What does a little dog need to feel loved and cared for?

A clever little dog christens himself “Sad” when his humans fail to give him a name. Although they feed him and wash him, they don’t appreciate his many gifts, like his love of singing (“stop that yapping!”). When the people move away and leave Sad behind, Sad is heartbroken.

But then a new family with a young boy arrives at Sad’s house in a big truck. Although Sad is initially frightened, it soon becomes clear that the boy is just the right person to make a dog’s life complete with playtime, treats, and a brand-new name: Lucky. Welcoming illustrations illuminate this joyful tale, which reminds young readers to appreciate themselves and the ones—human or otherwise—who depend on them.

  • Explores what it takes to care for a pet. Pets require more than their basic needs met – they need love and attention
  • Provides opportunity to discuss the phenomenon of giving animals/pets for presents, and the plight of the unwanted pet
  • A poignant depiction of Sad by talented illustrator, Tull Suwannakit – creator of What Happens Next?, sure to tug at readers’ heartstrings

“…on each page, small details draw the reader’s eyes: a quizzical bird or two, a concerned mouse, a nervous garden gnome, a thoughtful face on a bunny slipper.” – New York Times, December 2015

Find Out More            Read reviews 

I have to admit when I was first shown a drawing of Sad, I shook my head and said “Sad doesn’t look like that.” But the truth was, as I soon discovered, I didn’t know what Sad looked like and luckily for me, Tull did. My image was a memory of Cassie, the floppy-eared soulful-eyed spaniel type dog who was the inspiration for the story. What I didn’t realise was after I reworked the inspiration into a story, it wasn’t about Cassie any more. It was about Sad. And Sad didn’t look like Cassie, he looked like himself. Which is what Tull knew right from the beginning. His illustrations were a perfect fit.

Sad the Dog Knitting Pattern – download here

Sad the dog pattern sm

knitted sads

Find Out More

A Pet is For Life – Boomerang Books Blog – comparing writing picture books to writing middle grade fiction, Tull’s illustrations

Six Picture Book Truisms – DeeScribe Writing

Creative Kids Tales – Interview – all about writing Sad

Meet The Team – Reading Upside Down – Sandy and Tull each answer 5 question including describing each other

Sad the Dog Mobile Makerspace Workshop – ChildrensBooksDaily – makerspace and draft ideas for Sad, the Dog

Meet Sandy Fussell – Wordmothers – interview


Sad, the Dog is a multi-layered text of great beauty and gentle wisdom… It could just as easily be read and studied by middle primary readers as an exquisite example of the craft of picture books – the interplay between text and illustrations, the multiple levels on which a picture book can work and the depth of feeling which can be harnessed in so few words and images…. Tull Suwannakit’s illustrations are in perfect harmony with the text. The emotions on the faces of his people (disdain, loathing, disinterested and utter love) are only surpassed by the emotion he manages to convey on Sad, the Dog’s face. The colour palette is sophisticated, as is his illustration style, but there is still warmth and major child appeal in every image. -Megan Daley, ChildrensBooksDaily

The emotive text by author Sandy Fussell, well-known for her Samurai Kidsseries, is beautifully complemented by Tull Suwannakit’s watercolour illustrations. Sad, the Dog is a lovely story that invites children to talk about belonging and how we can ensure that our pets (and family, and friends) feel loved and included. – Kid’s Book Review

This is a heartwarming tale about a little dog with no official name who calls himself Sad. A lovely balance of evocative writing and memorable illustrations. Recommended! – Susan Stephenson, The Book Chook

When I read picture books I tend to wear two hats – my preschool teacher’s hat (will a rowdy group of preschoolers like this book? What are its educational possibilities?) and my book lovers hat (do I love this book?) In recent years I have also added a third and fourth hat – my bookseller’s beret (will this book sell? Who to?) and my blogger beanie (does this book have review potential?) Sad, the Dog by Sandy Fussell is one of those special picture books that I can answer YES, YES, YES to all the above. – Brona’s Books

While this story has a rather sad opening, you won’t be able to keep from smiling at the uplifting, heartwarming ending. Paired with absolutely perfect illustrations, this is a gorgeous book for kids and grown-ups alike, and delivers an important message with regards to animals as gifts, just in time for Christmas. – Stephanie O’Connell, 100% Rock Magazine

I love this intimation and heart-warming message that permeates throughout this picture book, and is captured so beautifully by Tull Suwannakit’s  glorious watercolour illustrations.Dimity Powell, Boomerang Books Blog

The story is told in clear, simple words that are wonderful for reading aloud, especially by a parent to a child; the watercolour illustrations perfectly match the tone of the story. – Buzz Words Magazine

A true testament to never giving up hope. – Creative Kids Tales 

This one well and truly passed the kid test at our house and after reading it aloud, we got “can we read it again” straight away. I loved how it tugs at your heart strings and how beautiful the relationship is between the boy who adopts Sad and his new doggy best friend. The illustrations are particularly impressive.  This is a book about a neglected dog that finds happiness and is guaranteed to make you smile.- Story Mama

Sad is so cute, and so wants to be loved, that I can’t help wanting him to find happiness! – Kiss the Book

Sad, the dog is a wonderful story to share with children and reinforce the responsibilities of being a pet owner. It will be a great book to read with your children as well as a good book for the classroom. Sad, the dog can be used to introduce explanation or procedure writing, can support narrative writing and can help children develop arguments for and against good pet care. The text is easy to read and is highly recommended for all readers. – ReadPlus