By Greg Clark, June 26, 1948
Even a big and fighting Airedale can be licked by an irate lady, Jim and Greg find
“That dang Airedale!” barked Jimmie Frise.
“Fighting again?” I inquired.
“No: he jumped the fence,” growled Jim, “and scratched and kicked our zinnia bed all to pieces.”
“Aw, at this time of year, Jim,” I soothed, “all dogs are pretty frisky. Maybe it was some other…”
“No, no, the family saw him,” snorted Jim. “He just jumped the fence, glanced around the garden and saw the zinnia bed all nicely laid out. He jumped right into the middle of it and started scratching and kicking for all he was worth. Malicious damage, if ever you saw it!”
“What are you going to do? See McGillicuddy?” I asked.
“Something has got to be done,” declared Jim with finality. “That dog has become a public nuisance and a public menace.”
“McGillicuddy is very fond of that dog, Jim,” I submitted. “After all, like master, like dog. McGillicuddy is a big, rough, cheery, quarrelsome sort of guy.”
“I don’t care how big and rough he is,” snapped Jim. “I’m going up and have a showdown about that dog.”
“Look,” I reasoned. “All dogs are public nuisances and public menaces. If every dog was as tame and docile as Dolly here …”
I had Dolly on a leash out for an evening stroll. That is how I happened to walk around to Jim’s.
“Hi, Dolly!” greeted Jim.
Dolly, puffing, gave her tail a brief wag. She is a cocker spaniel, black and white. Veterinary science has condemned her to permanent spinsterhood. She used to have too much coat, so we clipped her. That made her coat grow into fur. Now she is as broad as she is long, round as a bolster and finds life pretty heavy going. But she is the gentlest, mildest, least playful little spinster in the world.
“Dolly is at least a lady,” said Jim. “I don’t suppose she ever did a mischievous thing in her life.”
“Oh, yes, when she was a pup, she chewed up slippers and things,” I admitted.
“I suppose,” said Jim, “she is the only dog for five blocks around here that hasn’t been chewed up by that dang Airedale!”
“Aw, even fighting dogs don’t fight with females,” I reminded him. “That’s one thing about dogs. They know enough to leave a lady dog alone. Lady dogs can be pretty spiteful.”
“That Airedale of McGillicuddy’s,” declared Jim, “has nearly killed every dog in the neighborhood.”
“I don’t think McGillicuddy would be bothered,” I reflected, “with a dog that wasn’t the boss of the street.”
“Terrier!” said Jim, caustically. “Airedale terrier, they call it! Why, that dog weighs 50 pounds, if It weighs an ounce.”
“It’s still a terrier,” I pointed out.
“Terriers,” countered Jim, “are small, handy dogs: not moose. I bet a true terrier doesn’t weigh 10 pounds.”
“Oh, yes,” I assured him. “A fox terrier can weigh as much as 18 pounds. Maybe an Irish terrier can go as much as 25 pounds. A good 45- or 50-pound Airedale isn’t out of the way…”
“But terriers,” complained Jim, “are supposed to be rat-killers, vermin-killers. What kind of vermin could a 50-pound Airedale find to kill?”
“Don’t worry,” I said. “Airedales are used out west for hunting grizzly bears and mountain lions. They’re mighty fighters.”
“I think I’ll suggest to McGillicuddy,” said Jim acidly, “that he send his dog out to the Rockies. I’ll suggest that if he admires pugnacity, he ought to give his dog a chance, instead of letting him tear up little spaniels and house pets…”
“Aha, has he been at your Rusty again?” I exclaimed seeing the light.
“No, no,” assured Jim. “While I object to his fighting, it’s this malicious damage to gardens that has got me roused up.”
“Why don’t you report it to the police ” I suggested.
“Aw, everybody in the district,” scoffed Jim, “has reported that dog one time or another in the past year. And what happens? The cops call on McGillicuddy. He invites the cops in, and they sit around talking about he-man dogs and sissy neighbors. And then the cops come out, laughing, and waving good-bye to McGillicuddy like birds of a feather.”
At this moment, we heard barking up the street. And down came Rusty. Jim’s Sinn Fein Irish water spaniel, like a brown streak, while behind him, bellowing like a lion, came McGillicuddy’s big Airedale, Pete.
When Dolly saw them, she promptly sat down a bared her little teeth.
The two raced past, as Rusty made for the shelter of Jim’s house. Pete, suddenly distracted by Jim’s shoulder and waving arms, gave up the chase and rather indignantly paused, stared at Jim and then retreated with dignity back up toward his own house.
“See what I mean?” growled Jim fiercely. There was a fight, if Rusty hadn’t run. Did you ever see such a sullen, impudent stare as an Airedale can give you? Why, they don’t look you in the face at all. They look at your calf or your thigh or some place on your anatomy, as if cogitating whether to make a grab or not.”
“Pete’s quite a dog,” I murmured.
Rusty came out, looking a little verminous, and glanced cautiously up the street. He trotted over to greet Dolly. But she bared her little white teeth and snarled. Rusty, respectful as all dogs are to ladies backed away and ignored her.
Up the street, there was a sudden squall and yammer of dogs fighting, and down came a small black dog running for his life, with Pete, the Airedale, in large bounding pursuit.
“Awfff!” cried Jimmie, suddenly. “I’m going to deal with this business RIGHT NOW! Come on!”
“Why not write him a letter, Jim?” I suggested.
But Jim was striding up the street. I hauled Dolly to her feet and we followed.
As we neared McGillicuddy’s house, we could see him kneeling on his front steps. He was painting them. In the cool of the evening.
When we drew close, I noted that he had just finished painting his verandah, a pretty Spanish tile red, and was now starting down the steps. He had the top one done.
Pete, the Airedale, was sitting on the lawn watching his lord and master. And as we drew level and paused, Pete stood up and barked at us loudly and vulgarly, as only an Airedale can. His button eyes studied us anatomically.
“Shut up,” commanded McGillicuddy, turning around. “Hey! Hullo!”
McGillicuddy is one of those big, brindled, freckled characters, jovial and hearty, the Airedale type himself. He will be friendly or quarrelsome with you at the drop of the hat. Whichever you like. He is one of those breezy obliging type. I am rather fond of McGillicuddy; but he isn’t my near neighbor, you understand.
“Mac,” said Jim, “I’ve got to complain about Pete.”
“Shut up. Get away. Sit down!” commanded McGillicuddy, and Pete obeyed. “What’s he done now?”
“He came into our garden,” enumerated Jim, “he jumped the fence, see? And after a brief look around, he leaped square into the zinnia bed and proceeded to scratch and kick it all the pieces.”
McGillicuddy looked long and steadily at Jim, with an Airedale expression in his eyes.
“No dog,” he said. “would do such a thing!”
“But I tell you,” cried Jim with sudden heat, “the family saw him. He just jumped the fence, stood looking around a minute. And then took one leap into the zinnia bed and started scratching and kicking for all he was worth. A straight case of malicious damage!”
McGillicuddy began to get a little red in the face. His freckles stood out.
“Look!” he said, “It doesn’t make sense! Why would dog do such a thing?”
“That isn’t for me to answer,” retorted Jim. “That’s for you to answer. That darn dog of yours is a public menace. He is fighting all the time. He upsets garbage pails. And he tears up gardens.”
McGillicuddy took a long, slow breath, and took a couple of strokes with his paint brush on the top step to cool himself off.
“Now, let’s be reasonable,” he said. “Dogs are only human. You can’t expect a big, vigorous dog like Pete to sit around like a bump on a log like that silly little spaniel there.”
He indicated Dolly, who was sitting rather like a bump. I pulled the leash and got her to her feet. She panted with the effort.
“Every man,” explained McGillicuddy heartily, “to his taste in dogs. I can’t see what you see in that flop-eared Irish water spaniel you’ve got.”
“I’ve got a golden retriever too,” declared Jim with dignity. “but a farmer keeps him out in the country.”
“Every man to his fancy,” agreed McGillicuddy. “But you see, I like Airedales. I like big Airedales, big, lively, spirited dogs. Sure, he fights a little; sure, he is a little rough and rowdy. But there you are!”
“I think,” said Jim levelly, “I’ll bring my golden in to town for a few days. He’s about the size of that Airedale. He might teach Pete a little lesson.”
“Oho, is that so?” scoffed McGillicuddy, suddenly roused. “Well, mister, any old time you like…”
He stepped down off the steps.
Pete, sensing his master’s ire, leaped up and jumped toward us.
Dolly, like a flash, jerked the leash out of my hands and with a small fierce feminine snarl and her lady teeth bared viciously, made a dive for the big dog.
Without a yelp, Pete turned like lightning and bounded past McGillicuddy’s legs.
He bounded up the steps. On the wet top step he skidded. On his side and rump, he slid across the full depth of the freshly painted tile red verandah and came up with a bump against the wall. Little Dolly, fairly fizzing with rage, was right after him.
Around and around in a mad, slithering scramble, the two raced and snarled and fought, the big dog desperately trying to avoid the nasty nips the bulgy little cocker was inflicting on him. McGillicuddy bounded on to the verandah and booted them both off, I caught the leash as Dolly yipped past, and Pete, all red with paint, fled down the side drive.
“Okay,” wuffed McGillicuddy from the wrecked verandah. “Okay! You win, boys. Any dog that would run from a little wee whiffet like that thing…”
“All dogs are scared of irate ladies,” I apologized for Pete.
“To heck with it!” panted McGillicuddy. “Look at my verandah! The clumsy big oaf! Chased by a rabbit, by gosh! Okay: I’ll send him out to my brother in the country. He raises rabbits.”
“Sorry, McGillicuddy,” said Jim, with stiff lips.
“To heck with it,” growled McGillicuddy, turning to stare at the mess.
We walked back down the street, Dolly fairly staggering with exhaustion.
“Dear,” breathed Jim, when we got a few doors down, “dear little Dolly!”
And with my permission, paint and all, he picked her up and carried her.
This is Jimmie Frise’s last contribution to the Magazine. The beloved cartoonist, who brought humor to hundreds of thousands of Canadian homes, died suddenly June 13.
Editor’s Notes: As indicated by the last note in the story, this was the last published Greg-Jim story. His obituary was written by Greg in the previous week’s issue. After a week off, he returned with a story called “The Young Volunteer”, about a boy volunteering to be his new partner. Greg speaks with him suggesting that it is not that easy to find a partner.
“What kind,” he asked, as we fell in step, “of adventure do you think we could have?”
“My rule is,” I informed him, “just walk along and adventure will befall you.”
The next few weeks had stories illustrated by different artists until Duncan Macpherson became the regular artist on August 7, 1948. The new stories included fictional relatives and neighbours, and continued weekly until June 3, 1950, and then became infrequent, with Greg sometimes writing stories, and other times straight up reporting. Macpherson would eventually become a celebrated editorial cartoonist in Canada. The magazine and newspaper industry was undergoing rapid change due to changing consumer tastes and competition from television. The Montreal Standard ceased publication on August 18, 1951, and became “Weekend Picture Magazine” on September 8, 1951, and shortly after changed to “Weekend Magazine”. Greg’s stories in these publications were usually not illustrated, and were the basis for many of his books published in the 1950s and 1960s.
Weekend Magazine was distributed free of charge with 9 daily newspapers across the country in 1951. Weekend offered high-quality colour reproduction to advertisers, good photographs, feature stories and recipes to readers, and a profit-making supplement that boosted circulation for the newspaper publishers. By the 1960s Weekend Magazine was carried in 41 newspapers with a circulation over 2 million, and it was the most popular advertising vehicle in the nation. Colour television and the turn away from general-interest periodicals hurt the magazine, and it got thinner each year. By 1979 it had been merged with The Canadian, and in 1982 Today, the successor supplement, ceased publication.