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
When Red’s hind legs went bad, Mike Mallory started using his.
Mallory — who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a car crash in 2001 and lives mostly on disability benefits he receives in Billings, Montana — learned last year his 5-year-old red heeler needed the anterior cruciate ligament in his left hind leg replaced.
Mallory was unable to afford the $3,000 surgery, but told a local veterinary hospital “I’ll figure something out.”
Dr. Ken Brown at the Animal Clinic of Billings agreed to give Red the operation he needed, and worry about the bill later.
Now, between Mallory’s fund-raising on the streets, and some friends who have helped him get donations over the Internet, enough money has been raised to pay the bill for fixing Red’s left hind leg.
Yesterday, though, Red was back at the vet to get the same procedure — on his right hind leg.
The surgery was performed in January, and the vet warned Mallory at the time that Red’s other hind leg would, sooner or later, need the same procedure.
Red reported to the vet’s office yesterday for that, and once again the clinic said it would do the surgery and worry about the payments later.
For most of the year Mallory has been carting Red around Billings in the wagon. “Walking for Red” is the name of a campaign he created to cover the surgery costs and raise awareness of pet emergencies.
Meanwhile, a Connecticut woman who learned of Mallory’s efforts has been helping him raise money via Facebook and other websites. “That man would walk across the world for his dog, and I really believe that,” Patty Daponte said.
As Mallory, who admits to having been a bit of a rambler and a loner, explains it, his dog, and the community’s response to his dog’s dilemma, have renewed his sagging faith and showed him there’s good in the world.
He says he was planning to move back home to Virginia and become a hermit living in the mountains, until Red came into his life.
“I’m a better man because of him,” said Mallory. “He’s the most loyal friend I have. He’s made me more caring, more loving and more respectful.”
He was surprised, too, by the support he has received since his dog encountered hard times: “There’s a lot of love in this world,” he said. “I’ve seen that, and I want to see more of it and spread more of it.”
Once Red recovers from his second surgery, Mallory plans to embark on a “walkabout” in which he and Red travel on foot to a yet-to-be-determined city out of the state to continue spreading awareness and raise money for people in similar situations, according to the Gazette.
When a reporter interviewed him earlier this week, Mallory was pulling Red in the bright yellow wagon while picking up trash from the streets.
He sees it as a way to repay the kindness people have shown him over the last few months.
“It’s just one of my ways of paying it forward,” he said. ”I can’t pay it back financially, so I do it this way.”
(Photo: James Woodcock / Billings Gazette)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acl, animal clinic of billings, animals, anterior cruciate ligament, billings, brain injury, cost, disabled, dog, dogs, expense, fundraising, health, heeler, hind, internet, ken brown, leg, mike mallory, montana, patty daponte, pets, pulling, red, red heeler, surgery, veterinary, wagon
There’s a new product on the market called “Dog Flags” — designed, their maker says, to “simplify the relationship between dog owners and the public at large.”
They come in five colors, with five labels — “Please Don’t Approach,” “Friendly,” “I’m in Training,” “Special Needs,” and “I’m Shy.”
You attach them to your dog’s leash. They cost five bucks. They also come in bandana form.
“With over 80 million owned dogs as pets in the United States alone, being able to know at a glance which canines you can approach and which ones you should leave alone goes a long way to avoiding unwanted incidents,” the company behind them says.
The flags may not be an entirely stupid concept. But they do over simplify things. Flag or not, it’s still best to ask the owner. Dogs, like humans, can be friendly one day, shy the next. To put a “Special Needs” label on your dog would seem to raise more questions than it answers — not that there’s anything wrong with that. And as for “I’m in Training,” aren’t we all? Pretty much always?
As for those dogs who need a red flag, some of them shouldn’t be out in the park/streets/coffee shops in the first place — at least not in those cases where they are still under the guardianship of the human who most likely turned them into a red flag dog. Then again, those humans aren’t likely to purchase a flag for their dog, anyway.
The tiered color system is similar to that used at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, but that’s a special environment where dogs are being rehabilitated. To suggest that all dogs in society should bear temperament flags (though nobody is, yet) is a little too Big Brotherish for my taste.
While there may be situations in which they come in handy, Dog Flags seem a shortcut to a more desirable scenario, a public — and I’m talking about both dog owners and non-dog owners — that’s more educated about dogs and how to approach and treat them.
Planting flags on dogs — “I hereby proclaim you … Shy” — seems a tad paternalistic. As with shock collars, my opinion is, unless you’re willing to try one on yourself first, don’t subject your dog to it.
