“I am because my little dog knows me.” Gertrude Stein Welcome to my Blog…To learn more, please see ABOUT.
The other day, a Facebook friend sent me a message asking me if I’d ever read the book Beautiful Joe. She said that the book reminded her of me. I have to admit, I’d never even heard of it. Discovering that it was available as a free Kindle book, I made it the first download on my new device. Beautiful Joe was written in 1893 by Marshall Saunders as an entry for a Humane Education Society writing contest. It is a fictionalized autobiography of a “cur” name Beautiful Joe, told from the dog’s point of view. The real story took place in Ontario, but the author “relocated” it to a town in Maine.
At its heart, a little terrier-mix is rescued from the hands of a brutal dairy farmer and becomes part of the menagerie of an animal-loving family. Turns out author, “Marshall,” was actually a woman named Margaret who thought she had a better chance of winning the writing contest using a man’s name. Not only did she win, but her novel was the first Canadian book to sell over a million copies, going on to sell millions around the world.
I am only half-way through, but the story is so moving and well-done. But two things strike me most. How the lessons from our animals can make us, especially young people, more sensitive and caring and that things haven’t really changed that much since 1893. One of the heroes of the story, a young woman named, Laura, is a saint to all animals. She sees to it that the brutal dairy farmer is punished by law, while caring for the unfortunate animals that have suffered at the hand of bad humans, something I see a lot of people doing today.
Back in the 1940s, National Dog Week Founder, Will Judy, knew how important animals were for the development of care-taking behavior in the young. He wrote, “Caring for animals, which depend knowingly upon humans, pulls a child or an adult out of his selfishness and away from his own narrow cell.” This summarizes the true message behind Beautiful Joe.
Because I teach, and write, I think my Facebook friend saw similarities between Margaret Saunders and me, something that is very flattering. However, I will say “write” here, I see myself more as a reporter of events, someone trying to give the “quiet heroes” a place where they can reach out to others. They don’t have a glossy magazine, or a popular TV or splashy Radio Show. But these people are the real deal, on the front line of meaningful reform and new ideas. And most of the time, by the way, not only are they not making any money, but using their own funds to make things work. If you scroll back in the “Archives” you’ll see what I mean.
The other week, I set up a Facebook Page for the much maligned National Dog Week. I’ve been told that it is no longer relevant, dismissed as old-school. As a history and dog-lover, I see this as somewhat ignorant and sad. I was even told by someone that its existence interferes with her more contemporary “holiday,” for dogs. Excuse us. For the record, I offered to help with the promotion of this “modern event,” something most of the people I know have never heard of (it’s not too late, I do not hold grudges). If it’s for the dogs, there can be no competition; I believe we should help each other. National Dog Week was started and championed by two men who served as Captains in the United States Army. I think they would be truly disappointed to hear about this nonsense.
At one time, National Dog Week was so popular that over 200 cities, including New York, went over the top to truly honor American dogs. The week had slogans and posters with themes like “A GOOD HOME FOR EVERY DOG…” and celebrity spokespersons. I thank those who have gone over and LIKED thIS page. http://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974. This week’s profile picture features, Jazz, rescue dog of animal advocate Willie Wonka. I have written a book about the evolution of National Dog Week, however, for a few reasons, I can’t discuss it here. You can go to my recent interview with Mashal Zeringue http://coffeecanine.blogspot.com/2011/06/lisa-begin-kruysman-hooper.html to learn about my newest writing project.
Yesterday, I received an e-mail from an author about the recent sale of his book to a publisher. We happen to be represented by the same Literary Agent. I asked him about his writing “path.” It turns out that he is 84 years old and has had three agents. He started writing using an old Underwood typewriter and wrote every single day of the year, even if it was just one page a day. He actually has three other books written and ready to go. I congratulate him on his success and as he said to me, “Never give up.” I thank him for this uplifting story…It is never too late to achieve what you’ve set out to do.
In closing, I would like to thank all of you who do so much, in the “real” world and on-line, for animals and people. I thank you for taking the time to visit this blog, and for commenting here, in e-mails and on my Facebook page. It really does mean the “dog-word” to me and it might even do some good. I sure hope so.