This article contains major plot spoilers! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is the fourth book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series written by Jeff Kinney. It was published on October 12, 2009 in the USA and October 13, 2009 in Canada by Abram Books through their imprint Amulet Books. It revolves around Greg Heffley's summer break of his seventh grade year.
- Greg Heffley (Main Character)
- Susan Heffley (Main Antagonist)
- Rodrick Heffley
- Frank Heffley
- Manny Heffley
- Rowley Jefferson
The story begins with Greg Heffley explaining how his mom wants him to get some sunlight in the room while Greg is playing video games. Greg also explains how he and Rowley Jefferson invited Trista, a girl they met in the ending of The Last Straw to Rowley's country club, but she met a lifeguard and hung out with him, so Greg and Rowley started hanging out without her. Within a few weeks, Rowley's dad gets sick of Greg's constructive criticism about the quality of service of the club, and bans him from entering the place with Rowley. The beach trip that they've planned is also cancelled due to the lack of money, so Greg's family goes to the town pool, which he dislikes because of older, hairy men showering in the open shower stalls.
Susan takes Greg to get a haircut as she thinks he looks "shaggy", but instead of his regular place, she takes him to Bombshells Beauty Salon, where Susan and her mother get their hair done. While he is there, he reads a tabloid and remembers that Gramma reads tabloids. One thing Gramma read that may have come from a tabloid but also possibly from the internet or something said cordless phones erase the memory of the elderly, so she didn't answer her phone, causing Mom to get worried and come to her house. Gramma said the information was from The New York Times. Greg fishes a tabloid out the trash can and "learned" North America will be underwater in six months, which takes the pressure out of him to do well at school.
The barber also tells Greg about the town gossip. Susan picks him up in the middle of a story of Mr. Peppers and his new wife who was twenty years younger than him.
Later, Greg and Rowley have a sleepover together, and watch a horror movie called Hello, You're Dead taken from Greg's older brother, Rodrick. After the movie, Greg and Rowley soon became scared and borderline paranoid of a muddy hand (from the film) that might strangle them. Unfortunately for Greg, Susan finds out about the movie and starts a reading club because she thinks he needs to be well read, in which he is the only participant after several weeks. People were into this so they bring their favorite book, however, Susan disallowed all the books and gave them "classic" books instead as the books they brought aren't actually "real books". Afterwards, all the boys left the club until there is only one member left: Greg. The reading program, however, is put to a stop when Mr. Jefferson arrives with an $83 bill that Greg and Rowley spent on drinks at the country club, namely fruit smoothies, and he forces the two to pay it off. Greg, at first hand attempts to pay back the bill by mowing lawns with a team he calls the VIP Lawn Service, and their first customer is Mrs. Canfield. Greg and Rowley end up in some difficulties in operating, in ways such as the gasoline spilling over. Before the two boys start, Greg states that Rowley should clear it for him, whilst Greg starts working on his so-called "business plan". Rowley however, gets quickly annoyed at the idea, and states that Greg should help him clear the lawn too. Greg tries to find a chance to manipulate Rowley, but then Rowley, unable to tolerate Greg's way of working, decides to leave. Greg clears the lawn individually, although he struggles over the areas covered in dog poop. Greg finishes the clearing of the lawn, but Mrs. Canfield finds the service "lousy" and refuses to pay Greg the thirty dollars she promised, and Greg gets frustrated that Mrs. Canfield won't even drive him home. Greg, tries to find other ways to pay that bill, and tries to contact Rowley about them, but Rowley was at the movies with his father, and Greg became very annoyed that Rowley did not tell him he was going to take the day off.
After Greg's fight, Greg's mother quickly gets to know about the conflict and attempts to make Greg happy. This, however does not please Greg, as his mother tries to make Greg happy in ways such as inviting Fregley over, a person Greg isn't fond of at all, and encouraging father-to-son bonding, something that also displeases Greg, the same amount if not more. Mom takes Greg to the Bombshells Beauty Salon again, and she hears that he and Rowley had a falling-out. The barber says that she's seen Rowley and his father together playing tennis and other stuff. The last time Greg and his dad had a father-son bonding, it ended up with Greg pulling Dad out of a creek as he wrongly interpreted the word "duck".
For Greg's birthday, all of his relatives come over. Unfortunately, his mom confiscates Greg's birthday money to pay off the $83 bill for Rowley's father. Greg is also frustrated that his relatives have not given him a single gift that he wanted and received all gifts he doesn't like very much, such as books he hates/doesn't read and clothes he doesn't really need. Greg also gets a "Ladybug" cell phone but it is far from what he expected, as he views the Ladybug cellphone as junk and not a "real" cellphone because the Ladybug only allows him to call home and 911. Greg goes to the next room to cut the cake, but becomes even more upset when Uncle Joe's dog eats his cake and vomits it in front of Greg, thus making his birthday a bit of a disappointment all around. After Greg's birthday, Greg's mother allows Rodrick and Greg to each get a fish for a pet, to make Greg feel a bit better after Uncle Joe's dog ate Greg's cake. Greg picks out an angelfish and Rodrick decides on a fish, because it is labeled "aggressive." Manny picks out fish food, but eats half the container before they get home. When the family goes to the water park, it begins to rain and then they leave. Mom had a headache so she lay down in the back. When they got to a gas station, Greg's mom left the car to go to the bathroom and the Heffleys forgot about her until they came home. After some thinking, they went back to the gas station where they stopped for gas, where Mom was there. Afterward, Rodrick's aggressive fish ate Greg's angel fish.
