Animals in Literature: The Seagull…um…Sequel

Back in 2011, I wrote a blog post about animals in literature for a Web site with the same initials as Happy Pets. The novels I mentioned as having memorable creature characters included The Call of the Wild, White Fang, Lad: A Dog, The Incredible Journey, and many others.

But that was four years ago, and I’ve read many novels since then that included animals (often dogs) as major or minor characters. Also, there were books I read before 2011 not mentioned in that previous post. So this column will be a Part Two of sorts to that old piece on the Web site with the same initials as Hairy Protagonists. (Okay, I’ll name the site — Huffington Post.)

As I wrote back then, animals can bring a lot of warmth to books — and their relationships with human characters help flesh out the personalities of the critters as well as the people. Heck, if a human character loves animals, there’s an excellent chance she or he is a good person! For instance, the very likable Sookie allows 11 pets — including an alligator! — to live in her house in Fannie Flagg’s poignant The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, and is very dedicated to feeding the birds on her property.

Fictional animals can also remind millions of pet lovers of their own appealing animal buddies.

Of course, things are not all positive when it comes to creatures in author canons. Some are not very lovable and may in fact be “villains” — as in Peter Benchley’s Jaws. And if tragedy befalls an animal in fiction, it’s very painful to read.

I thought of revisiting this topic while recently reading Rilla of Ingleside, one of L.M. Montgomery’s seven sequels to Anne of Green Gables. In the sequel, Anne has a minor role while the star turn goes to her daughter Rilla as the teen is forced to grow up fast during what later became known as World War I. But a character leaping off the page almost as much as Rilla Blythe is the canine “Dog Monday” — who, when Rilla’s brother Jem boards a train to go to war, loyally and heartbreakingly refuses to leave the station for years while waiting to see if Jem will return.

Another excellent novel featuring a dog in a secondary role is Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits — in which Clara’s huge canine Barrabas eats like crazy, knocks over things, and ends up in a scenario that reveals the lack of common sense possessed by Clara’s brutish husband Esteban.

There’s also Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s The Leopard. The book draws to a close with an unforgettable symbolic scene involving long-deceased canine Bendico.

Speaking of Italian literature, the lovable dog Bella always accompanies the lonely, precocious boy Giuseppe in Elsa Morante’s World War II novel History.

In American literature, Hector the hunting dog is a constant companion to Natty Bumppo in some of the five novels that comprise James Fenimore Cooper’s “Leatherstocking” series — which includes The Last of the Mohicans.

A dog tragically dies of thirst and hunger in a locked house when his owner is murdered in Lee Child’s Bad Luck and Trouble. When Jack Reacher joins three former military police colleagues to plot revenge for that and various other killings, the thought of the poor dog is one of the things that drives him.

The dog and cat in Rita Mae Brown’s mysteries (such as Wish You Were Here) help their person (Mary “Harry” Haristeen) do amateur detective work. Animals definitely have human qualities in some novels!

Creatures in literature of course aren’t just dogs and cats. For instance, there is the horse who assists mineworkers in Emile Zola’s Germinal, and the experimented-on mouse who is so crucial to what happens in Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon. Also, we can’t forget the water denizens in novels such as Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and the aforementioned Jaws.

Which animals do you remember most in literature, whether in major or minor roles?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else.)

A note: I was interviewed by a local filmmaker on July 29. I wasn’t asked about this literature blog, but hopefully you’ll still find the eight-minute-or-so video interesting. 🙂

Another note: I’ll be skipping my Aug. 9 column for the usual summer reasons, but will be back Aug. 16. And while I won’t be on the computer as much as usual between Aug. 7 and Aug. 15, I’ll reply to comments when I can!

I’m writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at dastor@earthlink.net to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

132 thoughts on “Animals in Literature: The Seagull…um…Sequel

  1. I loved Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, as a child, still do. My grandson introduced me to Michael Morpurgo and I was hooked. His book, War Horse being my favourite. I also loved An Elephant in the Garden, which he set in Dresden in 1945.

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    • Thank you, Jean, for your comment and for mentioning those memorable books with animal characters!

      Somehow I’ve never read “Black Beauty,” and I will try to get to that classic in the next few months.

      “War Horse” was definitely high profile a few years ago, with, as you know, theatrical and movie adaptations!

