Walking the Dog

This study guide will help you analyse the short story “Walking the Dog” by Bernard MacLaverty. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Walking the Dog” (1994)
Author: Bernard MacLaverty
Genre: Short story

Bernard MacLaverty (b. 1942) is an Irish novelist. His literary works are mostly about life in the British Isles and especially about the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. One of his most popular works is the novel Cal.


Below, you can read an extract from our study guide:


The title of the short story only suggests the events to be narrated are going to take place while a character is walking his/her dog. Those who are familiar with the author’s literary work might suspect that the events could have something to do with the conflict in Northern Ireland. Upon reading the story, we realise the title is also symbolic. While the character is, indeed, walking his dog, the narrative is also about how John gets almost killed by so-called fighters in the IRA. However, you should note that the fighters most probably are not members of the IRA but only claim so to deceive John.

The title suggests that violence and the risk of getting killed in Northern Ireland became as common as walking one’s dog and that the abuse of power makes others feel like dogs on a leash.

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Walking the Dog

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