Parents' Guide to

Rez Dogs

By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Lyrical celebration of culture, connection in time of COVID.

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What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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Joseph Borchac's lyrical tale of a Native American tween, her family, and the dog who protects them in the pandemic packs a powerful message of family, friendship, culture, community, and connection. Rez Dogs is a worldview and way of being, for the dogs who live on the reservation and the people they connect with, defining who they really are and the ties that bind them. Here, Malian and her parents leave the reservation for Boston, where her dad has an interview with a law firm:

"She was only five,

But she had to ask,

'Why are all those dogs

tied to people like that?

Don't they have any

lives of their own?

How come they're not

allowed to run free?'

"Her dad went down on one knee,

put his hands on her shoulders.

'It's just kind of the way

not only the dogs

but the people have to live

in the city where they're

all so close together.

If they're not controlled,

they might get hurt

or maybe even hurt each other.'

"That was when her mom

smiled down at her dad

and said, 'Well now, Thomas,

it seems to me you could say

that we are rez dogs too.'

"'Woof,' Malian said.

'Woof, woof, woof!'

"Then all three of them

started barking

and laughing together,

no one else walking by


why they were barking,

maybe not even knowing

the three of them were

Indians-- Dad in his suit,

Mom in her best jeans,

and Malian in her new

Catholic school uniform,

three rez dogs in the city.

That was how she

saw them back then

and saw herself still."

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