In the Dog Park with Sam and Lucy Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2
Civil Society
Philanthropic Act
Social Action
by Harriet Ziefert - A literature guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to build children's understanding of generosity, community, and service to others.

Sam and Lucy can’t wait to get to the dog park to play and socialize with their dog friends. The dogs chase each other, sniff, play catch and tug of war, and run through the pond. Though short on words, this story is not short on charm. Narrated by the thoughts of the dogs, this book conveys the joy of a trip to the dog park. Dogs, just like people, need time to let loose, have fun, and play with others like themselves. The fresh air, the exercise, and the time with other dogs keeps them healthy and happy. Is there a place where your dog can run free? If not, this book is a superb inspiration for making a dog park a reality in your community.

Before Reading

ASK: Do you have a dog? Does your dog like to run, play fetch or tug, and just frolic around? Where do you take your dog when it wants to have fun?

SHOW: Look at the front and back covers of this book, and read the title.

CONNECT: The story we will read is about a dog park. Can you tell by looking at the cover what a dog park is? You probably know what the word dog means, and you probably know what the word park means. Now put them together.

During Reading

ASK: How do you think the dogs at the park feel? Read the words on each page. Point to the picture of the dog that you think is saying each group of words.

SHOW: Look at all the different dogs on the pages. How can you tell how they are feeling? [Hint: Look at their, eyes, tails, mouths, and ears.]

CONNECT: How do you feel when you get to play on the playground or with a favorite toy? Are you happy, excited, silly, or frisky? This is the way that the dogs in this book feel.

After Reading

ASK: Why do you think it is important for dogs to get to play in the park? What things in the story make you think this?

SHOW: Look at the pictures of Sam and Lucy sleeping at the end of the story. What do you think they might dream about?

CONNECT: Do you have a place you can take your dog to run freely and play. If you do, great! Keep it up. If not, read the information on the last page of the book for ways to get involved with creating a dog park.


  1. To find a dog park near you, go to This site lists off-leash dog parks in your area, as well as dog-friendly restaurants, hotels, parks, beaches, pet stores, and more.
  2. Design your own dog park. You will need craft supplies and your imagination. First make a list of all the things you think a dog would like in a park. You might include a pond to swim in, lots of trees, and some grass. Don’t forget a fence! Now create your park on paper. You could draw or glue down different shapes of colored paper to create your dog park. Be sure to label everything, just like you see in the book. When you are done, add lots of dogs having fun!
  3. Write your own pet story. Think of a place your pet would enjoy going for a visit. Draw pictures that show your pet having a good time. Have an adult help you staple the pictures together to make a book. On each page, write what you think your pet might be thinking.
  4. Choose one dog from the story that you especially like. Use the Internet or a dog breed book to find out the type of dog and what special needs the dog breed might have. Would this be a good dog for your family?
  5. Dogs don’t just enjoy dog parks, they can also enjoy parks for people as well, usually while on a leash and in the company of a responsible person to “pick-up.” Most cities and states allow dogs in public parks as long as they follow a few rules. But, it takes money to keep our public parks looking ship-shape, and often state and local funds aren’t enough. You can help out by raising money to donate to your local parks department. Here are some ideas to get you started:
      • Host a dog run/walk. Charge an entry fee and donate the proceeds. (See for an example)
      • Set up a table at a popular park during a busy time and sell “poop pick-up” bags, water for the dogs and humans, tennis balls, and dog biscuits for a small fee and donate the proceeds. You can use permanent markers on the bags and tennis balls to decorate the items. You can also make home made biscuits. See the recipe on the web site at:
      • [Be sure to get permission before starting any of these activities, especially if they take place in a public park.]
  6. Keep your local dog and people parks clean and safe for everyone to use. Trash and animal waste that is left in parks can be dangerous for dogs and their owners. So, choose a park in your area that you’d like to clean up. Gather trash bags, thick rubber gloves (kitchen type), and old newspaper delivery bags or reused sandwich baggies. As a family, visit the park and pick up any trash you see. Be sure to wear your gloves and have an adult pick up any animal waste or sharp-looking objects. The newspaper bags and sandwich baggies work well for the animal waste.