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 2010 and I’m down to one dog.
The last of my holiday guests has been returned to her owners, leaving Ace and me on our own again. However tested we might have felt at times, I think we both agree it’s way too quiet now.
I’d like to think that Ace and my guests gained something from the experience — that Darcy will remember to relieve herself outdoors; that Cheyenne will remember how Ace helped guide her to the park; that Lucas will never forget that I can bark louder — though not for as long — as him.
Maybe I taught them a thing or two, but they — as often happens when humans and dogs connect – have taught me much more.
Hence, my New Year’s resolutions:
Be more like Ace: Share. Allow new beings, after a good sniffing out, into my life. When others get on my nerves, just walk away. Don’t whine. Don’t get cranky. Take things in stride. Adjust.
Be more like Lucas: Speak up when circumstances so dictate, or maybe sometimes even when they don’t. Keep plodding along, despite any aches, pains or inconveniences. And, if there’s a particularly attractive mud puddle, do not hesitate, even if wearing white, to jump on in and splash around. Get dirty once in a while.
Be more like Cheyenne: When I bump my head, keep going — with quiet grace. Persevere. Don’t whine about the obstacles; find a way around them. Step lightly, but keep moving forward.
Be more like Darcy: Seize the day. Live in the moment (even though, at the moment, I’m quite sick of that phrase). Grab the bone. Fart loud and often. Explore. Stay excited — maybe not to the extent she does — but stay excited by life.
Be more like Ace and Cheyenne: Be willing to help and be helped, to guide and be guided.
When you can cushion the blows somebody is taking, cushion them.
Don’t hesitate to hold somebody’s hand. Let others lean on me. Allow myself to lean on others.
Be willing to adjust my gait, my habits and my routines for good purposes.
Share the couch.
Share the bowl.
(To read all of the “Company for Christmas” series, click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, adapt, adjust, animals, assistance, behavior, blind, boarding, cheyenne, christmas, company for christmas, darcy, dependence, dogs, guests, help, holidays, learn from dogs, lessons, lucas, new year, new years, pets, resolutions, visitors
After telling my dog story at Monday night’s Stoop Stories appearance, I ran into photojournalist Bonnie Schupp in the Centerstage lobby.
Bonnie and her husband (David Ettlin, a former co-worker of mine at the Baltimore Sun) don’t have a dog now, but they are frequently called upon as dogsitters.
It was while babysitting Roxy, their daughter’s puggle, that Bonnie put together the following observations, reprinted here with her permission:
“What Roxy Has Taught Me”
On your way, travel with a sweeping motion
so you will experience both sides of the path.
Stop to smell the dirtâ€”
full of hidden life.
Romp with leaves and
don’t worry about how silly you look.
It’s okay to run around in circles
as long as you do it joyfully.
Sometimes it’s good to chase something
even if you don’t understand why.
You don’t stand a chance against
creatures with claws.
Take your time
“What Roxy Needs to Learn”
Calculators and bathroom walls
are not food.
Pick your nose up off the ground and
notice the deer watching you.
Learn to behave and the rest of the house
will become yours too.
(Photo of Roxy, courtesy of Bonnie Schupp)