Thursday, September 10, 2009

She's My Girl (aka You Can't Take Twenty Dogs On A Date) (1949)

She's My Girl!

Betty Cavanna (as Elizabeth Headley)

1949, Macrae Smith Co.

Jo knelt and took Sherry's muzzle in her hand. His right eye was covered with a milky film, and as she ran her hand along the dog's back to bring him toward her for a closer inspection he suddenly yelped in pain.

17-year-old Josephine 'Jo' Redmond faces a depressing summer in suburban Pennsylvania. Her father's illness has made it neccessary for him to go away to a rest home in the Pocono mountains, resulting in a family financial crisis that's put the kibbosh on her college plans. And she misses her dog, killed recently by a car. Casting about for a money-making venture, Jo decides to start a summer boarding kennel for vacationing neighbors, since her family's oversized backyard still holds the remains of the former owner's kennels. Despite the initial discouragement of her uncle and boyfriend, Jo perseveres and begins coping with a flow of boarders, from a Houdini puppy to an abandoned Beagle. And of course, she manages to win the respect of her mocking boyfriend along the way.

This is one of Cavanna's early books, and it shows. There is some awkwardness in how she manages to provide a picture of her heroine, who looks approvingly at a friend and compares herself:

A much more striking combination than my brown eyes and almost-red hair, Jo thought.

The male disdain for female endeavour and ability is stated much more strongly and unapologetically than in later books, and the heroine is much more forgiving. This could just reflect the facts of the earlier era, but could also reflect a younger version of Cavanna. Jo is irritated by the boyfriend's attitude, but rather readily accepts the idea that men are naturally more able to do manual labor, etc.

Canine Anachronisms

Jo's puppy, Inky, died after running into the road. Both Jo and the local vet seem to feel this is just the risk run by young dogs who haven't "developed enough sense not to dash into the road without looking." The dogs eat canned horsemeat. When one dog is injured on loose wire, Jo charges the owner for the vet bills - though the dog's injuries were her own fault.

Other editions (shown above)

re-titled "You Can't Take 20 Dogs On A Date"

Betty Cavanna, il. Alex Stein (cover)

1977, The Westminster Press


The University of Southern Mississippi de Grummond Collection

George School (mentioned briefly in book)

Martin's Dam Club in Wayne- Photo 1


Suzy Beagle - female Beagle

Roger - fawn Great Dane puppy

Inky - puppy

Mac - Scottish Terrier

Bitsy - fat Cocker Spaniel

Trinket - poodle

Sherry - red Cocker Spaniel

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