Some Swell Pup

As you may know already, we have a new pup in our house. A Guide Dog Puppy who will grow up to be “eyes” for some lucky blind person. Her name is Electra and I am in charge of training. (With some help from the Mom Person and my buddy, Walker.)

Training a puppy is not an easy task! Ms Electra is a Mini-Godzilla! Chewing and eating everything in her path! What’s a good dog to do?!

IMG_5174The Mom Person to the rescue! She pulled a book off of our shelf that is a story about puppy training. And written by none other than Mr Maurice Sendak and his dog training buddy, Mr Matthew Margolis.

IMG_5376The book is titled SOME SWELL PUP or Are You Sure You Want a Dog?

written by Maurice Sendak and Matthew Margolis
illustrated by Maurice Sendak
published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1976

Suitable for K and up

Theme – puppy training, being kind to animals, the power of love

IMG_5378I think that this would be considered a graphic novel. It’s done in comic book style. It begins with a brother and sister pining for a dog of their own. And then a pup is left on their doorstep. They are thrilled! Until the puppy proves to be a Mini-Godzilla! Chewing and eating everything in its path! They get angry at the pup and decide it needs to go off to school. The pup is soon returned to them with a note saying the pup is too young to train and the school is now a wreck!

What are two kids supposed to do now?! Well, a stranger comes along and tries to show them that what the pup needs is lots of love. That everything it has been doing is normal puppy stuff. The kids continue to argue with each other (as siblings are wont to do) but soon realize that talking kindly and showing love to the pup is the right thing to do.

The sub-heading of this book “Are You Sure You Want a Dog?” is a fitting one. This is a tale of a Godzilla pup. But it is a realistic view of what it is like to have a puppy in the house. It is a BIG responsibility! They chew things, they pee and poop, they jump, they whine and bark. Having a new puppy is not just fun and games!

This is not really a “training book.” It is a Maurice Sendak take on a training book. It is a very old book and hence has very old ideas. One thing that is a bit befuddling is that it asserts that the pup is too young to train and you should wait until a pup is 12 weeks old. That’s just crazy!! Training needs to start at day ONE!!! The sooner the better. The book does show that shouting and hitting and ignoring are NOT the ways to deal with a young pup. A pup needs lots of love and understanding. And that’s the main thing about pup training. Love and patience and understanding.

The story could also be seen as a story about getting along with other PEOPLE in the big world. The book is actually a good lesson in how to treat ANYBODY. Not just pups. Be kind and gentle. Always. Show some love and it will be returned to you. A BIG lesson to learn!

I am trying to be patient and understanding with my Godzilla pup. It’s not always easy. But I can already see some improvement in her understanding of household rules. She is learning to be more polite. It’s not easy for her either. She is just a pup after all.

IMG_5177There are some good pup training books out there for kids.
Dog Training for Kids by Carol Lea Benjamin
See Spot Sit by Carol Lea Benjamin
My Dog! A Kids’ Guide to Keeping a Happy & Healthy Pet by Michael J. Rosen

Martha Stewart has instructions for making some cute origami animals from napkins.
Southeastern Guide Dogs likes to get donations of DIY paracord puppy collars. They provide instructions HERE.
HERE are instructions for making a great fleece tug toy for your dog. We LOVE these toys! And our detention boys sometimes make a bunch of these to give to the local animal shelter.

Now you might want to visit Susanna Hill’s Blog for a list of more PERFECT PICTURE BOOKS and fine resources to go with!

And here is a little training video with a 5 week old pup!

I wish you success and love in all your endeavors!
Your friend in training mode
Copy of img311

36 thoughts on “Some Swell Pup

  1. What a fun story for kids. I like that it is in comic book form — a book for a little older kids. Didn’t realize Sendak wrote books like this one. Must be a winner. You sure have patience with Electra. She is full of so much energy and is probably your tag along! You’ll train her well!

    • That Mr Sendak was quite the innovator. A uniquely creative individual for sure! Electra is an electric charge on four legs. She has become quite the tag a long.And I’m actually starting to enjoy her company.

  2. I LUV how a permutation of the ABC song plays in the background of the puppy training video. I bet Rhythm is a better puppy trainer than Sendak. 🙂

  3. Rhythm, Electra is so lucky to have you and the mom-person to help her and especially showing her helpful picture books like this. There are lots of dogs on this weeks PPBF, which will please you, I am sure.

    • She has not yet developed an appreciation for the written word. She seems to think that books are tasty though. I believe that taste was my first introduction into the land of books so I’m trying to be patient with her. She’ll learn.

  4. Rhythm – bless you for your patience and willingness to train a special puppy. My daughter has a 5 mo old black lab mix that they bring over here to play with our choc lab. They usually want to tire her out – but the one that gets tired is our dog. So far she’s eaten a baseball cap, 2 left shoes, some Sesame St. toy characters, a stick of butter, and the corner of a door. This books sounds like it needs to be on our shelf–will definitely look for it.

  5. Electra might be a mini-godzilla but she sure is cute! And you are very cute and wonderful in every way, Rhythm, I am not playing favorites or ignoring you! 🙂 This book looks like a terrific one for kids. It is so true that many people (not just kids!) do not understand how much work a puppy is, and that they have a lot to learn and you must be kind and understanding while they are trying to figure out what you expect from them. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  6. Hehee. You must be a saint. I remember when the house dog here (sadly now journeyed onward to the afterlife) was joined by a stray Great-Dane cross puppy (and current house dog)…the poor love would have her jowls bitten, be slobbered on, and be forced to engage in vigorous puppy-wrestling, only to wake stiff jointed the next morning to do it all again. I hope you have a good doggy massage therapist on hand to tend your muscle aches.

    • Boy, I can sure sympathize with your used to be house dog. My Mom Person does a nice massage every evening and i go see the magical Dr Bruton once a month. I’m pretty well taken care of I think! Thanks for the concern!

  7. Very cute book, and you both look so cute too. I taught my dog when he was just a baby… I believe in teaching starts as soon as possible. Sorry I took so long commenting, I got caught up in all the dog training videos…lol.

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