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
Rhythm
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Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present

It’s Birthday Season around our house. The Mom Person had a birthday in September and her sister and brother have birthdays in October. Since the birthdays come so close together, they often celebrate together with one big party. I love birthdays. They are a time for big celebrations and a time for reflection. A time for looking at a life lived and a life yet to come. A time for reflecting on what has been accomplished and on what is waiting to be discovered in the future. The big Family celebration began with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Dallas.

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After the big walk there was fellowship and memories and birthday cake and presents!!!!

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Finding the perfect present is always the challenge of a birthday. Something serious, something silly, something meaningful? The Mom Person is always on the lookout for perfect presents. It becomes a quest.

We recently read a lovely little book about finding the perfect gift.

IMG_3594Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present is a little book by Charlotte Zolotow with pictures by Maurice Sendak. It was originally published in 1962, but our book was published in 1990 by Harper Collins.

This is the story of a little girl who is looking for the perfect birthday gift for her mother and asks Mr Rabbit for help.

I don’t know why she chooses to ask Mr Rabbit for help. It just begins with that — “Mr. Rabbit,” said the little girl, “I want help.”  He’s really not much help at all, but manages to ask questions that spark ideas for the girl. All around colors. The mother likes red, and yellow, and green, and blue. With each color mentioned the girl and the rabbit must think of something that is that color that the mother might like. They talk and wonder and wander through the woods looking for just the right things for Mother. And in the end a very Lovely Present is achieved.

IMG_3596I really like this book. First off, I love Mr Sendak’s artwork. He brings a sense of magic to a story. This story is about kindness and friendship and being thoughtful. Not just anything will do for this little girl’s mother. It has to be something special that the mother will love and appreciate. She trusts her friend, Mr Rabbit, to help her find this special gift. And even though Mr Rabbit really doesn’t help much at all, he does try. And goes right along with her until the gift is ready for presentation. What a good friend he is to the little girl!! I don’t know if they ever have any more adventures together. I hope that they do. Even if Ms Zolotow didn’t write any more stories about them.

You can read more about how this story came to be by clicking HERE.

Ms Zolotow has a fascinating website that you might want to check out HERE.

There is a children’s book award named in her honor – The Charlotte Zolotow Award presented to the author of the best children’s book text published in the US. For more about this award and to see a list of recipients click HERE.

A little birthday song for you from Dolly Parton and Willy Nelson —

I wish you a Happy Day — birthday or not! And whenever your birthday is, I hope it’s full of joyful celebration. And I wish for you the perfect, lovely gift!

Rhythm

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The Sun and The Moon

The Mom Person and The Big Guy With the Treats were gone to California for a long, long time. To visit the Princesses. That’s a good thing for them. Not so good for me. It was a very boring time.

CIMG7820We had some good buddies taking care of everything here. And we got our dinner and our treats and some good pats and a little bit of ball play. But it just isn’t the same without the Mom Person. She is my Sun and my Moon.

But they are home now!!!! And life is good again! It was a full moon when they arrived home. An auspicious sign! IMG_3130

And now even though it’s raining outside, my sun is shining for me! The rain is a good thing too! She has brought it all! The moon, the sun and the rain!

While they were away, I took care of the house. I slept on their bed because it smells like them. I tried to change the sheets before they got home. But those corners had me stymied.

IMG_0267The Mom Person was very appreciative of my efforts though. She said she was sure glad that she didn’t change the sheets before she left!

She brought back some really yummy treats and some new tennis balls and lots of postcards. They had a fine trip.

But let’s get back to the moon. That great big full moon. It’s nice to go walking out under the full moon. The world is bright and you don’t have to worry about stepping on snakes that you can’t see. We read a book called The Moon Jumpers by Janice May Udry and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. I love Mr Sendak. His pictures are so funny and clever. This book has black and white pictures along with 2 page spreads in color. They look about the same to me, but the Mom Person assures me that the color ones are quite lovely.

The Moon Jumpers was published in 1959 by Harper & Row. It’s a very old book, but it can still be found if you look.

IMG_0275It starts out with:
“Summer night is the cool dark grass
And big tired trees
With the moon sailing
On a wind.”

It’s a lovely story of kids going out to play at night when the moon comes out. They sing and dance and do somersaults. They climb a tree and tell ghost stories. They jump and jump, but “nobody ever has touched the moon.” And in the end they go to bed and “dream of tomorrow’s sun.” Just as I dreamed of my sun’s return.

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I’m very happy that everyone is home now. The world is right and the new year will be off to a good start. I hope that all is right in your world. And I will leave you with a little song from the Beatles to brighten your day —

Here Comes the Sun!

And if you are interested in Mr Maurice Sendak here are some interesting stories at NPR. Enjoy! And Happy New Year to you all!!