This is another illustration by Jim for a story by Merrill Denison after he moved to New York to work on Broadway, that features his dog Boo Boo.
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.
By Greg Clark, May 29, 1937
“I see by the papers,” said Jimmie Frise, “that there are 15,000,000 dogs in North America.”
“It seems a pretty conservative estimate,” I commented.
“I was going to say,” said Jim, “that there were 15,000,000 dogs in Toronto. Maybe that’s a little high. But did you ever in all your life see so many dogs around as there are nowadays?”
“The country,” I admitted, “is really going to the dogs.”
“The less able the world is to keep dogs,” said Jim, “the more the fashion grows. In more spacious days, when there were no motor cars and every home had some ground around it, I could understand everybody keeping a dog. But under modern conditions It seems to me keeping a dog should be a privilege accorded only those who are qualified. And the qualifications should be enough ground around the home for the dog to play in without risking his life and limb on the trafficky streets. And the other and more Important qualification should be that the dog owner would have enough intelligence to control and master his dog.”
“Well, we’d qualify,” I agreed. “I must say your old Rusty has almost a human intelligence. And as for my Dolly, she is practically a member of the family.”
“We’ve taken the trouble,” explained Jim. “to train and educate our dogs. Rusty and Dolly are, you might say, modernized dogs. But some of these wild animals that gang up and rove this neighborhood are not only a nuisance but a menace. Here I am putting in my garden for the next couple of nights. Now, Rusty is trained. He knows what a garden is. He never runs on the borders or tramples the young plants. You never catch Rusty digging up the garden or messing about the bushes.”
“Dolly’s the same,” I said. “In fact, I have seen her chasing other dogs out of our garden. Many’s the time last summer I have watched Dolly walking about the garden looking at the flowers just as if she were human being and enjoying them exactly as a human being.”
“Yesterday,” said Jim. “I happened to look out the back window and what did I see? Three of those mutts of the neighborhood, two half-breed collies and a wire-haired terrier, actually burying bones in my perennial borders.”
“Couldn’t you train Rusty to be a policeman?” I asked.
“He wasn’t around,” said Jim, “or he’d have soon had those tramps out of there.”
“I’d say,” I said, “that most of the people in our neighborhood keep dogs by force of habit. They apparently take no pleasure out of them, as we do in Rusty and Dolly. They let them out in the morning, probably giving them kick as they go, and they let them in at night. And for the rest of the day, those dogs just run at large, upsetting garbage pails, scaring the wits out of motorists by dashing recklessly all over the streets, digging in gardens, wrecking ornamental shrubs and generally being public nuisances.”
“It looks like it,” agreed Jim. “Something will have to be done.”
“Now there’s that apartment house along the street,” I reminded him. “I was counting the dogs in it. There are eight families in that house, and I’ll be jiggered if there aren’t nine dogs. One family has two of those bugeyes Pekes.”
On Other People’s Property
“That apartment house,” stated Jim, “has no yard at all. It has a concrete area at the back entirely filled with garages. It has no front lawn to speak of. Where do those nine dogs run?”
“On other people’s property,” I declared.
“Exactly,” said Jim.
“We certainly ought to do something about it,” I asserted. “And we, as dog owners and dog lovers, can’t be accused of being prejudiced against dogs either. I am one of the first to get my dander up when any of these anti-dog people begin their annual uproar about dogs running at large in the city. It is usually about now, when people are putting in their gardens, that the rumpus begins. But there is reason and moderation in all things, including dogs.”
“All I expect of other people,” agreed Jim, “is that they control their dogs the same way I do.”
“That’s it,” I supported. “Let that be our slogan. And if we dog owners start the agitation, it will go a long way further than if these anti-dog people try to do anything.”
“I can’t understand a man or a woman not having a dog,” said Jim. “If I were going to start a political party or a new religion or something, I would take a census of the homes of the city, and where there was a dog, that home I’d invite in.”
“I doubt if there ever was a villain who owned a dog,” I agreed.
“No food and no love is wasted in a house where there is a dog,” declared Jim. “It gets what is left over of both. You can tell all about a home by the dog.”
And with this kindly thought we went to our appointed tasks for the afternoon.
After supper, seeing Jim in his garden south of mine, and I not being quite ready to plant my annuals, as I like the garden to be best in September rather than July when all my family are away, I strolled down to watch him, Dolly joining me.