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  2. This may or may not be off subject. Certainly the book was not real by any means, but I’m reminded of the movie “Funny Farm” with Chevy Chase. Re: his wife’s book about a squirrel getting published while Chase is receiving rejection after rejection for his. Guess WC Field’s was right concerning his observation re: working with animals or children, they’ll upstage you every time.

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    • I’ve never seen “Funny Farm,” Susi, but we all recognize that scenario of not-so-deep books (about animals, celebrities, and various other topics) often having a better chance of getting published than more “serious” work. I imagine the movie played that for laughs, but it’s definitely frustrating for certain authors!

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  3. Dave ” Saving Simon” by Jon Katz…the book bring tears to the eyes…of how an abused donkey then rescued by Katz and family is a healing story could mend a broken heart.
    It is through Simon, a donkey rescued from extreme neglect, that Katz “discovered the power of healing and of selflessness. In this book I learned against popular belief that donkeys are one of the smartest animals in the planet.

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    • Good morning, bebe, and thanks for the link! I hadn’t read this; I’ve been away, and not reading as many articles as usual. 🙂 Really interesting story, and certainly a great idea for a book. (And Truman Capote was a total jerk not to credit Harper Lee more for her help with “In Cold Blood.”)

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      • Just an observation here. Most writers believe that Capote helped Harper Lee with TKAM, and Harper Lee helped him with ICB. It was mutual collaboration between childhood friends. Consequently, they did not give each other credit for it. Capote never got over his novel not winning a Pulitzer Prize, though Lee’s book did. This whole business may have been the reason behind the rift between them. It has, indeed, been a source of controversy for years re: who wrote what in the literary community. In a recent biography of HL, “The Mockingbird Next Door,” HL’s explanation re: why she never wrote another novel is the fact that she had already won the Pulitzer Prize, so why bother. Of some interest is the fact that HL never spoke publicly re: her writing, that she wanted to maintain this ultra reclusive artist persona. One wonders if she was afraid her voice would betray her since writers often speak in the same manner which they write. Capote and Lee had such a significant friendship, from childhood to adult years, I’m certain they shared a great many secrets, possibly some more dark than we can ever imagine.

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        • VERY interesting, thought-provoking, eloquent comment, Anonymous. Thank you!

          I guess it’s not impossible that Truman Capote helped with “To Kill a Mockingbird” in a significant way, but I’ve read “TKAM” and some of Capote’s work, and his writing voice strikes me as quite different than Harper Lee’s writing voice.

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  4. OK, this is my last and final attempt to post this comment (I’ve been trying for two days to do so all weekend but apparently my new tablet is even worse than my old one when it comes to typing and sending a comment)! I was perusing the HP yesterday and there was a headline that “The Yearling” was the first (or perhaps only) YA novel to win the Pulitzer Prize, which I felt worthy of mention. I know another commenter (lulabelle) mentioned the author, but not this specific book. I think this merits another reading of this novel.

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    • This attempt made it, Kat Lib! 🙂 Sorry about your tablet troubles.

      I didn’t realize “The Yearling” was the first and perhaps only YA novel to win the Pulitzer. Great piece of information! And very relevant to this topic.

      There are certainly some Pulitzer outliers, including the rare occurrence of short-story collections winning that prize (Jhumpa Lahiri, John Cheever, and perhaps a small number of others).

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  5. I will cease writing on the week’s the topic with this addition:

    The Life and Times of the Tomcat Muir, by ETA Hoffmann–

    A tomcat teaches himself to write after his master leaves books around too long for him to resist reading– another skill, self-taught. Inevitably, given the immensity of his self-regard,he sets himself the task of autobiography. Sadly, a printer’s error causes the pages of his manuscript to mixed up with those of a book concerning the composer Johannes Kreisler. The resulting mash-up is the book as titled above.

    A fascinating and utterly original work (1820-22), which ran to 3 volumes before the project was abandoned by Hoffmann, who was unable to address himself to the task after the inspiration for the book, his own tomcat, also named Muir, died.

    Hoffmann’s fabulous tale, The Golden Flower Pot, features singing snakes who charm its protagonist, the snakes but a magical manifestation of his employer’s daughters.

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    • Thanks, jhNY! I really MUST read ETA Hoffmann at some point; he has been on my list a while (based on your enthusiastic recommendation, of course. 🙂 ). Both animal-related works you mentioned sound absolutely fascinating.

