Beautiful Joe is a real dog, and "Beautiful Joe" is his real name. He belonged during the first part of his life to a cruel master, who mutilated him in the manner described in the story. He was rescued from him, and is now living in a happy home with pleasant surroundings, and enjoys a wide local celebrity.
The character of Laura is drawn from life, and to the smallest detail is truthfully depicted. The Morris family has its counterparts in real life, and nearly all of the incidents of the story are founded on fact. (Summary by Marshall Saunders)