Clifford, who has always been so much more than big, so much more than red, is now more than half a century old.
Clifford turned 50 Monday.
And he had a big red birthday party — many of them, in fact.
While his birthday was celebrated in schools across the country, the biggest shindig was in New York, where students sang happy birthday outside the headquarters of his publishing company and Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared it Clifford the Big Red Dog Day.
Clifford’s creator, Norman Bridwell, took questions from first- and second-graders during a webcast shown there and beamed live into more than 5,000 classrooms around the country.
Bridwell, 84, told the Associated Press, his initial plans were for Clifford to be as big as a horse; eventually, though, Clifford became bigger than a house. He ended up red because that’s the color of the jar of paint Bridwell had nearby.
“I don’t really understand it,” he said of Clifford’s enduring nature. “Whether it’s his color, or if it’s the fact that he’s clumsy, like a lot of kids are clumsy.”
Bridwell’s daughter, upon whom the character Emily in the books is based, told reporters her artist father and his wife, Norma, were struggling to earn a living in New York when Norma suggested he try his hand at illustrating children’s books. Norma came up with the name Clifford, too, based on an imaginary friend she had as a girl.
Bridwell’s daughter, now a teacher, was a one-year-old at the time.
Bridwell shopped his drawings around, meeting initially with rejection. Eventually, he and Clifford were welcomed at Scholastic, and the company provided Bridwell with “10 Big Ideas” around which to fashion the stories, including sharing, respect, believing in oneself and helping others.
Today, Clifford is part of elementary school curriculum, and more than 126 million copies of the 90 books about the big and big-hearted dog are in print in 13 languages, in addition to a TV show, plush toys, a magazine and, yes — who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks? – even a Clifford app.
(Photos: Courtesy of Scholastic)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 25th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 50, 50th, big, big red dog, birthday, books, books on dogs, bridwell, celebrate, children's books, clifford, curriculum, dog, dog books, elementary, good dog reads, lessons, norma, norman bridwell, red, schools, students, teachers
It’s time for DogFest, the Baltimore Humane Society’s annual day-long celebration of dogs.
It’s this Saturday, Oct. 15 (with a rain date of Oct. 22) at the Baltimore Humane Society, 1601 Nicodemus Road in Reisterstown.
Gates open at 9 a.m., and activities continue until 6 p.m., with a full schedule of games, contests and events, and plenty of vendors, prizes, experts, food and adoptable pets
The entrance fee is $10, and parking is free.
As usual, the Humane Society requests no retractable leashes.
Keep reading for the full schedule. Read more »
Posted by jwoestendiek October 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoptions, agility, animals, baltimore, baltimore humane society, big, canine, canine agility, contests, costumes, dancing dogs, dog, dogfest, dogs, events, experts, fundraiser, games, kissing dogs, lookalikes, mutts, pets, shelter, singing dogs, small, tricks, vendors
We all know that small dogs generally live longer than big dogs, but a new study in Canada suggests that docile, obedient, shy dogs dogs are prone to longer lives than unruly, disobedient, bold ones.
Vincent Careau at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec compared data from previous studies of personality in a number of dog breeds, and mortality data on the same varieties, and used additional data from insurance companies to come up with the conclusion.
Careau’s team found the most obedient breeds, such as German shepherds, poodles and bichon frises, tended to be the longest lived, while hard-to-train, high energy dogs such as pomeranians and beagles were more likely to die younger.
Another trait, aggressiveness, was linked to metabolic rate, with docile dogs such as collies burning calories more slowly than more territorial breeds, for instance .
According to a study abstract, “we tested whether proactive personalities (high levels of activity, boldness, and aggression) are related to a fast “pace of life” (high rates of growth, mortality, and energy expenditure)…
Being a shy, slow burner of calories myself, I can only hope the phenomenon applies to humans as well — for it means if I watch enough TV, take enough naps and avoid chasing squirrels, I will live longer than all of you doing your daily aerobics.
(Photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggressiveness, animals, big, bold, breeds, burning, calorie, disobedient, docile, dogs, high energy, life, life span, lives, longer, longevity, metabolic rate, mortality, news, obedient, ohmidog!, personality, pets, quebec, shy, small, study, traits, university of sherbrooke, vincent careau
The kindness of strangers has gotten Ozzie a long way. Now the Great Pyrenees — abandoned as a pup — is ready for his next big step.
Ozzie was one of three pups abandoned by a breeder. For five months, they wandered North Carolina’s coast, until a stranger coralled them and called Carolina Great Pyrenees Rescue.