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  6. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories contain quite a few animals, among them: the geese in The Blue Carbuncle, the snake in The Speckled Band, the race horse in Silver Blaze, and of course, the big dog in that Baskerville thingy.

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    • Great observation about Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes work — an observation worthy of Sherlock himself. 🙂

      Then of course there were those dinosaurs in Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World”…

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  7. My mother grew up in a very obscure area, at least when she was a girl: the Eastern Shore of VA. Way back then, the only easy way to the Shore was by way of ferry. She knew, as did everybody resident, the Beebe family that raised up Misty of Chincoteague, pony subject of a book by the same name, later a movie. On a visit, my sister and I met Misty, older by then, and a few other ponies in their stable. Or it’s even possible I met the Misty that starred in the movie— it’s been a while. I do remember petting a pony named Misty at the Beebe’s place, anyway.

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  8. Ihave read mentions of “Black Beauty” and “Old Yeller”, but so far, no “Rascal”, a book about a boy at childhood’s end, and his pet raccoon, set in the early years of the last century. We read it, the pack of us, in 6th grade, and as I recall, it went down rather well with all.

    I can also recall the name of a song mentioned therein, “I Picked a Lemon in the Garden of Love Where They Say Only Peaches Grow”, a county fair scene, and that the novel’s ending was a bit bittersweet.

    But that’s the lot of what I’ve retained.

    Anybody else on the blog ever read “Rascal”? I know I have, but I’d like to know more about it….

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  9. Animals in Literature:

    My memory is but a husk of its former self, but wandering through its vast emptiness, I seem to recall having mentioned these two works- each a member of what must be a special-case category (dog as man, or man as dog)–on this very blog and not so long ago:

    Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov– a beaten stray, at death’s door, is rescued by a doctor, and by means of radical medical procedures involving glands, made into a human, or someone nearly so. He gets a job as a purger of cats, and is good at his work. However, his burgeoning political consciousness, an outgrowth of his reading Engels, causes him to denounce his savior as a Menshevik before a police committee, and commit other more dog-like infamies involving a girl. The doctor reverses his work, and at story’s end our dog is again but a dog.

    A Dog’s head byJean Dutourd– here too, a character reckons with the challenge of a dual nature, but eventually marries a woman who is certain her love will change him into Price Charming. In short order, her life goes to the dogs.

    Hope you will forgive me mentioning these two strange pieces of fiction twice.

    Then there’s The Island of Doctor Moreau….

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    • VERY offbeat “dog books,” jhNY. Love it! “Heart of the Dog” sounds fascinating, and “The Island of Doctor Moreau” is of course extremely unsettling. Not all animal literature is warm and fuzzy, and can be quite metaphorical rather than literal. Heck, Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” is animal lit in a way. 🙂

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  10. I’m sure that in your writing for that other place whose first initials are the same as those for House Pets, he got the mention, likely first of all.

    The other day in Riverside Park, I heard someone shout “Pilot!”, and turned around to see a large woman admonishing a chihuahua who had dragged a drippy ice cream wrapper out of the trash. As a Jane Eyre reader, I expected to see someone larger up to something a wee bit more noble.

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    • SO funny, jhNY!

      Pilot was quite a dog in “Jane Eyre,” and, as you know, part of that fateful scene when Jane and Rochester met.

      I checked my 2011 post, and it seems I didn’t include Pilot. So thanks for mentioning that canonical canine here!

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  11. “Lost Memory of Skin,” by Russell Banks is a difficult book to read, Mr. Banks bravely talked about people who are despised by humans justifiably perhaps. He tries to find humanity of those who are outcasts for their horrendous crimes and tries to find what contributed to those.

    “Kid” an young man so lost and lonely abandoned by his father, neglected by his mother had no friends, all he had was a giant pet Iguana he named Iggy.

    Gut wrenching story, Kid became a sex offender with a tracking devise when he responded to someone on online chat posing to be 18..ended up to be a minor was arrested even before he walked into the house.

    It is a non judgmental approach by Banks as he narrates the real culprit a pedophile known as the professor , married with children but managed to lead a disgusting secret life.

    In the end Kid meets a man who influenced Kid who has to save Kid from himself.

    .