Jim had the little boxes of petunias and zinnias all laid out ready to be planted, the crimson nicotine and verbenas, the sweet william and orange flare cosmos. I helped him carry the little boxes of plantlings and distribute them around the borders where they would variously go. Old Rusty and Dolly solemnly accompanied us as we moved here and there.
“Look at them,” said Jim, fondly. “See how intelligently they watch us. They know what we are doing. They are interested. I bet they even realize that presently, as the result of this work of ours, the garden will glow and smother with flowers and sweet scents.”
With tongues out, the two sat, a little stoutly, maybe, a little over-fed, most amiably following us.
“No silly romping,” I pointed out. “No nonsense. There’s dogs, Jim.”
And we proceeded to set the plants, Jim scooping the holes with his trowel and I breaking out the seedlings with blocks of earth from the basket complete. We petted them down. Nasturtiums, marigolds, mourning bride, lantana. Clarkia in clumps because it is stringy, verbenas well separated because with their multi-colored stars they will reach and spread. The best part of May is the end where we plant the annuals.
To sort out some weeds that Jim bought to eke out the foot of his garden, such as sunflowers and some coarse climbing nasturtiums for along the fence, we went indoors and down to Jim’s cellar billiard room, and we had hardly been there a minute before Jim, glancing out the cellar window, let forth a wild bellow.
Rusty and Dolly had wandered off when we had come indoors, and as we reached the back door, there were no fewer than seven dogs holding a kind of canine gymkhana in the garden.
“Hyaaah,” roared Jimmie, hurling a flower pot at them.
There was a red setter, a police dog, a scrub collie, a wire-haired terrier, a goggle-eyed Boston bull, a Scotty, and big over-grown Springer spaniel, weighing about sixty pounds, a kind of a mattress of a dog, brown and white.
They were racing in circles, trampling all over the newly planted seedings, ducking around perennials just decently leafing out of the earth, plunging through spiraea…
“Hyaaaaaah,” we roared, charging into the yard.
All but the Springer spaniel, without so much as letting on they saw us, raced out of the back gate and down the street, like a gang of panting, laughing hoodlums.
The Springer, with a look of interest, was braced in behind Jim’s loveliest Japonica bush, watching us with rigid tail and cocked head.
“You!” said Jim, advancing cautiously.
“Easy, Jim,” I warned. “Get behind him and chase him out.”
“I’ll catch him,” said Jim. “and deliver him to his owner.”
“He may be cross,” I warned.
But the Springer spaniel, all feathers and wool and burly good nature, was far from cross. He was for play.
With a slithering, dirt-flinging spring, he wheeled and raced along the wire fence, every bound crashing him heavily on to some little cluster of freshly set and fragile plantlings.
“Hyaaahh,” we roared at him.
With a skid and a slither, he would halt and watch us, tail wagging frantically and mouth agape in a wide grin of joy.
“Don’t try to catch him,” I said, “he thinks we’re playing.”
“I’ll show him if we’re playing,” gritted Jim.
He advanced, half crouched.
The Springer, with an ecstatic slither, was off again, crashing through a bed of Darwin tulips with his whole sixty pounds and plunging into a young spiraea bush as if to play hide and seek.
“Aw,” moaned Jim terribly.
“Shoo him out, shoo him out,” I yelled. “He’ll romp in here all night, if you let him.”
“Rusty, Rusty,” roared Jimmie into the evening.
“Hyuh, Dolly, hyuh, hyuh,” I cried, “sick ‘im.”
But Rusty and Dolly were absent at the one time we needed them.
“Here, help corner him,” commanded Jim. “You come along that way and I’ll come this way and we’ll corner him by the house.”
So we slowly converged.
The Springer waited, with sly, joyous eyes, until we were almost on him before, with a plunge that flattened the spiraea and carried him horribly on top of the whole cluster of long slender orange fare cosmos plantlings, he burst the blockade and tore across to the opposite border of the garden and took refuge, playfully, behind a perennial phlox that, in another month, is the wonder of the whole district, so gorgeous a magenta is it, with its hundred blooms.
“Oooooh,” moaned Jim, “if he crushes that!”
“Throw something at him,” I insisted. “Make him get out.”
“Now I’m determined,” declared Jim gratingly, “to catch him and deliver him.”
“Very well, then,” I decreed, “Shut the gate.”
