Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chuck And Danielle

And another sighthound story, this time about a Whippet.

Chuck And Danielle
Peter Dickinson, il. Kees de Kiefte
1996, Delacorte

About fifty yards up the pavement it struck Chuck that there was something wrong with her lead. It didn't have an end. Another fifty yards and it still didn't have an end. This was really frightening. Leads have ends. You hit them when you bolt. That's the system.

Danielle owns a whippet, Chuck, who is terrified of everything, but brave enough to persist in trying again and again to please her owner. This includes braving an agility course, a burglar, and various other deadly threats.

The horse peered at Chuck in a good-gracious-what-have-we-here kind of way, and nosed right forward toward her. Danielle thought she was sure to bolt now, because the horse was absolutely huge, but no, she stayed where she was. Her tail was right between her legs, but it was whipping to and fro beneath her belly, the way it does when she's interested in something but isn't sure if it's allowed. As soon as the horse's head was close enough she stretched out her tongue and licked its nose.

A cheerful book split between Danielle and her mother's fond amusement at their nervous little dog, and Chuck's POV as terrifying, whippet-eating monsters emerge from all corners of the Earth. An ongoing arrangement between Danielle and her mother holds that if Chuck saves the world, Danielle will get a much-coveted but much-denied Big Mac from McDonald's. But can a dog who's terrified of a teddy bear save anyone?

Peter Dickinson
Author's Website here

On the website, Dickinson writes a bit about the dog who inspired Chuck. What he writes about losing her (and two other dogs) just clicked with me: "The loss of a loved human is an immense and complicated network of sorrow. The loss of a dear pet is a narrow, focussed beam of pure grief."

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