By Stephen Kellogg
It’s the 35th anniversary of the Great Dane, Pinkerton, that arrived at the Kellogg household in 1976 as a pup, and ultimately grew into a favorite of young readers in droves. And Kellogg’s anniversary edition reacquaints both parents and young readers with the reason why they fell in love with this positively peerless pooch.
So,what is the first rule of thumb for all newly minted pups? Why, to follow the commands of its master and family members, of course! And failing successful training by their owners, pups are usually relegated to Puppy Training Classes. They are sometimes, but not always, headed by dog trainers that look with a very jaundiced eye of disapproval at owners unable to hold sway over their dogs.
And woe betide the dog that does not fall in line immediately with other pupils in accepting the trainer’s commands. He, or she, is at once banished to doggie Bogey land. Reason: They are setting a very bad example for the rest of the class.
Enter Pinkerton. He is a Great Dane that is, well, great in size and temperament, but sadly not in his ability to obey the slightest command correctly. For instance, if he is asked to COME, he jumps out the window, fetching slippers quickly turns into a munch fest of the fetchables, and, if bad guys approach and a loud bark is called for, Pinkerton will deluge the perpetrator with slobbery kisses. This puppy appears to have a problem in distinguishing commands!
One solution appears to present itself in the form of the The School of Perfect Behavior for dogs with Director, Dr. Aleasha Kibble the helm and Dr. Kibble runs a tight ship. Ms. Kibble obviously does not suffer fools gladly, nor dogs, that will not knuckle under.
The beloved Pinkerton is such a dog who is quickly dismissed by the sniffy Ms. Kibble when she learns that dogs follow the alpha dog’s example and that, of course, is the lovable Pinkerton!
Pinkerton put me in mind of our own episode with our bichon, BJ, who had his own issues with following commands. We ended up at the local middle school-held obedience class with a whole group of similarly frustrated puppy owners. The trainer was in complete command of her charges UNTIL she tried to demonstrate the technique of a CORRECTION to a dog named Duncan. Duncan was a black Scottish Terrier and was having none of that quick tug of the collar on his neck, so he promptly took the leash between his teeth at the exact proper point, making the snap IMPOSSIBLE! No amount of “Now Duncan, let go!” could convince this terrier to topple to that corrective measure. As I vaguely recall, our class was convulsed in silent laughter as Duncan and his owner were unceremoniously dismissed from class!
After his own dismissal by Ms. Kibble, Pinkerton and his owners get a first hand look at seeing if any of Pinkerton’s mixed up methods of obeying can serve as a deterrent for an unexpected house intruder. Will Pinkerton’s defense mode peter out when it comes to crunch time? OR will Pinkerton’s owners realize that THEY are the ones that have to adapt and adopt Pinkerton’s confused responses to commands, and use them to their advantage in a pinch!
Stephen Kellogg’s 35 year-old Pinkerton is as fresh a picture book pup as the day he arrived on the publishing scene.
And unlike the dour Duncan, he cannot be dismissed ever from the pantheon of lovable picture book pets!
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