The next day is Father's Day, so the Heffleys visit Leisure Towers to spend the day with Greg's grandfather. Greg felt bad about his dead fish. There, Frank tells of how his dog named Nutty ran away to a butterfly farm. Greg's grandfather reveals that he had actually accidentally ran over the dog while parking his car in the garage, when he thought Nutty was Frank's skateboard. Greg's father takes off in a state of being really mad, and then buys a dog. Manny, Rodrick and Greg try to give the dog a proper name, but Manny can only thing of Elephant or Zebra aka Zeb, Rodrick wants to name the dog Turtle or "Turd" for short and Greg wants to name him Shredder or Ripjaw as he thinks those names are cool, but Susan thinks they are too violent and names the dog "Sweetheart" and shortens it to "Sweetie", to Greg's dismay, as Greg views that the dog is actually male not female and thinks the name is for girls. Frank sends Rodrick to the mall to buy a dog bowl with Sweetie's name printed on it but Rodrick comes back with Sweetie's name misspelled "Sweaty". Even though Greg wanted a dog for a long time, he quickly becomes annoyed at Sweetie, who drools on his pillow, sleeps on his bed, interrupts his privacy in the bathroom and won't stop barking at the television unless a certain advertisment with gophers comes on. Sweetie finally kisses Frank, Greg thinks it is because Frank had potato chips on his breath. On the 4th of July, the Heffleys go to the town pool. However, it is way more crowded than it was last year. Greg also tells about being in the baby pool whenever there was a rest break but stopping when he hears a toddler claim to be peeing, and jumping on the diving boards when Rodrick said there was a clown up there. They go to the picnic area where they hand out free watermelon, which Greg also has a fear of because Rodrick said a watermelon will grow in his stomach if he swallows the seeds. When the fireworks were about to start, the show was cancelled because the fireworks got soaked the last night in the rain. However, the fireworks at the country club started then. Greg also finds a Back To School advertisement in the newspaper leaving him concerned and put out about a near-future all day shopping trip with his mom. Greg later tries to impress Heather Hills, but he failed. When someone randomly vomited under Heather's chair, there was Heather waiting for Greg to do something but that was way ahead of what Greg thought he was supposed to do. Greg never went to see Heather again. At the end of summer, she went to college, so their long-distance relationship will never work out. The Heffleys run into the Jeffersons and Greg's mom agreed about the idea about taking Greg on a beach trip with the Jeffersons and then says Greg would, before Robert Jefferson could shut the idea down. When Greg gets to Rowley's beach house he notices that there's nothing fun to do except read, which he dislikes. On the bright side, he also finds out about how great the dinner was, but dessert he found awful as there was spinach in the brownies. He had a nasty suprise when he notices they have to share a bed and Rowley knocks him out of bed by having scary "chicken dreams". The next morning, Greg fiddles with Mr. Jefferson's computer, sending an email to his mother that said "HELP HELP GET ME OUT OF HERE THESE PEOPLE ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY". Mr. Jefferson is angry at Greg for sending that message. Mr Jefferson got a repeat message saying that family vacations are challenges and asked if Greg was being good (most of his bad behavior was on the e-mail). Later on, Greg went on the Cranium Shaker which made him feel dizzy and queasy, and then after spending time in the archade went pranking people with a one dollar bill but then a random kid caught it. Greg went to bed with Rowley before 8pm (and before the sun goes down). and then shocked Rowley with a zap of static. Rowley got revenge by zapping Greg back. Then later, he got Rowley again with a ruber band, and then the Jeffersons called Greg's parents.
Frank is mad at Greg for wasting four hours due to the long car drive, though Greg's mom says that the event was just "horseplay" and that Rowley and Greg are still friends, devoid of the fact that their friendship may be slipping. Then a newspaper article shows that Bob Post's son Tyler Post wil continue doing "Li'l Cutie." Susan convinces Frank to take Greg to a baseball game, even though Greg is unaware of this. His father tries to keep it a secret, but Greg overhears his father talking about getting rid of someone, and Greg believes that his father is trying to "ship" Greg off to somewhere. Rodrick tells Greg that his father is going to sell him, as he shows him clues in his father's planner, on Sunday August 20, he will be sold. Greg, however, notices that the poor quality handwriting is Rodrick's, but is uncertain whether this is actually going to happen as Greg knows his dad is very unpredictable. He calls the police using his Ladybug when he induces that his dad is taking him to an orphanage; he realizes that his father was actually talking about giving Sweetie away to Grandma, and was going to take Greg to a baseball game. Due to a long talk with the police, Frank is no longer in the mood to watch a baseball game and gave the two cops the tickets, since he becomes extremely disgusted with Greg's actions and takes Greg home without a word.
