What the Dog Knows by Sylvia McNicoll

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and change the past? “What the Dog Knows” is an inspiring tale about a girl, Naomi, and her dog, Diesel, who get the chance for a do-over. This story, written by author Sylvia McNicoll, is a story about true friendship. This book is recommended for ages 9 –12. I was amazed by the emotion I felt throughout the novel. So many times, I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next.

“This story takes place during the summer, the worst summer Naomi will probably ever experience.”

This story takes place during the summer, the worst summer Naomi will probably ever experience. To start off, her dad loses his job and her parents break up. Her mom needs to find a job to cover rent and Naomi is left to babysit her fifteen-month-old cousin, Luanne, which means Naomi has to miss out on her swimming lessons. To top it all off, her dog, Diesel, gets hit by a red Smart Car and passes away. Then on July 1st, at 4:30 pm, Naomi’s sometime friend, Morgan, convinces her to jump off a dock. Naomi gets taken under by a wave and drowns… or so she thought.

Naomi is very confused when she wakes up in her backyard, on June 25th, with a bump on her head. That was the day Diesel had died, but for some reason, he was there, and they could hear each other’s thoughts and speak to each other. When Naomi looked down at the watch her dad had given her for her birthday, the date read 4:30 pm, THU July 1st and no matter how often she sets the right time and date, it would always change back. Diesel explained to her that it was her life counter and once “the pack” was safe it would return to normal.

This is where the story begins. Naomi thought she was going crazy or dreaming, but if she truly was getting a second chance, she was determined to keep Diesel safe, and maybe try to get her parents back together. She was also going to make some changes, including training Diesel and learning how to swim. Morgan was there to help her with both of those tasks. Morgan had a well-trained dog named King who had passed away, so she had some tips and tricks to offer to Naomi. Her uncle was also taking care of a pool, so Morgan and Naomi went there as it was private, and Morgan taught Naomi how to swim.

I had so many questions I couldn’t wait to find the answers to while reading this book, such as; Will Naomi’s parents get back together? When will Naomi’s watch return to normal? Can Diesel save Naomi and can Naomi save Diesel? This novel is about love, loyalty and friendship. Diesel is such a funny character you can’t help but laugh and Naomi is so sweet you just want everything to turn out well. In the end, I was not disappointed, and I would definitely recommend this book.


Sylvia McNicoll has written over thirty-five novels for young audiences, including Body Swap and the Great Mistake Mystery series, inspired by her own errors and dog walks with her grandchildren. What the Dog Knows is a tribute to the many dogs she’s loved. She lives in Burlington, Ontario.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Dundurn Press (May 24 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1459749898
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1459749894

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