuel took the leash. Buck assumed he was going for a walk, but he was really being kidnapped and sold into sled-dog slavery.

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