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  12. Another topical blog entry Dave as animals in the news are currently unavoidable . I’m referring to the late Cecil the Lion of course and the planet’s most hated ( as well he should be) dentist. As for literature, Watership Down by Richard Adams , the epic quest of a group of rabbits to find a new home and way of life is probably in my top five of books reread for the pure pleasure of it. The tale of Hazel, Bigwig , Fiver , Strawberry et al never gets old or fails to charm. The many chapter epigraphs are fantastic the writing is unobtrusively perfect and the story has everything ,romance, revolt , travel, mystic visions, chase scenes, epic battles , clever inventions, tales and myths within tales and myth and even a working class type yet heroic seagull named Kehaar. It’s a novel I’ve recommended to readers from the ages of 10 to 60 and as best I can tell it’s never disappointed .

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    • Dang, Donny — I could have tied my column more to the news, and didn’t think of that despite having read a lot about Cecil. I’m glad you mentioned that awful killing, and I agree that the dentist is totally deserving of all the hate he’s getting. He’s a moral lowlife.

      “Watership Down” is a great mention — a VERY memorable book. I’ve only read it once, but your superb description and thoughts about it make me want to read it again. Thanks!

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  13. Children’s literature is especially ripe for animal characters: Winnie the Poo, The Jungle Book, Charlotte’s Web, and the most recent Harry Potter novels where animals are integral to the story. I have gone over Life of Pi in class, the short story Shooting an Elephant by Orwell, and many Hemingway novels involved in fishing and hunting, as previously mentioned. And, I am sure many more will come to mind: especially the novel Zoo, by Patterson, where animals become cognizant of their life on Earth and decide to become the dominant species.

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    • VERY true about children’s books, Eric — and about books for somewhat older youth.

      I didn’t mention “Harry Potter” in this column because I had discussed it in the 2011 one, but animals are indeed a huge part of that seven-novel series. The messenger owls, Fluffy the three-headed dog, Sirius Black as a dog, Mrs. Norris the cat (named after the character in Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park”), and more!

      That “Zoo” book by James Patterson sounds fascinating.

      Thanks for the great comment!

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  14. First pooch that came to mind would be Toto, ” Wizard of Oz.” Also, Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charlie.” “Marley and Me” is another.

    I just read this months issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Excellent story on Queen Elizabeth and her love of the Welsh Corgi. She, nicknamed Lillbet in her youth first got a corgi in 1933. She has had various packs through selected breeding since,down now to just two. Story said these dogs do not know she is the queen as her other loyal subjects,they are her family. Its heart warming to read. Apparently as she nears 90,she keeps just two called Holly and Willow,14th generation. She doesn’t want puppies anymore, doesn’t want to leave any young dog behind.

    Also, the James Harriot series “All Creatures Great and Small” and others,speaking of England,about veterinarians in the Yorkshire Dales if I remember the rural area.

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    • Three memorable animals (one fictional, two real) in your first paragraph. Thanks, Michele!

      I didn’t know that about Queen Elizabeth! Great that she’s such a dog lover. (As an aside, I recently saw the silly but funny “Minions” movie, and a cartoon Queen Elizabeth has a supporting role in that film. 🙂 )

      Would love to read “All Creatures Great and Small” one of these days. Thanks for mentioning it!

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      • Dave, I think you should read the James Herriot books, starting with the first one in the series. I have read the entire series at least twice, and it would appeal to any animal lover, with so much humor, that some episodes bring tears to my eyes no matter how many times I’ve read them.

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        • Thanks, Kat Lib! Are those books nonfiction, or semi-autobiographical fiction? If nonfiction, I read so few of that kind of book these days, but I do make exceptions. This could be one of them! From your description, the books sound absolutely wonderful.

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          • These books are very autobiographical about this vet going back to before and after he served in the army when WWII occurred. He is such a likable person and anyone who cares about animals will love these books.

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            • Ever read Gavin Maxwell’s “Ring of Bright Water?” Concerns a man and his love of otters, one in particular. Also autobiographical, well-written and moving in places.

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              • Yes, I’ve read that book about the otter and just loved it. I must admit to having a great love for books about animals, whether fiction or non-fiction. I really want to buy a book by Jon Stewart’s wife “Do Unto Animals” that is coming out in October. I believe that the Stewarts are starting up a farm sanctuary in NJ after he leaves “The Daily Show” tonight (boo-hoo!).

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                  • Dave, I don’t know if you have seen any of the clips from the last show with Jon Stewart, but it really was as close to perfection as one could get, and then to end it with two songs by Bruce Springsteen and the e-street band, including one of my fave singers, his wife Patti Scialfa, What a great ending for a great show!