So while Jim shut the gate, I picked up a few odds and ends, the trowel, a couple of flower pots and a garden stake. And with these as ammunition, I drove the astonished Springer into the corner by the house while Jim charged in and grabbed him.
He struggled furiously and then angrily, growling and snarling.
“Get the rug out of the car,” panted Jimmie, wrapping himself around the astonished and frightened dog.
I nipped over and snatched the car rug and brought it. Jim managed to roll the big spaniel in it, leaving only his head out.
We straightened ourselves up and dusted off.
“There,” gasped Jim. “Now, Mister Springer, I know where you live.”
“What will you say?” I asked, “Better get it planned so you won’t just arrive in a temper and say worse than nothing.”
“I’ll simply say, ‘Sir’,” said Jim, “here is your dog. It came into my garden and trampled all over my newly planted seedlings. It plunged through my tulips and bushes and crushed my perennial phlox. I do not blame the dog. I blame the owner of the dog who has not taught it to behave and to respect gardens.”
“Then what?” I asked.
“I’ll hand him his dog,” said Jim “and warn him that if the dog damages my garden again, I will take steps that will astonish him.”
“Let’s go,” I said, because the big Springer was patiently struggling within the folds of the car rug and I was afraid he might work free.
Jim carried the extraordinary bundle down the street. The owner lived about eight doors south.
“Ring the front door,” said Jim. “We’ll make no back door peddling of this.”
I rang. I rang twice. I rapped.
“They’re out, I guess,” I guessed.
“Maybe they’re in the yard,” said Jim, starting around.
In the yard, on the clothes line, some sort of chintz curtain was hanging. My Dolly, sweetest and gentlest of dogs, was clinging to one corner of the curtain, taking little runs and a swing, and chewing and growling secretly and furiously with the fun.
Fair in the middle of the yard, in a bed of resplendent parrot tulips, elderly and amiable Rusty, most intelligent of all the dogs I ever knew, had all but vanished down an enormous hole he had dug, just his hind quarters and tail showing until Jim’s shout brought him backing out to look, with easy innocence, over his shoulder.
“Jim,” I said low, “drop that dog and let’s sneak.”
The kitchen window of the house next door squealed suddenly open and a red-faced lady put her head out.
“What are you doing with that dog in the blanket?” she demanded chokingly. “I’ll tell Mr. Hooper on you. The very idea. And look what those brutes are doing to his garden and to Mrs. Hooper’s chintz.”
Jim unrolled the Springer and he landed heavily and ran straight for Rusty, his hackles up.
“Those two creatures,” shouted the lady above the racket that Rusty and Dolly were making in a fight with the Springer, “are the worst nuisances in the entire neighborhood. And yet I catch you in the act of trying smother the loveliest, kindest dog in the whole city.”
Jim and I withdrew up the side drive and then turned and called Rusty and Dolly. They came, being glad to leave the Springer who was beginning to get rough.
We hastened up the street, the Springer pursuing us with hoarse and angry barks.
“It’s always the other fellow’s dog,” reflected Jim.
“And to somebody, I suppose,” I said, “we are always the other fellow. Should I let those people know who chewed the chintz?”
“No,” said Jim, as we turned into Jim’s yard. “The Springer will get the blame and it will all even up in the long run. He deserves the blame to make up for what damage he has done elsewhere.”
“These two,” I said, “never get any blame around here.”
“Oh, well,” said Jim, starting to walk along the borders to re-pet up all the little seedlings, “they behave around home. What more can you ask?”
So Rusty and Dolly, their tongues hanging out, followed us along, sitting down behind us to watch the job and getting up to follow whenever we moved five feet, and we rubbed their towsled heads and scratched their eternally itchy chins, and they looked up at us with half-closed eyes of adoration and perfect understanding.
Editor’s Notes: Pet ownership was not really that common until the rise of the middle class in the 19th century. You can see how things have changed, even since the time of the article in 1937. It was not unusual for dogs to roam free, even in a city. Children were warned to be wary of packs of dogs. Picking up dog poop was not a concern until legislation started in the 1980s. Even the concept of packaged dog food did not exist. Dogs were expected to just eat the scraps of the family meals. Canned dog food was only invented in 1922, and dry kibble was not invented until 1956.
A gymkhana is an Indian term which originally referred to a place of assembly.
This is an illustration by Jim for a story by Merrill Denison, who he often illustrated for in the pre-Greg-Jim era of the early 1930s. Denison moved to New York to become a playwright and would still occasionally publish a story in the Star Weekly, usually about his dog, Boo Boo.
