Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Visitor (1971)

The Visitor

Gene Smith, il. Ted Lewin

1971, Cowles Book Company

"Good-bye, little fellow," the man said. But he said it so softly that his wife and children could hardly hear him - let alone Sassafras, who was already inside the building.

Sassafras, a six-month-old Irish Setter, is left at a kennel while his family goes on a weeklong trip. But when a car accident kills his master during the trip, the widow decides the pup's return home will be too sharp a reminder to their children. She pays the kennel to keep him indefinitely, leaving the poor dog in eternal limbo. The gentle setter never fogets his beloved Home, but takes pity on the homesick dogs around him, comforting and protecting them.

An incredibly sad story, told from the point-of-view of Sassafras, who understands human speech enough to realize that his owner is dead, speaks with his fellow inmates and retains a memory so strong of his home and people that when he sees the kennel owner clean away old bones

Sassafras stopped chewing on his old bone because he did not want it taken away. It spoke to him of home. Instead he carefully put it to one side where he could always look at it.

A horrendously manipulative tear-jerker. And, horribly, based on a true story of an Irish Setter left at a boarding kennel for 13 years. The woman as a shallow monster who leaves the dog in limbo may have been completely true to life, but it stirs up ugly echoes of those old-school dog tales where men are the only gender truly fit for the loyalty and faith of a canine companion, because women are too concerned with clean floors.

Other books

The Hayburners

The Winner - juvenile horse novel (1970)


When The Cheering Stopped (bio of Woodrow Wilson)

Still Quiet On The Western Front: Fifty Years Later

The Shattered Dream: Herbert Hoover In The Great Depression

Maximilian And Carlotta (bio)

Lee and Grant (bio)
High Crimes & Misdemeanors: The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

American Gothic: The Story of America's Legendary Theatrical Family

The Dark Summer

The Police Gazette (ed., with Jayne Barry Smith)

The Champion (horse)


  1. thank you for the wonderful description and comment on the book. It is one of my favorites.

  2. Thank you for this. I have been searching for this book for years. It is one of the most memorable (and sad) books from my childhood and I have been searching for the title for years.