1 To the north
Buck did not read the newspapers. He did not know that trouble was coming for every
Big dog in California. Men had found gold in the Yukon, and these men wanted big, strong
Dogs to work in the cold and snow of the north.
Buck lived in Mr Miller’s big house in the sunny Santa Clara valley. There were large
Gardens and fields of fruit trees around the house, and a river nearby. In a big place like this,
Of course, there were many dogs. There were house dogs and farm dogs, but they were not
Buck was chief dog; he was born here, and this was his place. He was four years old and
Weighed sixty kilos. He went swimming with Mr Miller’s sons, walking with his daughters.
He carried the grandchildren on his back, and he sat at Mr Miller’s feet in front of the fire in
But this was 1897, and Buck did not know that men and dogs were hurrying to northwest
Canada to look for gold. And he did not know that Manuel, one of Mr Miller’s
Gardeners, needed money for his large family. One day, when Mr Miller was out, Manuel
And Buck left the garden together. It was just an evening walk, Buck thought. No one saw
Them go, and only one man saw them arrive at the railway station. This man talked to
Manuel, and gave him some money. Then he tied a piece of rope around Buck’s neck.
Buck growled, and was surprised when the rope was pulled hard around his neck. He
Jumped at the man. The man caught him and suddenly Buck was on his back with his tongue
Out of his mouth. For a few moments he was unable to move, and it was easy for the two
Men to put him into the train.
When Buck woke up, the train was still moving. The man was sitting and watching him,
But Buck was too quick for him and he bit the man’s hand hard. Then the rope was pulled
Again and Buck had to let go.
evening, the man took Buck to the back room of a bar in San Francisco. The barman
Looked at the man’s hand and trousers covered in blood.
‘How much are they paying you for this?’ he asked.
‘I only get fifty dollars.’
‘And the man who stole him – how much did he get?’ asked the barman.
‘A hundred. He wouldn’t take less.’
‘That makes a hundred and fifty. It’s a good price for a dog like him. Here, help me to get
Him into this.’
They took off Buck’s rope and pushed him into a wooden box. He spent the night in the
Box in the back room of the bar. His neck still ached with pain from the rope, and he could
Not understand what it all meant. What did they want with him, these strange men? And
Where was Mr Miller?
The next day Buck was carried in the box to the railway station and put on a train to the
North. For two days and nights the train travelled north, and for two days and nights Buck
Neither ate nor drank. Men on the train laughed at him and pushed sticks at him through the
Holes in the box. For two days and nights Buck got angrier and hungrier and thirstier. His
Eyes grew red and he bit anything that moved.
In Seattle four men took Buck to a small, high-walled back garden, where a fat man in an
Old red coat was waiting. Buck was now very angry indeed and he jumped and bit at the
Sides of his box. The fat man smiled and went to get an axe and a club.
‘Are you going to take him out now?’ asked one of the men.
‘Of course,’ answered the fat man, and he began to break the box with his axe.
Immediately the four other men climbed up onto the wall to watch from a safe place.