By Greg Clark, December 26, 1942
“Do you want my share,” inquired Jimmie Frise cautiously, “of the Duchess?”
“Jim,” I replied craftily, “I will very gladly surrender to you any claim I may have on the Duchess. Two men can’t successfully share a dog.”
“Look,” said Jim. “You take her. You’ve only got that one little house dog, Dolly. I’ve got old Rusty for a house dog, and now, on the very eve of Christmas, I learn I am to get a beagle pup for my Christmas present.”
“Unless you live in the country,” I ruled, “two dogs is too many. My family would never let me keep the Duchess in addition to Dolly.”
“A lovelier English setter never breathed than the Duchess,” said Jim. “Besides, being a lady, she would make a perfect companion for your Dolly, who is getting old.
“Jim,” I said, “we made a great mistake, right at the start, in trying to deceive our families about who owns the Duchess. We agreed to keep her, week about; I telling my family she was your dog; and you telling your family she was my dog; and all we were doing was helping the other fellow out for a few days, by keeping her. The Duchess has only been a guest in our houses, Jim. The minute I try to put over the fact that she is a member of the family, there will be a row.”
“My family adores her,” submitted Jim. “But she sheds her hair. It’s all over the carpets, the chesterfields.”
“My family,” I confessed, “envies you the ownership of the Duchess. But there is an awful difference between having a guest in the house and making a stranger a member of the family. It is the same problem, for example, as choosing a daughter-in-law. The boys bring some awfully cute kids to the house. But when I look at some of them as permanent fixtures… I dunno!”
“Look,” pleaded Jimmie. “I’m getting one of Andy’s new litter of beagles. I’ve wanted a beagle all my life. Old Rusty is getting on in years. He has never been worth his salt as an Irish water spaniel. He’s terrified of water. And every time he sees a duck, dead or alive, he goes and crawls under the back kitchen. But a beagle… there’s the dog for the city sportsman! You can hunt rabbits almost on the edge of the city limits.”
“Aw, Jim,” I protested. “Don’t you remember the way we talked before we bought the Duchess? Last September? The greatest dog in the world was an English setter.”
“Well,” explained Jim, “in September, the pheasant season and the partridge season was just ahead…”
“A couple of weeks of shooting,” I snorted. “Out of the whole year. And how many days did we get off to shoot? Two. Yet we spent five bucks each on the purchase of a setter. And she turned out to be a lemon. And now she is a burden not only on our hands but on our consciences.”
“I Couldn’t Shoot Her”
“Boy, was she ever a lemon,” mused Jimmie. “When we bought her, I thought I had never seen a more perfect bird dog. She certainly looked as if she had been trained.”
“But out in the field,” I remembered, “she was just about as useful as a dachshund.”
“What could you expect,” said Jim, “for 10 bucks? Imagine two guys like us thinking we could buy a bird dog for five bucks each!”
“Well, as the fellow said when he brought her around to your house,” I reminded him, “the war has depreciated the value of sporting dogs. Only a few old guys like us can do any shooting now, and mighty little at that.”
“What we should have done,” said Jim. “was rent the Duchess from him. We could have paid five bucks each for two weeks’ rent of her.”
“Okay, then,” I exclaimed “why not take her back to him and give her to him. That’s one way of getting rid of her.”
“I’ve thought of that already,” replied Jim. “I went to the address he signed on the receipt, and there is nobody of that name living there. They’ve never heard of the guy.”
“That’s odd,” I suggested. “But isn’t there somebody else we could give her to?”
“Who wants a bird dog at this season of the year?” demanded Jim. “And besides, all our friends know she is no good. We made the mistake of yelling about what a lemon the Duchess is. If we had kept our mouths shut, we might have sold the Duchess to some real dog lover for a little profit on our 10 bucks.”
“She’s a beautiful beast,” I pondered, “but she’s utterly useless. Did you ever see a setter act so crazy in the field?”
“I never did,” said Jim. “Instead of birds, she seemed to be hunting for people. When we let her out of the car, instead of dashing out to find a pheasant, she visited every other human being she saw, and left each one sadly, as if she were looking for her master. It took us all morning merely to round her up. That’s no way to waste your time on one of the few hunting days we have now.”
