Dog with glasses reading a book

 

*Note, most of these stories require a full box of Kleenex to get through…

I still get chocked up when I think about the fate awaiting Beauty and Ginger in the book Black Beauty, and have cried my eyes out over the ending of many copies of Old Yeller. There is something about animals that has the potential to hold and enrapture us. There are good animals, like the rabbits Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, and Blackberry in Watership Down and Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. Hard to imagine a spider saving the day, but Charlotte, writing in a web, saves the life of the beloved pig Wilbur. And what a pig he was! And then there are animals that are not so loveable, like Moby Dick, the albino sperm whale, in the book named after him.

There are tales of epic journeys like the two dogs and the cat, Luath, Dodger, and Tao. The Incredible Journey is based on a true story of the two dogs and a cat traveling through the wilderness to return home. There is the dog Buck who is kidnapped from down south and winds up being a sled dog in the Yukon in the story The Call of the Wild. There is the shipwrecked horse and a boy in the Black Stallion. When I read that book, I was a horse enraptured young teen who would have given anything to escape the confines of my middle class home to roam far beaches with a noble steed!

There are stories and lessons within the stories, like good old Chicken Little in the story named after her. In the story she gets hit by an acorn and tries to tell her town that the sky is falling. She is not really listened to, and although the sky is not falling, I think if Chicken Little was Rooster Little, she might have been taken a bit more seriously… There is the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. Talk about how societal expectations can lead to insecurity and self-doubt!

The Jungle Book introduces us to the mentor of Mowgli, the bear Baloo, Bagheera the black panther, and nasty Kaa, the Indian rock python. The story of a man child raised by wolves and the animals of the forest is the tale of any individual who feels like they are living between cultures, or conflicting expectations. Then, in the book Winnie-the-Pooh, we are introduced to many animals with issues. We have Pooh Bear who struggles with his addiction to honey and perhaps obsessive compulsive disorder as indicated by his repetitive counting. Tigger is impulsive and active and may have Attention Deficit hyperactivity disorder. Nervous Piglet may be showing generalized Anxiety Disorder and then there is the sad, but lovable Eeyore, who is a poster donkey for Depressive Disorder.

I think this should end with beloved Dewey the Library Cat. The Dewey Decimal System is how we shelf items in the library. When I was young I remember there being pets in many public stores and buildings. We had a pet cat at the hardware store in Victoria where I grew up, pet parrots at the library, and a very active rabbit that lived at the local florists. The Highway Book Shop had the two lazy cats which I miss as much as I miss the store! With so many individuals having allergies to animals now, it is very seldom that we can pat a pet while shopping, checking out a book, or buying a bag of nails. I am a real animal person, and armed with medical facts proving that pet owners live longer and have lower blood pressure, I lament the past when animals were a closer part of our communities. But, there are always the animals awaiting us in books.

 

Happy reading!