The book comes to a close with Greg's video game "championship." Greg, in one last attempt to idiotically manipulate Rowley, calls him and tells him to come to the championship, promising that there will be prizes. Rowley is initially reluctant, as he still believes that Greg is a manipulator of electricity, and refuses to go unless Greg does not use his "electric powers" against him. Greg "promises" not to use them and he and Rowley camp out in front of the Game Hut. Greg decides to scare Rowley by pretending that his chocolate-covered hand was the Muddy Hand. Greg doesn't expect Rowley to be awake, but immediately realizes his mistake when Rowley foolishly hammers the hand, injuring Greg's thumb and disrupting his ability to play video games. Greg ends up losing due to his injury, and Rowley walks away with the alternative grand prize of a "giant box of chocolate-covered raisins." Greg became very angry for Rowley hammering his hand and their friendship breaks up.
The book ends with Greg stating that his summer would have been better if he stayed in the house, and also claims that Rowley was never seen by him since Rowley beat Greg in the competition, and his father hasn't spoken to him yet since Greg almost got him arrested. Despite Greg's father being mad at Greg, they find a common ground through mutual dislike for a newspaper comic strip, in which the writer had passed down to his son and made the comic even worse. Greg realizes that summer is over when he sees a photo album titled "Best Summer Ever!" The photo album incorrectly records most of the summer pictures.
- On page 28, it doesn't show the "Hi Rodrick" written on the inside of the furnace room door that Greg and Rodrick moved there in Rodrick Rules.
- Date and time is incorrect in this book, June lasts for about six weeks.
- In one UK shipping soon after the release, there was an error with the book - the cover was flipped, so that if the cover was the right way up, the pages inside would read upside down.
Trivia, Goofs and Facts
- Even though Greg receives a "Ladybug" cellphone in this book, he reveals he didn't bring it to school in The Ugly Truth. This implies Frank may have confiscated it due to the fact that Greg nearly had him arrested due to calling the police, lost it at some point, is not allowed to bring it to school, simply left it to avoid being humiliated or forgot about it. It later reappeared in Hard Luck.
- This is the final book to use explanation marks in paragraphs.
- This is the first book to mostly feature stories that aren't in the online version.
- Trista made a cameo at the beginning of the book.
- In the previous book, when Greg and Rowley went outside, it is revealed Trista is from New Mexico, and just moved in from the neighborhood.
- On Gramma's lawn mower, the instructions were written in Spanish.
- Greg's gramma referred to Rodrick Rules, in which they raked leaves and dead grass was left all over her front yard.
- This is the last book that take place during the summer until The Long Haul. all the book between this two take place during the same year.
- Susan tries to make the summer fun for Greg, but it doesn't work.
- When Susan makes a "Reading is Fun" club Greg brings the book "Magick and Monsters: Dark Realms Volume 9 Shadowdoom" and Susan doesn't like the way it portrays women on the cover. From what Greg can remember there aren't any women in the book.
- This is also the second appearence of Magick And Monsters. The first was in Rodrick Rules.
- On August 3 2012 a film based on this book and The Last Straw, it was called Dog Days.
- Rodrick lies to Greg about being shipped away because Dad is mad about the Rowley thing. What really happens is that Rodrick goes downstairs and wrote on August 22 saying "Sell Greg." He then leaves and go to Greg's room and tells what is going to happen.
- Greg's best friend Rowley becomes an ex-best friend in the end of this book. This continues in The Ugly Truth until Greg and Rowley become best friends again.
- Presumably, Greg has his "big fight" with Rowley after the log cabin holiday. This is hinted as towards the end of this book, they are on uneasy terms, meaning they already had their big fight, although the actual fight isn't mentioned until The Ugly Truth.
- Rodrick's trick of selling Greg may have been done because it would scare Greg quite a lot, due to the events in The Last Straw.
- This is the second book where the color of the cover bears a resemblance to the story, the first being The Last Straw. The color is yellow, which may be because it's summer and yellow is often associated with summer.
- In the front page, Susan is not in the original look, but wearing a dress and holding a camera and is also slightly taller compared to her other appearances on the front pages.
- This is the only book to not come out in the first 6 months nor November.
References To The Date
In the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the actual date of events isn't usually given, as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is meant to be timeless and could have happened at any time. Here are dates that are mentioned in the book:
- July 4 - Greg gives his account on what happened on his July 4 from the next day.
- August 22 - This date is seen in Frank's planner as the date he will "sell Greg". It turns out to have been a baseball match and the selling Greg was a ruse by Rodrick.