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                    • Thanks for the comment, Kat Lib! I haven’t yet watched any of Jon Stewart’s last show (I’m “on the road” now), but it sounds like it was wonderful. Springsteen! Patti Scialfa! Nice! Stewart is just SO admirable, and the 16 years of his show were fantastic. He put most other media people to shame, and is MUCH more trustworthy.

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  15. Love this, Dave! “Animals” speaks to me! I only remember animals in dog books with happy endings because they’re the only ones I read. So, I love Chet in Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie mysteries. Oh, and then Bubbles and Spot in “Tales of a Codependent Pet Owner!”

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    • Thanks, Cathy! 🙂 I know you’re a VERY dedicated animal person, and have authored the wonderful/funny book about your dogs that you mention at the end of your comment!

      I also know what you mean about preferring to read animal books with happy endings. It’s so painful when it’s otherwise. 😦

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  16. Dave,

    I think we all cried over “Where the Red Fern Grows”, which incidentally caused me to go on a binge read as a young teen for more books on hunting dogs. I read the wonderful Jack London novels, probably should reread as an adult to see what else is in the layers of those stories. I also read “Big Red”, “Irish Red”, and “Outlaw Red” by Jim Kjelgaard. All were written for the same age range as “Red Fern” and were great books for a dog lover.

    Recently I added the book “The Art of Racing in the Rain” to my list of books. The narrator is the dog and my parents raved about it.

    There are so many good books with animals in them that its hard to even list them, but I must mention “Pern” the book series by the late Anne McCaffrey. Dragons that can talk to people if they want makes for good stories, and the volume of novels means there is not going to be a shortage any time soon.

    I also enjoyed the minor parts played by the animals in Dean Koontz’s “Moonlight Bay” series. The intelligent cats naming themselves after “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” remains of my favorite bits of writing.

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    • GL, you accurately said “there are so many good books with animals in them that it’s hard to even list them” — but you named quite a few great titles. Thanks!

      I’ve only read two of the authors you mentioned: Jack London and Dean Koontz. London’s “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang” are deservedly classics, and “Seize the Night” from the Moonlight Bay Trilogy is quite good. (I haven’t read the first book in that trilogy, and I understand the third one has yet to appear.) Orson the dog in “Seize the Night” is an excellent “character.”

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  17. Some notable books I’ve read with animals playing a principal role: “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel, with the unforgettable alter-ego tiger Richard Parker; early John Irving novels, with his fascination with bears, particularly “The Hotel New Hampshire”; the delightful children’s books by E. B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web”, and “Stuart Little”, and my favorite childhood book, Kenneth Graham’s “The Wind in the Willows”. So many great books with animals reflect the human condition in the character of the animal.

    Of course you’ve already mentioned the great novels by Jack London, “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang”. I loved these companion works, one about a domestic dog that embraces his “wild” ancestry, and the other about a wolf that seeks the benefits of domestication.

    Dogs are certainly one of the easiest species for us human’s to relate to. The symbiotic relationship between man and dog is a wonderful source of material. One of the authors that is a delight to read is humorist James Thurber. I recently reread his short story, “The Dog That Bit People”, and almost doubled over in laughter. Thurber had a real understanding of dogs, which came through with much humor in his prose as well as his cartoons.

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    • “Life of Pi” — a MAJOR addition, drb, with that memorable tiger. And thanks for naming those various other renowned books with animal characters.

      “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang” are indeed books with opposite progressions. Both riveting. As you know, Jack London didn’t anthropomorphize his (part-wolf) dogs, but still made them indelible characters.

      “The symbiotic relationship between man and dog is a wonderful source of material” — great line, and so true!

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  18. Yet another thought provoking column, Dave! So many animals in literature that I remember well. The Black Stallion by Walter Farley; Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis; Dusty by Frank Dalby Davidson…. I could go on 🙂

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    • Thanks, Annie, for your terrific list of animals in literature! I should have remembered the C.S. Lewis one; heck, an animal is part of the title. 🙂

      I guess some would consider “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” a children’s book (though I first read it as an adult) — which brings to mind that TONS of children’s books feature animals. “The Cat in the Hat,” “Lyle Lyle Crocodile,” “Frog and Toad,” and about a zillion others!