The rescue’s president Martha Rehmeyer, of Winston-Salem, took the three brothers in.
The dogs were dirty and emaciated, didn’t trust people, and had never worn collars. They were also big — the gentle breed commonly surpasses the 100-pound mark.
Rehmeyer and other volunteers spent months training and socializing the pets and, once that was accomplished, Ozzie’s brothers, Big Um and Titan, quickly found adoptive homes.
But Ozzie didn’t, mainly because he walked funny – like a duck, Rehmeyer explained to the Winston-Salem Journal. His back paws splayed out at 90-degree angles. X-rays showed that the knee ligaments in his back legs weren’t properly developed. Ozzie underwent surgery on his right leg, to insert a pin that would hold his knee in place, and thereby straighten out one of his paws. A few months later he had the same surgery on his left leg. He’s now staying temporarily in Greensboro with a foster mom, Susan Tanzer, who calls him a “bionic” dog. The rescue organization is seeking a forever home for him.
Carolina Great Pyrenees Rescue charges a $250 adoption fee for each dog, an amount meant to cover the cost of spaying or neutering, as well as house training and socializing the animals for adoption.
Rehmeyer wouldn’t divulge how much Ozzie’s surgeries cost, saying that wasn’t important. “We do it for the love of the breed, for the love of the dogs.”
To learn about Ozzie and the rescue’s other dogs, visit its website.
(Photo courtesy of Carolina Great Pyrenees Rescue)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animals, big, bionic, carolina great pyrenees rescue, dog, dogs, duck, funny, great pyrenees, knee, large, legs, ligaments, malformed, martha rehmeyer, north carolina, ozzie, paws, pets, pin, pyr, pyrs, rescue, stray, surgery, veterinarian, veterinary, walked, white
Barack Obama’s use of the term “girly dog” has raised the hackles (and who knows what other body parts) of a Huffington Post blogger who says it was disparaging — a threat both to his manhood and that of his dog, Manuel.
“…Clearly Mr. Obama meant “girly” in the pejorative sense, not as an adjective denoting “nice for girls,” but rather to suggest a dog that lives in conflict with its own manly nature or the manly nature of dogs in general,” wrote blogger Billy Kimball.
I can’t get too bent out of shape about the president-elect’s remark — “girly” somehow sounds less pejorative coming from Obama’s mouth than, say, an Arnold Schwarzenegger. But, in hindsight, perhaps a more politically correct term would have been “little yappy pipsqueak dog.”
Kimball’s not willing to cut the president-elect any slack in his piece, written in response to an exchange between Obama and his wife, Michelle, during an interview with Barbara Walters. When Walters suggested the First Family get a Havanese, the small breed of dog she has (and Kimball has), Obama said, “It sounds kinda like a girly dog…We’re going to have a big rambunctious dog.”
“By saying that he wanted a ‘big, rambunctious dog,’ Obama was trying to don the mantle of the ‘guy’s guy.’ “ Kimball wrote. “Big rambunctious dogs, through their genetic link to working and hunting breeds, establish one’s bona fides with the masses. Those toy breeds who don’t have to work for living probably belong to people who don’t either – or so the conventional wisdom would have it.”
Kimball gives Obama points for considering a shelter dog, but says, “making distinctions about dogs based on breed is nothing less than a form of canine racism and exactly the sort of thing many of us had hoped we were leaving behind on Nov. 3. ”
The truth is many small breeds have established themselves as some of the fiercest hunters. Kimball also misses the mark when he says Obama promised his children a dog if he won the election. Actually, he promised them one once it was over, win or lose.
Most ludicrous, though, is Kimball’s argument that it would be irresponsible to own a large breed of dog at the White House.
“Obama is acting irresponsibly by getting a dog much larger than is practical for people in his zip code who don’t have a Rose Garden and South Lawn for it to run around on,” Kimball says.
For one thing, Obama will have a Rose Garden and a South Lawn. For another, saying big dogs shouldn’t live in the city is precisely the kind of “canine racism” Kimball seems to be accusing Obama of.
A dog’s size doesn’t define it, and it shouldn’t define us — however much some people may try to read into things.
Your little dog doesn’t mean you’re “girly,” any more than my big dog means I’m compensating for some shortcoming with my bona fides.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 1st, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: barack obama, big, big dogs, canine, dog, dogs, first family, first pet, gender, girly, girly dogs, havanese, interview, little, little dogs, manly, manly dogs, obama, pets, racism, size, stereotypes, walters