Then again, Human Flags could come in handy.
I would probably get a yellow one — not for Ace, but for myself — and perhaps a red one for times I want to be alone, and maybe a green one for when I’m feeling frisky.
If they ever come out with a purple one that says “Freak,” I would probably get it, too, for there are times — rare though they are — that I feel like letting my freak flag fly.
If I did get one for Ace, it would have to be the green one. Sometimes, people veer away and cross the street when they see him. People often assume because he’s big he must be mean, or at least don’t want to get close enough to find out. But I’d probably rather a select and interested few take the time to slowly approach and get to know him than slap a “friendly” label on him and have children start climbing aboard.
“With … dogs increasingly going to human destinations, such as coffee shops, and cafes, Dog Flags become an important tool in preventing unnecessary incidents,” the Dog Flags website says. “… When your dog is wearing Dog Flags, everyone will know what to expect.”
It’s not that quick and easy. One can never totally know what to expect, with dogs or humans. So we suggest approaching both with a little bit of caution — no matter what their flags say.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bandana, behavior, blue, colors, dog flags, dog products, dogs, flags, friendly, green, humans, i'm in training, labels, leash, orange, pets, please don't approach, products, public, red, relationship, shy, special needs, tags, temperament, warning, yellow
It was five years ago when strange things started happening at the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
Somehow, the same group of dogs were escaping from their pens at the shelter at night and proceeding to raid the food area, where they ate, played and partied all night long.
The shelter at first suspected staff wasn’t propertly closing the gates. Then they thought maybe it was a practical joke.
Finally, to find the answer, they installed three cameras. The first couple of nights, nothing happened, but then the cameras caught a greyhound mix named Red in the act — first freeing himself, then freeing his friends from their cages.
In Great Britain and Ireland, they call the mixed breed “lurchers,” and they’re known for their stealth and cunning.
Red certainly fit that bill — and better yet, shortly after shelter staff brought an end to the late night parties, Red got adopted.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopted, battersea, behavior, cages, cameras, cats, dog, escape, food, free, freed, greyhound, home, incarcerated, kennels, lurcher, mix, mixed breed, party, pens, red, rescue, security, shelters, who let the dogs out
More than 100 dogs took part in 9-11 search and rescue efforts.
A decade later, only a dozen of them are still alive.
They are the subject of Retrieved, a new book by Charlotte Dumas, a Dutch photographer who tracked down the last surviving 9-11 dogs – three died while she was working on the book — and tells their story in words and pictures.
Dumas, 34, traveled to nine states in the U.S. from Texas to Maryland to photograph the dogs, now living with their handlers, in their twilight years.
The book, which, came out Friday, tells the story of them all, including Kaiser, Tuff, Hoke, Red, Merlyn, Guinness, Bretagne, Tara, Moxie, Abigail and Scout.
(The book doesn’t mention one 9-11 dog who died two years ago — but whose genes live on in his five clones.)
Noted for her touching portraits of animals, Dumas wanted Retrieved to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also serve as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs.
“I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved,” she said. “They speak to us as a different species, and animals are greatly important for our sense of empathy and to put things into perspective.”
Dumas contacted the New York Fire Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and discovered that out of nearly 100 dogs who were among the first responders, only 15 were still alive last year.
“They are all retired and I spent time with each of their handlers learning about their experiences,” Dumas said.
“The dogs are now old and they will soon pass away … These portraits are about how time passes, and how these dogs and their portraits are offering us a way to deal with the things that happened as well as relying on them for comfort.”
Since 2002, Charlotte Dumas has worked exclusively on photographic projects exploring the ways in which we use, define and relate to animals. Her previous works include Al Lavoro! (2011), Repose (2010), Paradis (2009), Heart Shaped Hole (2008), Reverie (2006), and Day is Done (2005).
(Photos: Tara (top) and Abigail; by Charlotte Dumas, from the book Retrieved)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 9-11, 911, abigail, book, books on dogs, bretagne, charlotte dumas, dogs, guinness, hoke, kaiser, merlyn, moxie, photography, portraits, red, retreived, scout, search and rescue, surviving, tara, the dogs of 9-11, tuff, world trade center
The color for today, courtesy of the state of Maine, is red.
There has been no avoiding it since Saturday, when we made our way from Portland to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park amid a dazzling array of fall colors.
Nearly every town we went through was sporting red. Yellow and orange, too, but red seemed to be the dominant hue.
Leaves, vines, shrubs, stop signs and cars, barns and sunsets all seemed to be vying for the honor of reddest red.
