Lob's Girl Summary
“Lob’s Girl” is a short story by Joan Aiken about Sandy Pengelly, a girl who forms a powerful bond with a dog named Lob.
- One day, when Sandy is five, she is playing at the beach with her family when she meets and forms a powerful bond with a dog named Lob.
- Lob’s owner returns home to Liverpool, but twice Lob flees and runs to Sandy, a journey of four hundred miles. The Pengellys agree to adopt Lob.
- After Sandy and Lob are hit by a truck one night, Lob, thought to be deceased, mysteriously visits Sandy at the hospital.
Last Updated on March 15, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1325
The Pengelly family is enjoying a summer day on the beach as the story opens. Sandy, who is five, reads peacefully on the sand while her three-year-old twin siblings, Tim and Tess, wrap each other in seaweed. Sandy’s father, Bert, and her twelve-year-old brother, Don, work on their boat nearby. Jean, her mother, is home preparing Christmas puddings, even though the holiday is still four months away.
As Sandy rolls over to check on the twins, she is blindsided by an Alsatian dog, who covers her in sand. The dog’s owner shouts for the dog to return to him; however, the dog, named Lob, tries to lick Sandy clean instead. Lob wags his tail enthusiastically at Sandy, and she is immediately smitten with him in turn. The dog’s owner apologizes to Sandy, but she insists that Lob is beautiful and begins tossing a stick, which Lob is happy to retrieve for her. Sandy and Lob are instantly devoted to each other.
The family prepares to return home for tea, and the twins ask why they can’t play with Lob every day. Sandy explains that the owner, Mr. Dodsworth, is only in town until Saturday. That evening, the Pengelly family is playing cards by the fire when they hear a loud crash in the kitchen. Investigating this sudden disturbance, they find that Lob has leaped in through the open window. He covers Sandy and the twins with friendly licks. Mr. Pengelly insists that Lob should be returned to his owner.
Upon Lob’s return, his owner scolds him for running away and thanks the family for returning him. Back at their home, Mrs. Pengelly instructs her children not to engage with Lob at the beach so that they won’t further encourage his escape efforts. They try to follow her direction but find Lob’s friendly and playful nature impossible to ignore. Sandy and the twins enjoy a fun-filled day with Lob.
The following day is Saturday, Lob’s day of departure. Sandy secretly walks to the train station, and she observes a change in Lob. He walks with his owner, his ears drooping, and wails a forlorn goodbye as the train leaves.
A week later, the family is again gathered in the front room when they hear a crash in the kitchen. Sandy rushes to the kitchen first, and she finds Lob waiting for her. The two embrace joyfully as Mrs. Pengelly tries to determine how Lob has returned. Sandy notices Lob’s dusty and worn feet and realizes that he must have traveled to her by foot, a distance of over four hundred miles. Mrs. Pengelly insists that Lob should be returned to his rightful owner but makes sure Lob receives a good meal.
The following day, Mr. Pengelly calls Mr. Dodsworth, who takes a train to pick up Lob. Lob’s departure is a crushing blow to all the children; Lob whines as he is forced to leave. Mrs. Pengelly takes the children to a circus the next day to attempt to lift their spirits, but Sandy in particular remains dejected.
Ten days later, Lob again returns to the Pengelly home. This time, he limps and has a torn ear, signs that he has scuffled with another creature somewhere along his four-hundred-mile journey. Mr. Pengelly calls Mr. Dodsworth, who acknowledges that Lob wants to stay with the Pengelly family—not him. He gifts the dog to the Pengellys, and the children are thrilled. The entire family loves Lob, but he is particularly loyal to Sandy, choosing to sleep by her bedside each night. Nine years pass, and Lob is a little stiffer and grayer than he was in his youth. He and Sandy remain steadfast friends as she grows into a teenager.
On one particularly wet and windy evening, Mrs. Pengelly asks Sandy to visit her aunt, who is alone at home. Sandy takes Lob with her and begins walking to her aunt’s house, which is a five-minute journey uphill. Mrs. Pengelly, attempting to drown out the mournful sounds of the storm outdoors, asks that Don put on some music. Because the music is so loud, the family does not hear the sound of a truck crashing into the wall of the post office.
On the same stormy evening, Dr. Travers and his wife, Emily, are driving when they spot a child crumpled on the side of the road. Emily frantically demands that her husband pull over, and both hastily rush to the child’s side. Upon seeing the girl’s injuries, Dr. Travers instructs her wife not to touch her, fearing that her numerous injuries will be worsened with any movement. As Dr. Travers takes efforts to stop some of the bleeding, Emily runs to a nearby house and calls for an ambulance.
After the ambulance takes the child to the hospital, Dr. Travers visits the police station to report his knowledge of the incident. He learns that the same truck that hit this child also crashed into the post office, ignoring signage about the dangers of the incline of the road in this particular area.
Meanwhile, Sandy’s aunt sits at her home alone, irritated by the idea that her niece simply failed to follow through on her commitment to stay with her. Around 9:30 p.m., a visitor arrives to tell her that Sandy has been hit by a truck and is critically injured. Aunt Becky rushes to her brother’s house, where she finds everyone in an anxious state about Sandy’s condition. She agrees to stay with the twins while Sandy’s parents depart for the hospital; Don is searching everywhere for Lob.
At the hospital, Sandy’s broken bones are set, and she is given blood transfusions. Nevertheless, she remains in a coma and shows no signs of recovering consciousness. The following day, Dr. and Mrs. Travers visit Sandy and find that she remains in serious condition.
That afternoon, a dog begins hanging around the hospital. The guard offers the creature part of his sandwich, but the dog refuses to eat. At tea time, Granny Pearce arrives to visit Sandy and finds the guard shoving a soaking-wet Alsatian dog out of the hospital’s entrance. She immediately recognizes the dog as Sandy’s beloved Lob and insists that he be allowed to enter the hospital. The guard deflects the decision to the medical officer, who agrees to allow Lob in as long as he remains outside Sandy’s door.
Granny Pearce takes Lob upstairs, where Sandy’s door remains slightly ajar. Lob tries to get to her bedside, but Granny Pearce restrains him. Lob whines in protest, and the sound causes Sandy to turn her head ever so slightly. Lob whines again, and Sandy opens her eyes to find the source of the sound. She calls for Lob and allows her hand to dangle down from the bed so that she can rub his head, just as she always does each morning at home. With the doctor’s approval, Granny Pearce releases Lob, who goes to Sandy. Sandy smiles as she strokes Lob’s wet ears and reminds him that he is her “good boy” before falling asleep again.
Granny Pearce leads Lob back outside Sandy’s room, and he takes off down the hall. She scolds her son and his wife for not bringing Lob to her granddaughter earlier. Sandy’s parents are horrified, telling Granny Pearce that Don had found Lob dead near the scene where Sandy was killed. His ribs were all broken, and Don had taken the dog out to sea, sinking him into the ocean with concrete tied around his collar. Mr. and Mrs. Pengelly and Granny Pearce turn to look at the wet paw prints that lead down the hallway.
At the Pengelly home, a stone is placed in the garden to honor the life of Sandy’s beloved dog: “Lob. Sandy’s dog. Buried at sea.”
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