Spunky Tells All is a book by Ann Cameron, not a gossip column. Spunky is an articulate, astute and terribly funny dog who lives with his family, the Bates. Spunky has become my new literary hero. If you care nothing about dogs, pets or children’s fiction, please skip this post and go read something more dour. I have nothing but quotes and a strong recommendation that you procure this book and immediately improve your mental-emotional well being. You will thank me.
This is Spunky. (image: ©Lauren Castillo found here)
Spunky speaks truth to power:
I sat up tall. I gave them a talk – the best talk I ever gave in my life.
I said: “Listen! I am a Dog. I will always be a Dog, so don’t laugh. You, Mr. Bates, Mrs. Bates, Julian, and Huey, you are Humans and will always be who you are, too. Sometimes other Humans will laugh at you. That, I have noticed, is one thing Humans do: they laugh at each other.
“But a Dog will never laugh at a Human for being Human. That is why you love us. That is why you trust us. That is why you call us Man’s Best Friend. Still, when we behave like Dogs because we are Dogs and cannot help being Dogs, you laugh.
“Is that fair???????????”
That was the end of my speech. I put a lot of question marks on the last word, with both my ears and tail.
They only understood the question marks. (p. 6-7)
He shines a light on the irrationality of Human behavior:
In spring I feel frisky, like a young pup. I want to romp. I want to play with my boy. Often he will not go outside. He won’t throw a ball to me. He won’t throw a stick so I can chase it. He won’t pet me. I lick him. He says, “Spunky, go away. I have homework.”
What is homework? Why is homework? I do not know. For thousands of years, we Dogs have passed on to new generations the knowledge of how to survive and enjoy life. We overcame many difficult times and have populated the entire world with the great race of Dogs.
In all our many thousand years, not one of us have ever needed homework. What use is it? (p.21)
Oh, if only we could see ourselves with Spunky’s clarity.
Julian shrugged. Huey copied him and shrugged, too.
We Dogs don’t shrug. We think it is a big mistake to be a species that shrugs. “Whatever!” is usually what a Human shrug means. A dangerous word. If you want to survive, you must pay attention to what’s coming down the road straight at you and say Yes! to it , or No! to it, but never “Whatever.” (p. 43)
I may never shrug again.
Thanks to Spunky, I dare set aside my serious pedagogical pursuits and pause to appreciate the conundrums of life. He shares,
I am very sorry for Humans, really. Not only because they cannot speak Dog. Even worse: they have such big noses yet get such little use out of them. Why? What really is the point?
You will say, Who is Spunky to question the way the universe is arranged? Who is Spunky to criticize?
I don’t criticize. I don’t. I just wonder. I humbly contemplate. I reflect. Sometimes I ask my departed ancestors about this, trying to reach their Sky Spirits with these questions:
Why are Humans and Dogs so different? Why are things as they are?
So far, I have received no answers. (p. 56)
Alas, dear Spunky, you are not alone in your quest to comprehend the great mysteries of our planetary existence. I’m right there with you.
Spunky Tells All by Ann Cameron, R R Donnelly & Sons Co., Crawfordsville, IN. 2011.