Sunday, March 19, 2017

EverythingDogBlog: Cut This Out!

And put it on your fridge.

Thanks to dog trainer Sue Brown of Colorado of The Light of Dog, you now have a handy-dandy pictorial list of what NOT to let your dog eat.

Cut it out and stick it on the fridge! You'll be glad you did.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Review: 101 Dalmatians! For Adults and Big Kids.

101 Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith (Penguin, 184 pages, 1957, $5.95)

You’ve Seen the Disney Movie, But Have you Read the Book?

You have probably seen the movie countless times since 1961 if you have kids, but did you know 101 Dalmatians was first a book by playwright Dodie Smith (Dorothy Smith 1896-1990) who also wrote I Capture the Castle (a movie in 2003) and numerous other books*?

And the movie is in DVD. See a few DogEvals blogs about it here (Draw Cruella, take a quiz on the movie, adopt the Disney DVD, how many spots?

Delightfully Enthralling

We at DogEvals picked up the 1996 reprint and were we ever glad we did! It was delightfully entertaining even though we knew the story. And even though we knew the story, it was exciting – a bit different from the movie but only a slight bit. (The beginning starts out slightly differently and the return of the pups to London may have differed slightly with perhaps a couple more adventures along the way, but children who know the Disney movie will not be disappointed).

When Television was New

With 18 short chapters, you can read one chapter a night to the kids and the pups or they can read one a night to you (the kids, not the pups!)

The wonder and perhaps the enduring love for this book is revealed in how it shows us that strangers will save us, given the chance to do good. The dogs of England rally around Pongo and Missus to rescue their kidnapped pups and more, to lead them home and protect and feed them along the way. What a lovely lesson for all the children and parents who read 101 Dalmatians!

Secondarily is the canine lesson to never bite a human, especially a child, no matter what that child does. “All very young creatures are ignorantly cruel.” (p. 70) “To bite a human is the greatest crime a dog can commit. You shall not let that cruel, thoughtless child put such a sin on your conscience. Your pain and anger will pass, but the guilt would remain with you or always.”

Great food for thought and topics for discussion with growing little ones.

A Darling Family

The Dearly family, composed of Mr. and Mrs. Dearly; their two childhood nannies, Nanny Cook and Nanny Butler; and their two Dals (Dalmatians), Pongo and Missus, remind us of that other lovely London family, the Darlings of Peter Pan fame. The Darlings have a canine nanny, Nana, a Newfie (Newfoundland).

The Dearlys, “like many other much-loved humans, . . . believed they owned their dogs, instead of realizing that their dogs owned them.” (p. 4)

Remember the Twilight Barking?

Kids, did you know there is also a Nine O’clock Barking and a Midnight Barking? And even a sequel called Starlight Barking?

You will want to know (“Heads’ up, parents!”) what a Great Dane looks like, and a Pomeranian, and a Spaniel, and an English Sheepdog, and a Golden Retriever, and a Setter (‘feather-brained as well as feather-tailed” [p.146]) and a Poodle and a Boxer (aren’t you glad Dodie Smith didn’t name all 480 dogs in the barking chain that relayed the word of the kidnapped 15 Dalmatian pups? “People [even] began to count their children carefully.” [p. 95])

The Story’s for Kids, the Writing’s for Parents

The kids will remember that Dalmatian pups are born “spotless” – “lollopy creatures with clumsy feet. “ (p. 107) They will recognize Lucky, Roly Poly, the Cadpig, and Patch. They will learn that Cruella de Vil’s ear tastes like pepper and “she’s enough to frighten the spots off a pup.” (p. 37)

On the other hand, nearly every page has a phrase or sentence that will take parents for a lovely ride: “. . . usual dogs are really more unusual than unusual dogs.” (p. 28) Adults smile as they read that the dogs “put the Dearlys on their leashes and led them into the park.” (p. 43)

Ms. Smith’s writing is delightful but not contrived. When Pongo has to tell Missus some unfortunate news, he thinks “if he told her before dinner, she might lose her appetite, and if he told her afterwards, she might lose her dinner.” (p. 51)

And Who is the Hundred and Oneth Dalmatian?

Read the book to find out! And discover how Dodie Smith “Made England Safe for Dalmatians” again.

*Starlight Barking is the sequel. Did you even know there is a sequel to 101 Dalmatians?

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Cutest Darn Cowdog in the Whole Wide West

“I see by your outfit that you are a cowdog,” I remarked to the lovely golden Golden Retriever in the rakish cowboy hat.

“Yup,” he woofed (evidently a dog of few words).

If Zuma isn’t the best darn cowdog in the Whole Wide West, at least he’s the cutest!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Book Review: Hank, the Cowdog (for kids but adults love Hank, too!)

Hank, the Cowdog: It’s a Dog’s Life, by John Erickson, (1984, 5.99$, Puffin Books, 127 pages [#3 of 57 books in the series, as well as audios], ages 9-12)

