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
Wonder why you’re not seeing any ads for Pedigree dog food during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?
Apparently, mutts like Roscoe (above) — especially homeless ones — aren’t viewed by the club as sending the right message, so they’ve cut their ties to long-time sponsor (as in 24 years) Pedigree dog foods.
Apparently, some of Pedigree’s ads — the ones promoting dog adoption, the ones featuring sad-eyed mixed breeds as opposed to well-coiffed, prancing purebreds – were just too hard-hitting and depressing for the kennel club’s tastes.
“We want people to think of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as a celebration of the dogs in our lives,” David Frei, the club’s director of communications and the host of the show for over two decades, told the Associated Press.
“Our show is a celebration of dogs. We’re not promoting purebreds at the expense of non-purebreds. We celebrate all dogs. When we’re seeing puppies behind bars, it takes away from that. Not just because it’s sad, but it’s not our message … Show me an ad with a dog with a smile; don’t try to shame me.”
Pedigree’s ads, club honchos agreed, were getting too heavy-handed.
Frei said the kennel club had expressed those concerns to Pedigree: “We told them that, and they ignored us.”
Taking a look at the newest series of ads that are part of Pedigree’s continuing efforts to encourage dog adoptions — you can see them here — I don’t see much sadness. They seem more an expression of pride. They come right out and say don’t feel sorry for me. They seem to say the shelter mutt is just as valuable, and will make just as good a pet (and we’d argue maybe even better) than a purebred.
Maybe that’s the kennel club’s problem. Maybe they want television coverage of Westminster — the big show began yesterday at Madison Square Garden — to keep the focus strictly on purebreds, which are, for it, the money makers.
Granted, some of Pedigree’s earlier adoption-oriented ads were pretty bleak in tone; and everybody (attention ASPCA and Humane Society) is getting tired of those ads that, while cool for the first two viewings, continue to tug so blatantly and repeatedly at our heartstrings we now switch the channels instantly when they come on.
Granted, too, the Westminster Dog Show is free to choose any advertisers it wants, and the American Kennel Club does fund research and offer programs that benefit all dogs, purebred or not. And, to keep things in context, it’s not necessarily dissing mutts with this particular action; it’s dissing downer, guilt-inducing adoption ads.
But it all comes across a little like snobbery; a little like denial, when it comes to the millions of dogs euthanized each year; a little like let’s stay here in our private fantasy world — not open to the unwashed masses, or those who might be of mixed breeds, even though every purebred, except the wolf, is in fact a result of mixing.
Pedigree has been replaced with Nestlé Purina PetCare, whose ads of peppy, happy dogs are more to the kennel club’s liking. The new partnership was announced last spring.
“They’ve shared with us, when we parted ways, that they felt that our advertising was focused too much on the cause of adoption and that wasn’t really a shared vision,” said Melissa Martellotti, a brand communications manager for Mars Petcare US, which makes the Pedigree brands. The kennel club, she said, is “focused on the purebred mission.”
Martellotti said the partnership had been a boon to Pedigree’s adoption initiatives. In 2007, $500,000 in pledges were received after its ads were broadcast over the show’s two days.
Nearly 3.5 million people watched last year’s show, broadcast on the USA Network and CNBC.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 14th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, ads, advertising, animals, campaign, celebrate, company, david frei, dog food, dog show, dogs, dogs in advertising, dropped, euthanized, kennel club, message, mutts, pedigree, pets, purebred, sad, shelters, sponsor, westminster, woof in advertising
The U.S. Postal Service is issuing four new stamps that honor working dogs.
The “Dogs at Work” series celebrates the enduring partnership between working dogs and the people who count on them.
The four dogs depicted in the 65-cent stamps are a guide dog assisting a woman who is blind, a tracking dog on the trail of a scent, a therapy dog visiting an elderly woman in her home, and a search and rescue dog standing in a field.
Artist John M. Thompson created original paintings for the stamps, which were designed by art director Howard E. Paine.
The “Dogs At Work” stamps will come out in January, 2012, and are being issued at the two-ounce rate.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 29th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 65-cent, animals, artist, celebrate, detecting, dog, dogs, dogs at work, guide dog, honor, issuance, issue, john m. thompson, office, pets, post, postal, rate, rescue, search, series, sniffing, stamps, therapy dog, tracking, two ounce, working, working dogs
Maybe I’ve been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah …
What brings me to quote Leonard Cohen?
Because – Hallelujah! — I’ve completed my book manuscript, that major occupier of my time, mind, heart, soul and life for the past 12 months.
Twelve months that, like the once-reclusive Cohen, I became something of a hermit, venturing out pretty much only for book-related research trips, groceries and to walk the dog — totally wrapped up in my own thoughts and ignoring friends and family even more than I normally do.
Not to mention putting off focusing on the one thing I need most — a job.
Anyway, given that listening to Leonard helped me through the final stretch of the book — a non- (and-stranger-than-) fiction account of dog cloning’s journey from conception to the marketplace — I thought this song, appropriate on numerous levels, would serve as a good, low-key celebration. (Nobody can crank up the low-key like Leonard.)
Although the song has been covered by many, it’s only right that we bring you the original, sung by the composer, as opposed to a cloned version.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 31st, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: book, business, celebrate, cloned, clones, cloning, dog, dogs, finished, hallelujah, john woestendiek, leonard cohen, manuscript, marketing, pets, publishing