10-year-old Opal Buloni has just moved to the small town of Naomi, Florida with her father, a preacher. While in the Winn-Dixie supermarket that summer, she encounters a scruffy dog that is wreaking havoc. She claims that it is hers, and names it Winn-Dixie. She discovers that Winn-Dixie becomes friends with everyone he encounters, and she makes some new friends in the process. She also rekindles the relationship with her father, and learns ten things about her mother who abandoned them seven years ago. Opal once describes the preacher as an old turtle, always sticking his head into his turtle shell and never wanting to come out into the real world, most likely because of how sad he is about her mother, whom he is still in love with. One of the people Opal meets is Miss Franny Block, a kind and somewhat eccentric elder librarian, who runs the Herman W. Block Memorial Library and tells her many great stories, including one involving a bear. Opal also meets Gloria Dump, a blind recovering alcoholic with a mistake tree in her backyard that has beer bottles hanging from it, which she describes as the ghosts of all the things she has done wrong. One day during the summer, fed up with Winn-Dixie, the landlord of the Bulonis' trailer park, Mr. Alfred, orders the preacher to get rid of the dog. The preacher calls the pound to take Winn-Dixie away. Opal begs her father in tears not to let them take Winn-Dixie. Unable to see his daughter this upset, the preacher tells the people from the pound to return Winn-Dixie, claiming that he is not the dog he called about.