Graham Salisbury

Night of the Howling Dogs

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Night of the Howling Dogs Summary

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Night of the Howling Dogs is a young adult adventure novel by Graham Salisbury. First published in 2007, the book follows what happened when Salisbury’s cousin survived a tsunami in Hawaii in 1975. The book received praise for highlighting the importance of teamwork and leadership. Critics have praised it for appealing to a broad range of readers. Although Salisbury comes from a journalist family, he prefers writing about fictional characters. He is especially interested in exploring the journey that young people face before becoming adults. Before writing full-time, Salisbury worked as a deckhand and the skipper of a glass-bottom boat.

Although Night of the Howling Dogs is based on real-life events, the protagonist, 13-year-old Dylan, is a fictional character. The book takes place in Halape, which is a quiet area on the Big Island of Hawaii. The spot is right below an old volcano called Mauna Loa. Dylan travels there with his scout group for a camping excursion. He’s very excited because he loves experiencing new places.

Dylan wishes his father could join him on the trip, but he knows that it won’t happen. His father travels all over the world as a big-ship skipper. He rarely sees his son. Dylan isn’t close to him, but luckily, he has friends. Dylan’s best friend is Casey Bellows. Casey’s father, Mr Bellows, is an ex-marine and popular Hilo Police detective. When he isn’t working for the police department, he serves as the troop’s Scoutmaster.

Dylan often feels insecure. He worries that he isn’t good enough. He’s physically strong for his age, but he is the only boy in the troop who wears very thick glasses. Casey tells him to stop worrying because no one notices the glasses. Still, Dylan can’t help feeling self-conscious. He wishes that he could do something to prove that he isn’t weak or “nerdy”.

When the book opens, Dylan and Casey pick up various other troop members. It’s the first time that they all meet their newest troop member, Louie Domingo. Louie is a full-blooded Hawaiian who thinks that he’s better than everyone else. He doesn’t take anyone seriously unless they are also full-blooded Hawaiians. Dylan is only half-Hawaiian, which is bound to cause conflict.

Louie instantly dislikes Dylan. He teases him about his glasses and his half-Hawaiian status. He assumes that he’ll take over the troop as the alpha because he’s the oldest. Dylan and Casey have other ideas, but Mr Bellows warns everyone they must get along. The other boys ignore Louie and side with Dylan.

When the troop arrives at their location, they hike to a secluded beach and set up camp. They spot wild dogs in the distance. The dogs watch their camp and they creep the boys out. Dylan distracts himself by talking to a local man called Masa. Masa tells Dylan and Casey all about the friendly neighbourhood shark, Fred. Fred won’t bite no matter how hungry he gets.
Dylan can’t stop thinking about the dogs. Masa tells him that the dogs are shapeshifters. They are goddesses in disguise, and they live in the volcano. If humans anger them, they cause earthquakes, fires, and tidal waves. Dylan doesn’t think he’ll sleep that night because sleeping beside goddesses sounds terrifying.

For two or three nights, Dylan wakes up to dogs howling and barking in the distance. He hates the sounds because they feel ominous. He tells Casey that he’s worried, but Casey tells him to stop being childish. They don’t dare tell Louie. However, there’s nothing childish about Dylan’s fears when, one night, a nasty earthquake shakes the island.

When Dylan and Casey awake, the camp’s shaking. Mr Bellows isn’t so worried about the earthquake. He’s more concerned by the possibility of a tsunami. He instructs the boys to pack up camp and get out of there, but he’s too late. The tsunami, building in the distance, trundles towards the island, wiping out the camp.

Dylan clings to the trees and he survives the tsunami. Casey is nowhere to be found. The first survivor Dylan finds is Louie. Louie is angry and aggressive at first, but it’s only because he’s terrified. Because he’s the oldest, he thinks he should step up and look after Dylan, but he isn’t ready. Dylan, on the other hand, steps up.

Dylan helps Louie navigate to safety. He comes up with a plan to find the other survivors and reunite the camp. The most important thing is finding help, or at least finding Mr Bellows. Dylan impresses Louie with his fearlessness as they traverse the wilderness together. Louie must admit that Dylan is braver than he looks.

Meanwhile, Dylan leads Louie towards the survivors. No one dies. Everyone cheers Dylan for reuniting the troop. Mr Bellows signals for help, and the coastguard arrives. Aboard the helicopter is Dylan’s father. He’s so proud of his son and promises to spend more time with him, because time is too precious to waste. Everyone leaves the island on the helicopter. Dylan feels like a man now.