Even when I stopped for lunch — and ordered my first lobster roll — the fluffy white meat had red running through it. I sat outside under crisp skies, at a red picnic table, as Ace sat at my side and drooled.
Just across the street sat a red pickup truck, under a tree that was putting its best red forward as well.
The reds especially popped when set against the backdrop of the deep blue sea, as was the case as we made our way through coastal towns like Rockland and Camden.
We saw red antique stores, and red vines climbing up brick buildings, turning redder and redder as if challenging the brick: “You think you’re red? We’ll show you red.”
We saw barns fighting, amid the beating Maine takes from the weather, to hang on to their red, picnic tables with a new coat of red, lobsters soon to depart their deep red shells.
I’m not sure whether Maine is a red state or blue state when it comes to politics. I’m sure I could look it up.
But I’m too busy … enjoying the red.
(To see a synopsis of Ace’s travels so far, click here.)
(To see all of “Travels with Ace,” click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acadia national park, animals, autumn, bar harbor, camden, coast, coastal, color, colors, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, fall, fall colors, lobster, lobster roll, maine, pets, portland, red, rockland, seasons, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
Red, a pit bull seized from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation who went on to become a sweet-tempered mascot at the Monterey County SPCA, died this week while battling cancer.
Red arrived with scars on his face, chest, legs and torso — one of three pit bulls who came to the Monterey SPCA after federal authorities seized 47 dogs in a 2007 raid of Vick’s dog-fighting compound in Virginia.
He was adopted by SPCA pet behavior specialist Amanda Mouisset.
“He just really blossomed,” Beth Brookhouser, community outreach director for the SPCA for Monterey County, told the Monterey County Herald. “He was like a regular employee, a friend and a fellow staff member.”
Red made the daily rounds with Mouisset and helped her train other dogs by providing a calm example to the shelter’s more hyperactive residents.
Ginger and Bunny, the other Vick dogs that went to the Monterey SPCA, are both doing well, the Herald reported. One was adopted by a SPCA staff member and the other is with a foster family.
Red was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy, which was paid for by Vick as part of his sentencing. He took a turn for the worse last week and tests showed the cancer, thought to be in remission, had returned. He was euthanized Monday.
Red was 8 years old, which is three years more than he would have lived if those recommending all the Vick dogs be put down had their way.
“Before this case, dogs from the kind of situation were automatically euthanized,” Brookhouser said. “Red is a stunning example why animals should be treated as individuals — not lumped as a breed. He was the best ambassador for that breed any of us have ever seen.”
(Photo: Red with Katie Mouisset, daughter of SPCA pet behavior specialist Amanda Mouisset.)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, amanda mouisset, animals, behavior, bunny, california, cancer, dead, death, died, dogfighting, dogs, euthanized, ginger, michael vick, monterey, monterey county spca, news, ohmidog!, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbulls, red, rehabilitation, rescue, seized, shelter, spca
All named “Ruppy” — a combination of the words “ruby” and “puppy” — the dogs are pups no more, as you can see in a photo I took in February during my visit to Seoul National University, where Snuppy, the world’s first dog clone, was born in 2005.
Seoul National University professor Lee Byeong-chun, head of the research team, says they are the world’s first transgenic cloned dogs.
The fluorescence serves no purpose — other than letting the scientists know that the modified genes they inserted during the cloning process were successfully transferred.
“What’s significant in this work is not the dogs expressing red colors but that we planted genes into them,” Lee told the Associated Press Tuesday.
Successfully cloning dogs with flourescent genes paves the way to implanting disease-related genes into dogs, which will allow scientists to study and develop cures for human diseases.
The fluorescence is noticeable, even when the dogs aren’t under ultraviolet light. The Ruppy I met and photographed had pinkish skin around his nose, and pink claws.
Scientists in the U.S., Japan and in Europe have cloned fluorescent mice and pigs, but SNU’s achievement is the first time dogs with modified genes have been cloned successfully, Lee said.
He said his team took skin cells from a beagle, inserted fluorescent genes into them and put them into enucleated eggs cells from a surrogate mother dog. Those were implanted into the womb of the surrogate mother, a local mixed breed. Six cloned flourescent female beagles were born in December 2007, two of which died.
Lee said his team has already started to implant human disease-related genes during the cloning process, in hopes they will be able to discover treatments for genetic diseases such as Parkinson’s.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 29th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: beagle, biotech, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, disease, dogs, fluorescent, glowing, human, lee byeong-chun, models, red, research, ruppy, science, seoul national university, snuppy, south korea, transgenic