“I was tempted to shoot her,” I submitted. “A real dog fancier has no sentiment about him. If a dog won’t work, he shoots it. But I’m a sentimentalist. I couldn’t shoot the Duchess. I couldn’t even speak crossly to her. She’s a lady.”
“Lady is right,” said Jim. “My family is crazy about her. Whenever it is my week to keep her, the family all says: ‘Aw, dad, why don’t you buy her from Mr. Clark.’ Is my face red?”
“Well, if it weren’t for the fact that we have one dog already,” I mused.
“Well, I can’t keep her, either,” declared Jim firmly. “I have it on the best authority that I am getting a beagle pup, six weeks old, and that is going to be all the dog the family will go for around our house, along with old Rusty.”
“There is only one way,” I stated, “to get rid of a no-good bird dog. It is a method well known to all dog lovers.”
“And what’s that?” inquired Jim.
“You put an ad in the paper,” I elucidated, “like this:
Found – Beautiful English setter, female, white with blue and brown markings. Appears well trained. Owner can claim by paying for ad and small amount for keep.”
“Ah,” smiled Jimmie. “Small amount for keep.”
“About 10 bucks,” I suggested.
“Five bucks each,” mused Jimmie. “But who will claim her?”
“The first crook who reads the ad,” I cried triumphantly. “There are guys who love bird dogs and who at the same time are as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. The minute one of them sees that ad, he will come rushing up here and take one look at the Duchess and rush up to her and fall on his knees and make an awful fuss over her. Of course the Duchess will respond. She’s a lady. And he will leap up and thank us a million. And 10 bucks to him will be a mere flea bite.”
“Owner Can Claim”
“Why should a crook pay 10 dollars for a bird dog at this season of the year,” demanded Jimmie, “when we couldn’t get an honest man to take her as a gift?
“It’s just the way of men,” I explained. “A man who is a little crooked will get more kick out of getting something by skullduggery than if he had the dog given to him.”
“We could try it,” muttered Jim.
“We’ll split the cost of the ad?” I suggested.
“You pay it,” said Jim, “and deduct my share from what the guy pays us.”
So it was with a good deal of pleasure I inserted an ad in the final edition of the paper so that Jim and I would both be home for the arrival of our victim.
“After all,” I said to Jim, “he will be getting a good dog. And the Duchess will be getting a good home, which is all we are worried about. We say she appears well trained. And the Duchess certainly does appear well trained.”
“Go ahead,” said Jim doubtfully.
I inserted the ad as outlined. “Found: Beautiful English setter, female, appears trained, white with brown and blue ticking, owner can claim after paying cost of ad and small expenses re keep.”
And Jim and I hurried home a little ahead of the 5 o’clock jam to wait. For, if my prescription for getting rid of a no-good bird dog was to work, the man who answered the ad would be up at the house hotfoot ahead of any possible competitors.
We had hardly got our coats off before there was a loud ring of the bell.
And the Duchess, who was reclining like a queen on the chesterfield, leaped up with a loud and joyous bark.
Jim opened the door to a heavy built and eager looking gentleman who, the minute he saw the Duchess let out a wild yell and the Duchess, like a lady swooning, fairly fell into his arms.
We urged the two of them to come in and shut the door.
“Daisy, Daisy,” crooned the stranger, tears flowing down his cheeks, and the Duchess blind with the light of love, emitted an endless series of little whimpers that was enough to make anybody weep.
“Where,” demanded the stranger, from his knees, “did you find her?”
“Er… aw … wuh…” said Jimmie.
The stranger rose to his feet and swelled himself up.
“Where,” he said slowly, “did you find her?”
Jimmie looked at me and I looked at Jimmie.
“Come, come,” said the stranger loudly. “I ask you, where did you find her? This is Daisy of Thermopylae, dual international champion, field and bench. She cost me $600. And she was stolen from my kennels on September 16.”
“Well, well, well,” I said, with profound interest.
“May I, inquire,” said the stranger, advancing on me and towering himself up, “where you found her? Your ad says you found her. Okay. Where did you find her?”
There was no use in trying to equivocate.
“Sir,” I said humbly, “we did not find her. We bought her, about September the 18th last for $10.”
The stranger staggered.
“For … 10 … dollars,” he whispered, reaching down and fondling the fine domed head of the Duchess, or Daisy.
Then he drew himself up again.