Hank is the bumbling, misunderstood hero-dog all young boys would like to be!
Head of Ranch Security and leader-mentor of one (Drover the dog), Hank makes rounds of his Texas panhandle ranch at night, takes a quick bath in the green water, then snoozes throughout the day on his funky burlap sack beneath the water tank when he isn’t out solving mysteries or having adventures.
He is an outdoor dog who gets himself into scrapes and scraps that he somehow manages to get himself out of by the end of chapter 12. And Drover goes along for the ride as number one sidekick assistant who usually gets things mixed up (he is still learning).
A Boy’s Book for Girls, Too
Written for 9-12 year olds by a former cowboy who began the series 28 years ago, a Hank book can be read all through in one sitting or one chapter at a time - cliff-hangers with interlocking plots.
Written to be Read Out Loud
Hank is a fast-talking lovable mutt and if you scrunch your eyes real tight and hold the cover at arms’ distance, you might be able to see him as a golden retriever – but a golden with short hair, long ears and a menacing grin for anyone who dares trespass on HIS ranch.
Lovable characters abound from Rip and Snort the singing (howling) coyotes, to Wallace and Junior the ugly buzzards who eat only dead things, to Beulah the cute girl dog on the neighboring ranch.
And, see the movie trailer here!
You, Too, Will be a Hank Fan
I’m a Hank fan and I’m an adult!
Hank, who attacks empty cowboy boots thinking they are headless leathery-skinned creatures,
Hank - who ‘marks’ a clothesline pole that then turns into an angry woman’s leg hanging out the clothes,
Hank - who is thought to be rabid when he foams at the mouth after eating a bar of Ivory soap,   
Hank, who breaks out of the pound and breaks into houses,
Hank - you gotta love ‘im,
Hank - the accidental hero!
And only 53 Hank books left to devour!
For more fun and games, go to 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book Review: Charlie Plays Ball (ranch dog)

Charlie Plays Ball, by Ree Drummond with illustrations by Diane deGroat (Harper, 2015, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 4-8)

Play Ball!

You CAN sometimes judge a book by its cover and this is one of those times. The Charlie books are simply grand – for grandkids and their grandparents, too! You will have your favorite, however. And the author, Ree Drummond, also a cooking guru, now has a line of kitchen assists (at least on military bases). What fun to bring the whole family into Charlie's world on the ranch.

Story vs Pictures

With children’s books, either the story or the illustrations can make or break a book. Generally one is yards better than the other but with the Charlie books, both are simply grand!

Diane deGroat’s visual depictions, not only of Charlie, but also of Oklahoma ranch life tell the story in pictures that Ann Marie (“Ree”) Drummond tells so humorously with her talented words.

Quiz after Fun Quiz

After your child has been read Charlie Plays Ball countless times and can then read it to you, it’s time to examine the illustrations – count the different sport balls on the cover, name the animals: what do you think Charlie is smiling about? Many illustrations are quite detailed so the young reader can put himself on the ranch and get to know all the animals and people, describing each part of each scene.

Work Hard, Play Hard – On the Ranch

And what do you think is Charlie’s favorite ball?

Previous Review: Charlie and the New Baby

Next: Hank the Cowdog

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: Charlie and the New Baby (Charlie the Ranch Dog)

Charlie and the New Baby, by Ree Drummond with wonderful illustrations by Diane deGroat (Harper, 2014, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 4-8)

First Things First

Of course you would want to read the first book first, Charlie the Ranch Dog, to your children but also, right afterwards let them “read” Charlie and the New Baby to you which is, of the five in the Charlie collection so far, the most “picture-y” of the books.

Diane deGroat does a simply marvelous job of creating illustrations that tell the story putting you in the picture, leaving almost no need for words, thus making The New Baby a good starter book for the younger set – they can tell the story themselves almost the first time!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

If your child knows and loves Charlie already, you can ask him to guess who the new baby is and what Charlie thinks of it – I bet Son or Daughter will be surprised and delighted.

I suspect that each book may be a real-life situation from the Drummond Ranch family life – each has counter-themes running through and sometimes taking over. Isn’t it amazing how daily life can be so exciting and educational to those with other daily lives?

Our amazing author, Ann Marie (“Ree”) Drummond is shown on the back cover looking much like the real Charlie (Basset Hound) with red hair, both. How she manages to blog about cooking, homeschool her brood of four, and write about a ranch neophyte (herself) and cooking and dogs, is beyond me!

I’m sure the Drummond Ranch looks just like it is depicted – idyllic, grasslands, nearly treeless – after all we are in Oklahoma!

Nose Bent out of Shape?

Children identify with Charlie (and all the kids that belong to him). Charlie has his favorite foods, his favorite activities and he even gets bent out of shape for a while with this new baby. But love comes to the rescue.

The Charlie book with more of a lesson than the others perhaps, The New Baby still is a fun read for kids of all ages.

NextCharlie Plays Ball, the final Charlie book (so far)

PreviousCharlie Goes to School

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Book Review: Charlie Goes to School (ranch dog)

Charlie Goes to School, by Ree Drummond with illustrations by Diane deGroat (Harper, 2013, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 4-8)

Riddle of the Day

Charlie goes to school but doesn’t go to school. Why not? What two schools are shown in this Charlie book?

These are questions to ask your child after reading this Charlie book.

Once again, Ann Marie (“Ree”) Drummond has given children and their parents a wonderful look into ranch life plus the ranch life of a real ranch dog, Charlie.

Who is Charlie?

Charlie the ranch dog has long ears and short legs, a combination that works well for this supervising, ‘lovably lazy,’ working ranch dog who is adept at napping and eating bacon.

You will smile as your child reads this book to you and explains the wealth of information in each Diane deGroat lovely and realistic illustration of western life: horses and cows, porches and barns, grasslands and Kitty Kitty.

Charlie Goes to School, like the other Charlie books, is one that you will keep as your child discovers new things each time he reads it - and you will keep it to read when you need just a lovely short story. (By the way, Drummond’s book, The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels – A Love Story is the story of Drummond herself for adults, the story of a surgeon’s daughter turned sorority girl turned working ranch homeschool teacher to her four children and dog author and cooking blogger and . . . . )

Don’t blame DogEvals if your daughter wants to vacation on an Oklahoma working ranch that has a dog or two, and an indoor chipmunk!

Next: Charlie and the New Baby

Previous: Charlie and the Christmas Kitty