Sounder, the great coon dog, can howl louder than any dog in the whole countryside. He is faithful and strong. When his master is caught stealing a ham to feed his starving family and is taken away to jail, Sounder is shot at by the sheriff's men. Sounder crawls off into the night, perhaps to die. No one knows how long the father will be gone or where he will be sent. The boy who loves them both must learn to deal with their absense and patiently wait their return. No one comes back from this experience the same.