“You bought her, eh?” he gritted. “On the very eve of the bird season, she is stolen from my kennels. I have not only missed the pleasure of shooting over the finest bird dog that ever was sired, but I have missed two important shows and one field trial of the utmost importance, in the States. To me, the loss of Daisy of Thermopylae is a matter of dollars and cents. I have been robbed. Therefore, I propose to deal with the matter in forceful manner. I am going to hand you over to the police.”
“Hold on, there, mister,” interposed Jimmie who is bigger than I am, “just a minute. We bought that dog in good faith.”
“Who from?” inquired the stranger grimly.
“Aw,” said Jim, remembering that he had been unable to trace the man from whom we bought the dog.
“We have a receipt,” I cut in. “A signed receipt.”
“For $10,” sneered the stranger. “Show it to me.”
“As a matter of fact,” confessed Jim, “we went to find this man who gave us a receipt and there is no such man at the address.”
“A fine cock and bull story,” yelled the stranger. “You put an ad in the paper saying you found the dog. And when I claim my dog, you admit you bought her, away back in September, for $10. My fine friends, you can tell all this to the judge. Maybe he’ll listen. But I won’t.”
“Excuse me,” I put in. “Will you listen to a simple story of what has happened? All you’ve got to do is look at the Duchess – or Daisy as you can call her – to see she has been well cared for. Have you to sense of gratitude for that? Suppose some cruel person had had her all this time…”
The stranger looked down at Daisy and immediately knelt down and petted her and felt her ribs and took her head in his hands and nuzzled at her in the curious love that men and dogs can share.
Crazy to Get Daisy
“And furthermore,” suddenly announced Jim, you haven’t satisfactorily identified her. How do we know you aren’t some faker, just making a fuss over the dog?
“I can produce a thousand witnesses,” declared the stranger, hotly, “to prove this is Daisy of Thermopylae.”
“Very good, produce them,” said Jim harshly.
“Look here, gentlemen,” said the stranger, changing his tone. “I’m so crazy to get Daisy back that I’ll forget all about the funny angles of the case if you’ll just let me quietly depart with her.”
“That’s better,” said Jim.
“On the other hand,” said the stranger, rising and buttoning his overcoat, “I do not feel under any obligation to pay you for Daisy’s keep nor even for the advertisement. You were harboring stolen property.”
“Not wittingly,” I put in.
“You did not know the vendor,” declared the stranger, “you bought the dog, at an absurd price – if you know anything about dogs – and you should at least have established the bona fides and title of ownership of this thief you bought her from.”
“All dog sellers look funny,” I submitted.
“Furthermore,” accused the stranger “when you tried to get in touch with that person later, you could not find him at the address he gave. Your suspicions should have been aroused at once.”
“I always thought there was something funny about the Duchess,” said Jimmie. “But the funniest thing about her is the way she behaves in the field. If she is a field champion then I’m a Mexican hairless.”
“Then I can produce documentary evidence,” smiled the stranger, “that you are a Mexican hairless. For this lady is one of the greatest bird dogs in the world.”
“She wouldn’t hunt for us,” I stated.
“Is it any wonder?” inquired the stranger, showing his teeth.
So we stood silently looking at each other while the Duchess tried to climb her lovely and lithe length into the stranger’s overcoat pocket, so desperate was she to be off and away with him, back to heaven somewhere.
“I tell you what I’ll do,” said the stranger at length. “I’ll pay the cost of the ad. But I’ll be hanged if I will pay you anything for her keep. That goes against the grain.”
“It has been a great pleasure and privilege,” said Jimmie, “to have had this lady as our guest for a few weeks.”
“Ah, then,” said the stranger, “I’ll pay $10 into any charity you gentlemen care to mention.”
“The Santa Claus Fund,” cried Jimmie and I both together.
Editor’s Note: The Santa Claus Fund is a charity that is run by the Toronto Star for children at Christmas. It still exists today.
This is an illustration by Jim for a Merrill Denison story. Jim used to regularly illustrate Merrill’s work when he was a regular writer for the Star Weekly. By the mid 1930s, he had moved to New York to write for plays, but would occasionally write another story for the Star Weekly, which usually starred his wife and dog.
One of the illustrations Jim provided for a Merrill Denison story. A former regular contributor to the Star Weekly, Denison had moved to New York by 1935 to write for Broadway plays, but still contributed infrequently. This was a story about squirrels invading his house and chewing on wood.
