Man's best friend
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
August 3, 2019
In my opinion, dogs absolutely are man’s best friend, but I’m not sure that we humans deserve them. Happily, many good humans recognize these conflicting beliefs and try their hardest to earn worthiness by writing excellent books portraying dogs’ most desirable and commendable traits.
On Dec. 17, 1938 in the Saturday Evening Post, a short story was published introducing the world to a collie named Lassie. By 1940, author Eric Knight had written Lassie’s full novel and it was published as “Lassie Come-Home.” The heartwarming and heart wrenching story of a boy, his family and their dog narrates the heartbreaking trials they go through as the father must sell Lassie to take care of his family. There is much anguish and many tears, by both the family and the readers. But Lassie keeps coming home. Three times!
There is a reason there is a hyphen between Come and Home in the book’s title. A Come-Home dog was a term used toward people who raised dogs to return home after they were sold, so that the owner could sell the dog over and over again. I know ... quite dishonest. But though the family was accused of training a Come-Home dog, that was truly not the case. Which was proven after the fourth and final sale. Lassie was sold and transported to the furthest most remote part of Scotland. Yet, love prevailed (which is a spoiler but still leaves the details to be experienced by the reader of this heartwarming and epic adventure).
And epic is truly the best description of such a book as “Lassie Come-Home” with the continuance of Lassie’s story through wise business acumen skills of owner and trainer Rudd Weatherwax concerning his collie named Pal. “Lassie Come-Home” became a beloved and big screen hit in 1943 with Pal, and child actors Roddy McDowall and Elizabeth Taylor. After the movie’s success, a series of television shows followed. Jeff’s Collie premiered in 1954 and the show “Lassie” took over in 1957, running seven more years. Families loved watching Lassie rescuing children and adults and saving the day on a weekly basis. Lassie was embraced by human hearts of all ages.
Perhaps you didn’t read the book “The Art of Running in the Rain” when it came out in 2008. The movie is debuting early August. Prepare yourselves for more canine love and heartbreak. Both the book and the movie is narrated in the voice of the dog Enzo. He believes a Mongolian legend (learned from watching a television documentary) that a dog who works hard and prepares in this life can be reincarnated in its next life as a human. Enzo lives a life trying to make sense of all things he sees and experiences, the good things and the bad and all that is in-between, to deserve to be elevated to human. Honestly, I think we would do better to live our lives in understanding dogs and hoping to be worthy to be one in a next life. What do you think?
If this deep contemplation is too much for you mid-summer and in this heat, perhaps you would just enjoy relaxing and reading the newer series of “Fenway and Hattie.” This book allows you to take some time laughing at silly antics and dealing with questions of friendship, moving and adapting to change, with a good bit of humor added in the mix. This series of four books by Victoria J. Coe is also written in the voice and viewpoint of a dog. They feature Fenway, who happens to be a very active Russell Terrier, with Hattie being Fenway’s short human best friend. They share the joys and worries of moving from the city to the suburbs, finding new parks and friends and making home wherever you live.
Providing satisfying and entertaining reading for 8 to 12 year olds, much enjoyment can also be gained from these books by adults reading to both younger children and to themselves. We could all be dogs in training, becoming our best selves by heeding the examples of our canine fur-friends. Perhaps books like “Fenway and Hattie” are actually guidelines and instructions!
*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.