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  19. Hi, Dave. You look very well on the video. That was a nice treat. You also should update your photo on the website, as you look much younger on this video. Maybe just need a new shot of yourself to post. Funny how stills are not really all that close to how people really look sometimes. Take care, Dave. Enjoy the rest of summer.

    Deb HopeWFaith

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    • Thanks so much, hopewfaith, for your kind words about the video! Maybe being in the sunlight helped my gray hair look better. 🙂

      As for photos, some people photograph better than others, and I’m not one of them. 😦

      Hope your summer is going well, too!

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  20. Dave, when I got my kitty Jessie from a shelter four years ago she was a very sick young girl. I slept with her in my recliner for two days until she got better. I wouldn’t trade her for anything in this world.

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      • Hah yes, but I didn’t mention that my neighbor across the hall calls her “Devil Cat,” which she certainly was as a kitten and adolescent, but she has calmed down a lot since becoming an adult who sleeps most of the whole day away. However, she still has this thing for a reclining chair that I have in my living room — which I call her $500 scratching post. But my answer to those who are concerned about that is that if a tornado came through or a fire, the first thing I’d grab would be Jessie, not a piece of furniture. 🙂

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        • Many cats do indeed mellow as they age; I remember from personal experience. 🙂 I guess your neighbor still “sees” the past Jessie in mind’s eye.

          A $500 scratching post — ha! But, as you say, a living being is so much more important than a piece of furniture.

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  21. You’re very welcome, Dave! I’m glad you’re enjoying reading Fannie Flagg! She writes so beautifully and has the most wonderful imagination! Can you imagine coming up with the plot line for “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe”? “The secret’s in the sauce!” I have two autographed copies of “I Still Dream About You” (long story) which takes place in Birmingham. I am so happy she’s still among the living! Maybe she will grace us with several more novels!

    I remember your column on the web site that starts with the same letters as Hokey Pokey. As I recall, that’s when I recommended that you read Gerald Durrell’s “My Family And Other Animals” which is one of my favorite books with animals as protagonists. It’s truly one of the funniest books I have ever read!

    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote compelling stories about animals and people’s sometimes disastrous interactions with them. Even when we’re trying to help a wild animal, often times we end up doing harm.

    Since we’re talking about animals, I must say that I cannot for the life of me understand how someone can derive pleasure from the death of another living being! I just can’t. If that dentist wants to know who is responsible for ruining the rest of his life, all he has to do is go look in the mirror!

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      • Thank you!!! Glad you liked it!

        As you may have guessed, me reading my own book on the street was staged at the request of the filmmaker (who I thought did an excellent job with the segment). I might read other books on the street, but never my own. 🙂

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    • Fannie Flagg is such a warm, humane, interesting, expert writer. And “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion,” like Ms. Flagg’s other work, is very feminist in a low-key way. I will definitely read more of her books. “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” is indeed highly original — and a masterpiece. Wonderful that you have two signed copies of “I Still Dream About You”!

      “My Family And Other Animals” is a VERY funny book with extremely memorable characters. I know it’s nonfiction, but it reads almost like a novel.

      Thanks, also, for the mention of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings!

      Ha ha — “Hokey Pokey”! A worthy, hilarious reference to THAT site.

      More seriously, I agree that it’s unimaginable how people can derive pleasure from killing animals. That dentist deserves to be criminally charged, lose his practice, and be shunned. What he did was unforgivable.

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    • The books by Fannie Flagg have been mentioned so often, that I have finally put them on my list. Stupid question — is this the same woman that appeared as a comedienne on so many game shows in the 70’s (Match Game)?

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      • That’s her, drb! She had a TV career before becoming an author. But she’s actually a terrific novelist who can be light and funny yet also deep. For instance, the fantastic “Fried Green Tomatoes…” delves into racism, wife abuse, poverty, closeted lesbianism, etc. — and is often nonlinear (bouncing around various 20th-century decades) — while simultaneously being very humorous and entertaining.

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        • Wow, quite a career. I do recall seeing the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”, but it’s been quite a while. I look forward to reading some of her work. I just did some quick research on the ‘nets. Apparently, Harper Lee and Eudora Welty were thought very highly of her novels. As a big fan of the “Southern Gothic” genre, I’m sure I’ll enjoy.

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          • I’ve never seen the “Fried Green Tomatoes” movie, but I’ve heard it’s very good (albeit somewhat different than the novel; for instance, the romantic attraction between Idgie and Ruth is turned into them being basically friends).