By Greg Clark, March 22, 1947
“Hey, get out of here!” yelled Jimmie Frise:
He was speaking to his so-called Irish water spaniel, Rusty, who had just romped into the living room.
“Aw,” moaned Jim loudly, “just look at that MUD!”
Rusty’s sprawled paws were soppy with liquid mud. He left large loose footprints on the rug and on the hardwood floor as he tucked in his tail and retreated to the kitchen.
“At this season of the year, Jim,” I announced with sweet reasonableness, “you have to put up with a certain amount of dirt tracked in…”
Jim was up, swiping up the muddy footprints with his handkerchief. He followed Rusty to the kitchen and let out a wail.
“Just look here!” He shouted for me. “Just look at this linoleum.”
I went to the kitchen and it certainly was a mess. Rusty had apparently succeeded in pawing the kitchen door open and had brought in about a pint of lovely liquid goo from the melting back yard. He had tracked it all over the kitchen, as though trying to leave no square foot undecorated.
“Here, you!” commanded Jim angrily jerking the back door open. “Git!”
And Rusty, all abject, hustled out into the mucky garden.
“He’ll only pick up more,” I pointed out cheerily.
“What do other people, do?” enquired Jim helplessly, as he took the mop from the broom closet and started to mop up. “Nearly every home in the nation has a dog. What do they do when the spring break-up comes? Is every home in Canada mucked up like this?”
“I suppose so,” I agreed. “From late March until well into May, the average back yard or garden in this country is more or less liquid mud. Dogs will be dogs. You can’t keep a dog shut up for two solid months…”
“Well, if you can train a dog to sit up and beg,” demanded Jim grimly, “why can’t you train a dog to wipe its feet before it comes in the house!”
“I suppose some people have,” I supposed.
“That Rusty,” muttered Jim, looking out the kitchen window. “The most intelligent dog I ever owned. Understands every word I utter. Sits with me in the duck blind, in the autumn, and comprehends the whole game of duck shooting as well as I do. Lies like a rock until I shoot and give the command to retrieve. Up like a shot, into the water and locates the duck with almost human intelligence. And then … does a thing like this!”
He resumed his mopping fretfully.
“Jim,” I philosophized mildly, “this just gives you some idea of what the womenfolk of this country are up against, year in, year out. Just because your wife and family happen to be out this afternoon, you’re getting a little insight into what goes on here in your kitchen every day from now until the summer comes. Mopping, mopping, mopping.”
“I suppose,” said Jim reflectively resting on his mop.
“It stands to reason,” I pointed out. “Rusty goes out every day, doesn’t he? Several times a day? Yes? And every time he goes out, he romps around the muddy streets or the muddy garden, and tracks in…”
“I guess,” said Jim, “we don’t realize just what our wives really do. We’re so used to them busy about the house, vacuuming, sweeping, dusting – we never notice what it is that makes all the dirt until we happen to see Rusty, there, come bounding in onto the living room rug–“
“Heading straight for the chesterfield,” I reminded.
“He’d have been on the chesterfield in a second,” agreed Jim, “if I hadn’t yelled at him.”
Jim looked out of the window again.
“Just look at that fat-head!” cried Jim. “Look at him deliberately stamping in that liquid mud!”
“Listen,” I pleaded. “If you were a dog, wouldn’t you delight in the first signs of spring? That mud along that flower bed, Jim, is the first touch of spring for Rusty. After running around on the snow and ice all winter, in his bare feet, I bet that nice soft mud feels heavenly to him.”
“Well, he’s certainly not going to get back here in this house!” declared Jim indignantly, as he gave the kitchen linoleum a final flourish with the mop. “When I think of all the years I’ve let that darn dog, and all his predecessors, ladle mud all over the place …”
“Aw, the womenfolk are used to it,” I reasoned.
“Used to it!” cried Jim hotly. “Why, I blush all over the way I’ve behaved towards my wife and daughters. Never giving them a thought. Allowing that mutt Rusty to slather mud all over the place … Do you know what I’m going to do?”
“Send Rusty away to the country for March and April?” I suggested.
“No, sir,” asserted Jim, slamming the mop back into the broom closet. “No, sir! I’m going to TRAIN that dog to wipe his feet.”
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, Jim,” I warned.
