Reader, I cried. Stargazing Dog is a beautiful, poignant work on love and death and I dare you to not to cry while reading it.
In the first story, "Stargazing Dog," a man who has lost everything sets out on a journey south, to the place of his childhood. His only companion is his faithful dog, Happie, brought home years ago by his daughter and then discarded out of indifference. The journey starts out well enough, but quickly goes wrong. The man and the dog attempt to make do, but in the end ... well, there is no happy ending in Stargazing Dog.
And yet the book possesses a great deal of humor and affection. It was hard not to root for the characters to succeed, even though I knew their sad ending was inevitable. The man doesn't start out as the nicest or most empathetic person and he makes some unsupportable decisions, but he did grow on me and, anyway, no-one deserves that ending. Although, I'd guess versions of it happen everyday. And Happie? Happie is just a lovely dog possessed of heartbreaking loyalty.
The second story, "Sunflowers," reveals some of what happens after "Stargazing Dog" as well as telling the story of young policeman and a dog he once owned. This is not a happy story and I felt fairly wretched for the dog. Not that his life was a terrible one -- it's just that animals deserve much better rewards for such unconditional love and loyalty.
Stargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami (NBM Publishing, 2011)