Saturday, July 25, 2009

Handy Of The Triple S (1949)

Handy Of The Triple S
Genevieve Torrey Eames, il. Paul Brown
1949, Julian Messner, Inc.

...there was something about that head - he groped around in his mind for the right word. Anyhow, it was something special; something the dogs around Solito didn't have. A collie judge, looking at the clean, straight line of that head, would have called it "quality,"

Sandy Ferguson is determined to prove that the family's new collie puppy will be a good ranch dog, but his father thinks the pup, from his sister's Eastern show kennel, will never be more than a pretty face. Sandy's mother, whose childhood dog was an intelligent and capable show collie, secretly sides with her son, but Sam Ferguson thinks the animal's name - Handsome - says it all.

He's a show dog and they can't take it. They aren't bred for rugged living and hard work. Your Aunt Frances has been raising show-type collies for so long she doesn't know what the old-fashioned kind looks like. Probably they don't have 'em in the East anymore.

Handy is treated kindly by Sam, befriended by Sandy and quite frankly adored by little sister Susie. It's while caring for Susie that Handy first shows signs of having more than just looks. The toddler slips out of the fenced yard and vanishes; when she reappears, it's with Handy patiently leading the way.

Handy paid no attention to Susie until he had put about fifteen feet between himself and the child. Then he sat down and waited for her. Again she almost caught up with him and again he moved on, keeping always just out of reach.

Sandy is heartbroken when Handy himself disappears, snatched by a Basque shepherd on his way to the summer grazing. When Sandy next meets his dog, Handy is thrilled - but has a new, adult responsibility. It's up to Sandy and his pal Frank to find a way to get the proud young herding dog away from his flock and back to the Triple S.

Animals - dogs
Handsome aka Handy - sable and white male Rough Collie
Ben - mixed breed ranch dog (deceased)
Rico - black mix herding dog

Animals - equines
Charlie - elderly retired horse
Trail Breaker - Quarter Horse stallion
Blazes - roping horse
Jennie - female burro (aka donkey)

Other books (horses)
Pat Rides The Trail 1946 il. Dan Noonan
A Horse To Remember 1947 il. Paul Brown
Ghost Town Cowboy 1951 il. Paul Brown
The Good Luck Colt 1953 il. Paul Brown
Flying Roundup 1957 il. Lorence F. Bjorklund

Thursday, July 23, 2009

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talks with Michael Vick - is Vick back in pro football?

The NFL appears to be seriously considering letting Michael Vick back into the fold. It's such a strange idea. The whole debate over Vick has been such a strange idea. Cries of racism from people who claim that anyone who criticizes Vick is a sheltered middle-class suburbanite who doesn't 'get' the culture of dog-fighting. Yawns of 'it's just a dog' from people who think we should be more worried about the rapists, drunk drivers and killers who have skated through pro sports in the past. The serenely logical point out that Vick's sentence was mostly due to gambling, not to animal abuse. And some oddly specific people complain that Vick went to prison while Bush and Cheney are free.

None of which really gets to the heart of the matter. Dog-fighting is illegal in large part because it is blatant, violent animal cruelty. The gambling - ie, the money - makes it big-time, and gives enforcement the teeth so often lacking in other animal cruelty cases. But it would never be legal in our era, even if there was no money involved. It's just too vicious. Unlike other sports or activities involving animals, dog-fighting is by definition the maiming or killing of dogs. The activity doesn't exist unless dogs are being hurt and killed. Horse racing has taken some criticism in recent years for the deaths of horses - Eight Belles, Barbaro - but it does not exist expressly to create pain.

The things Vick directly participated in with his dogs and kennel, and the things he contributed to indirectly, were extremely cruel, were done over a long period of time, and were done when he was an intelligent adult with plentiful resources. The NFL should not take him back. And yes, it's unfair. He's a superb talent at the sport, and people seem to think sports should be pure. But they're not, because humans are not. Sport is unfair. Talented athletes blow their chances all the time. Vicks blew his. And because he blew his late, he still walks away with a lot of money and a lot of adulation from people who think he was wronged by a flawed system. Is it fair to compare a blown knee, a bad season, etc., with a felony? Is it fair to say that a man who's done his time should lose his profession? No. But it's still the right thing to do. Vick may be redeemed; he may be a new man. But how does that equal having a right to step back into an elite position of respect and financial gain? He's paid, with years of his life, for the negative effect his illegal actions had on the society; his return to the NFL would have a new negative effect, begging the question - what was the point?

Friday, July 3, 2009


Beverly Cleary, il. Louis Darling
1964, Morrow Junior Books

Ribsy began to run. He ran as fast as he could, dodging in and out among the acres of parked cars in the direction from which he thought he had come. He could find no landmarks. All the white stripes on the asphalt were exactly alike, and all the cars looked pretty much the same to Ribsy. No matter which way he ran there were more cars and more white lines. He was confused, bewildered, and frightened. He was also sopping wet.

Ribsy gets his own book chronicling his adventures when he becomes lost on a shopping trip with the Huggins family. The friendly mutt's amiable nature is clear as he's adopted by a family of aggressive children, dressed up by a doting old lady, and becomes a mascot for a second-grade classroom.

But he never stops longing for Henry.

"Go home," repeated the principal. After one more sad backward glance, Ribsy started walking. He wanted to obey the man. He wanted to go home, but he did not know where home was, and there was no way he could make the man understand.

Another simple, well-written book for young readers. Poor Ribsy's plight is lightened by cheerful adventures with kind people, and there is, of course, a happy ending.

Other books about Henry
Henry And Beezus
Henry And The Clubhouse
Henry And The Paper Route

Other dog books by Cleary
Two Dog Biscuits - picture book

About the Author
Beverly Bunn was born in McMinnville, Oregon. She lived on a farm in Yamhill as a small child, moving to Portland for school. In 1934 she went to college in California. She graduated from U.C. Berkeley, and studied at the University of Washington, Seattle to be a librarian. She was a librarian in Yakima, Washington, until her marriage to Clarence Cleary. She wrote two autobiographies, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet. She has had a school named after her, and her famous characters are featured in a mural at a Washington library branch, and as statues in a park in Oregon.

Author Website
The Beverly Cleary School

The statues (including one of Ribsy) at Grant Park in Portland, OR

Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden
The real Klickitat Street

Newer, paperback edition: