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2018-11-07 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Long before Lassie came home or even fished Timmy out of the well, courageous Collies portrayed in the Terhune books mesmerized readers. Albert Payson Terhune (1872-1942) based his fictional canines loosely upon his own beloved Collies. However, the death-defying adventures of these literary Collies like Lad, Bruce, Gray Dawn or Wolf make the later cinema and TV Lassie look like a wimp.

Collies aren’t as popular as they once were as family pets. Perhaps their high maintenance coat is a deterrent to ownership. As a kid, I was mesmerized by Collies and felt I could often see their soul in their eyes.

November happens to be “Adopt a Senior Pet” month, and a touching story about Jake, a 16-year-old Collie being surrendered to an Ohio shelter, keeps popping up on Facebook sites. His owners “didn’t have time for him.”

The shelter reached out to Almost Home Dog Rescue of Ohio (AHDRO) with an email that said, “after 16 years of being a loyal companion, guardian of children, confidant and protector, he was discarded. The shelter gave him the quietest kennel they could find as he looked around in fear and confusion. He didn’t question or fight... he followed rescuers with trust and dignity and the wisdom that comes with older dogs.” AHDRO volunteers rushed there to take Jake for their Senior-to-Senior program so he would be well-cared for and never homeless again.


Jake, a Collie was surrendered to a shelter at 16 years old, and rescued for a Senior-to-Senior adoption program. Jake, a Collie was surrendered to a shelter at 16 years old, and rescued for a Senior-to-Senior adoption program. Back to Terhune, he was a breeder and author, lived at Sunnybank a spacious family estate near Wayne, NJ known as “The Place” in all of his dog works where he also referred to himself as “The Master” and his wife Anice as “The Mistress.” “Lad: A Dog,” first published in 1919, began as a series of short stories for “Redbook” magazine until fans kept clamoring for more. Terhune’s 30 or so books, as well as his personal pets, became extremely popular.

Terhune had a unique, opinionated narrator style focusing on the actions and motives of the Collie protagonist, attributing abilities beyond the dog’s documented realm plus theories that may remain unproven. For example, he insisted that Collies were more closely descended from wolves than other dogs. Many of his tales were morality plays where the Collie taught the Master, or another human, a lesson. Today part of Sunnybank is a museum and park where many beloved namesakes of the author’s Collie super-heroes are buried.

I was thrilled to locate a volume of Terhune’s “Bruce,” copyright 1920, with a Collie painting insert, and the author’s dedication to his Sunnybank Collies, which is actually a testament to a dog’s humility and unconditional love. Here is an excerpt: “To My 10 Best Friends- Who are far wiser in their way and far better in every way, than I; and yet who have not the wisdom to know it-Who do not merely think I am perfect, but who are calmly and permanently convinced of my perfection; and this in spite of fifty disillusions a day-Who are frantically happy at my coming and bitterly woebegone in my absence….”

To top it off, the book printed right after the Armistice, captures the mood of post war time while Terhune recounts the exploits of the main Collie character, Bruce, a pet turned brave World War I courier dog. He seemed to be immortal. Bruce survived

“boche” [French slang for “Germans”] machine gun wounds and a bullet to the skull, led 12 men back to the trenches during a foggy night circumventing barb wire and a platoon of Germans, and sprang back to life during the eulogy at his premature funeral.

Since Bruce could “smell” the difference between a German (whiff of “cabbage”) and an Allied soldier, between a man and a woman, the dog was able to uncover and practically kill a German spy disguised as a Red Cross nurse while this enemy imposter is signaling the arrival of troop trains. Betcha Lassie couldn’t do that.

*Special Program Open to the Public: “Domestic Violence and the Family Pet”

On Nov. 13, from 6-8 p.m. at Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Bldg. Ceremonial Chamber, 1550 Franklin Ave. Mineola, PAWS (Pioneers for Animal Welfare) is present- ing this important program. The family pet is often abused and, at times, killed in domestic violence situations. The pets may be used as pawns to threaten the victim to remain in the home. Many times, the victims will not leave the family home because they will not leave their pet behind. Most shelters will not take the victims’ pets, and family and friends do not always step up and take an animal in, during this crisis. Temporary pet placement is vital so victims are able to move out of the home to a safe place and know their animals are safe. RSVP for this program at 631-306-4616.

PAWS is thankful for the knowledgeable and experienced presenters listed below:

•Gary Rogers, Nassau County, SPCA

•Jed Painter, Nassau County District Attorney’s office, Counsel to the District Attorney

•Diane Harvey, Associate Director of Education at The Safe Center.

Two Senior Dogs for Adoption: Missy #17-452, an older pocket Pit comes from one of the most neglectful homes ever. She loves her shelter friends but would prefer a forever home. Missy is at Babylon Town Shelter, 80 New Highway, N. Amityville 631-643-9270. Honey is a senior Beagle from Amherst, Virginia. She has two distinct heart markings on her sides. Honey looks like she has had a rough life. She was used for breeding, and has a heart murmur. This Beagle Love Bug is at Last Hope, 3300 Beltagh Ave., Wantagh. Call 631- 946-9528.

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