            I didn’t know Harper Lee and Eudora Welty were fans of Fannie Flagg’s work! Nice! Flagg is definitely in the Southern Gothic genre, but is not as “heavy as, say, Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy.

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  22. Hi Dave … Hope you’re having a wonderful Sunday! Kat Lib already mentioned my two favorite books about animals : “Black Beauty” and “Old Yeller”. And of course, animals — of a sort — played a pivotal role in Alice in Wonderland: the white rabbit, the Cheshire cat, and quite a few more (I’m assuming we can include talking animals 🙂 Speaking of talking animals, another of my favorite books is George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. It was required reading in 8th grade history, way back in the 60s; none of my children were required to read it in their history classes, and I was kind of surprised about that. Oh, and we can’t forget Stephen King’s “Cujo”!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pat, for that wide variety of great animal-in-literature mentions! Fictional creature characters definitely range from ones that act like the animals they are to ones that act like the humans they aren’t (yes, we can include talking animals 🙂 ).

      A shame “Animal Farm” wasn’t required reading in your children’s school. A profound book. Orwell was even more riveting in “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” but “Animal Farm” was quite thought-provoking.

      And animals were indeed a BIG part of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice” books.

      Hope you’re having a nice Sunday, too!

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  23. On a lighter note, my brother who deals in older books sent me a copy of two of the Lillian Jackson Braun novels about the two Siamese cats that solves crimes. One of them is signed by the author, which is accompanied by an inked pawprint of “Koko.” Honestly!

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  24. Hi Dave, I think you already know that I love the books about “Lad A Dog,” and all the other collies written about by Albert Payson Terhune about the beloved collies of Sunnybrook Farm. Several of my favorite books include “Old Yeller” and “Black Beauty,” There are some writers today who love dogs, such as Lisa Scottoline, who always mention a Golden Retriever in each of her novels. I also think that the outrage over Cecil the Lion is appropriate, yet I don’t understand putting this story over one about a black man being killed by an officer of any color.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Albert Payson Terhune’s books ARE great, Kat Lib! I think we’ve also discussed his lesser-known novel “His Dog,” which is SO moving. Thanks, also, for your mentions of other novels, and Lisa Scottoline.

      What happened to Cecil the lion is outrageous. I agree that some people and media outlets seem to be more concerned about that than all the horrendous deaths of black people at the hands of (usually) white police. There’s room for fury at both things (life of all kinds is precious), but obviously the situation of the police murders is ultimately much more important.

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      • Dave. I just said the same thing to my best friend yesterday– there is no comparison with someone killing an animal (as bad as that it is) but not responding to a man being killed by a human, let alone a black man pulled over for a bogus traffic stop.

        Liked by 1 person

          • I just saw a clip of a woman on some news program who is a big game hunter and tried to defend it. It was pathetic, especially her claim that it’s OK to kill these animals because the hunters “have respect for them.” Huh? What does that even mean?

            Liked by 2 people

              • Interesting perspective. The author makes some very good points.

                I think the outrage is, as you say, hunters going into protected reserves and killing animals. Hunting in a controlled, organised, structured environment such as a reserve is 100% different than hunting in the wild. These cowards wouldn’t dare venture into forests and rivers and come face to face with lemurs, hyenas, wild boars, hippos, Mamba snakes, lions, baboons, and crocodiles.

                Big game hunters and huntresses need to leave the safety of reserves/safaris, and try hunting without weapons. I guarantee they will not make it out alive. Now THAT would be a real challenge, not luring animals out of reserves and killing them.

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                  • Dave, I continue to be upset about all of these “trophy hunters,” and I still have major problems with those people who are arguing for a “hunter perspective” unless those people doing it are those who hunt for food.

                    At any rate, I just spent a few moments sending an email to both of my senators and my congressional representative to vote for the President’s deal with Iran. I know I shouldn’t perhaps bring this up on a blog about books, but I feel so strongly about this issue that I had to put my voice in.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • No problem bringing up the President’s deal with Iran, Kat Lib! All topics are welcome. 🙂 Great that you emailed your congresspeople about that. I also support the deal, which is better than no deal. The right-wingers against the deal seem to just want another Mideast war — and of course a war that none of them and none of their children would have to fight. They’d let lower-income soldiers handle it. 😦

                      I also don’t have any use for the “hunter perspective.”

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