“Rusty,” stated Jim, “has got almost as much intelligence as you or I have. I’m going to start training him right now. I’m going to set a little baking pan of clean water out there on the back steps, I’m going to teach him to dip his paws, one after the other, in the water. Then — just inside the kitchen door — I’m going to lay some newspapers on the floor. And I’ll teach him to stand with his freshly dipped paws, onto the newspaper, scrape them on the paper to dry them…”
“Aw, Jim,” I protested, “poor old Rusty could never do that.”
“Haven’t you seen him,” interrupted Jimmie, last summer, scratching his feet energetically on the ground. Making the dirt fly? Every dog does that. Well, all I’m going to do is teach him to scratch like that on newspapers when he comes into the house.”
“I’ve got a far simpler idea, Jim,” supposed I, leading back into the living room. “An idea that has been staring us all in the face for centuries. An idea in fact, that has already occurred to plenty of dog owners — though not for cleanliness.”
“What’s that?” enquired Jim.
“Boots,” I said.
“Boots?” exclaimed Jim. “Dog boots?”
“Certainly,” I assured him. “Dog boots. I’ve often seen them in sporting goods stores. Little leather boots that lace up like a figure-skating boot do. Hunters use them on setters, pointers and hounds, when the dog’s feet get tender after too much running.”
“Well, I’ll be …!” said Jim.
“You’ve seen them?” I said. “Sure! They’re an every day thing for gun dogs. And why all the rest of us dog lovers, who have to keep dogs in city houses, haven’t tumbled to these dog boots long ago, I can’t figure out.”
“Why, how simple!” cried Jim.” Before you let your dog out on a muddy day, you just slip these little leather boots on him. He’ll soon get used to them. He’ll soon learn that he has to have his mud boots on certain kinds of muddy days. Why, it’s a brain wave. Where do you suppose we could get a set of them?”
I got up and went straight to the phone. I called two or three sporting goods stores. Yes. They had heard of dog boots. Oh, yes, in fact, a few years ago, they had had a few sets in stock. But they hadn’t seen any for some years, not since the start of the war, in fact.
“Order some, order some!” called Jim.
So I ordered a set, whenever they came on the market again, the right size for a dog its owner believed to be an Irish water spaniel.
“Well, well, well,” I said, resuming my easy chair. “Think of that!”
“Think,” protested Jim, “of all the women of this country, and what a saving it would be if every dog was trained to stop, before going out on a wet or muddy day, to have its boots put on!”
“From what I know of women,” I remarked, “I think they would prefer to do a little mopping than to have to be stooping down, every little while, to adjust four boots on a dog.”
“Greg,” said Jim seriously, “it’s about time we men began doing a little thinking about how our womenfolk have to slave and toil, over these trifling LITTLE things…”
“Personally,” I submitted, “I think it is safer for men to leave the domestic problems where they belong. It’s usually fatal to interfere.”
“This isn’t interfering,” exploded Jim. “It’s offering to the womenfolk of the world the benefit of the manly imagination, the masculine purpose and drive…”
“Mmm-mmm!” I disagreed.
Jim sat thinking. He suddenly clapped his hands.
“I’ve got it!” he explained. “I’ve got a sheet of light leather up in my den. I was going to use it for a patch on the bottom of my pack sack. Now, look!
I’m going to cut four little squares of this leather. It’s nice and light, but tough. Then, I’ll get four good elastic bands, and –”
He was off and up the stairs. He returned in a few minutes with four small patches of light leather, about five inches square, and a collection of assorted elastic bands.
“Now, see,” he exulted. “I place Rusty’s foot in the middle of this patch. I fold it up around his ankle and secure it with a rubber band. Presto!”
“Well, by golly,” I chuckled “it just might do!”
So we called Rusty to the back door. We spread a good pad of newspapers on the back steps. And then, while I held Rusty steady. Jim started to attach the new footgear.
Rusty didn’t like it much. He struggled quite a bit and protested vocally. He got twisted around so he could look at what Jim was doing.
“See, old boy?” cried Jim, patting Rusty’s noggin and holding up the first booted foot for Rusty to examine and sniff.
So Rusty, accustomed as he is to the oddities of human beings and resigned, largely, to the superior will, if not the wisdom, of his master, relaxed while Jim skilfully placed each paw in the centre of a leather patch, folded it up around the ankle and secured it firmly but not too tightly, with an elastic band.
“There,” declared Jim. “That will have to do until we get his new proper boots. It’s no trick at all to fix them on. The womenfolk will do it in a jiffy.”
I let Rusty go.
He stood for a moment, awkwardly. He raised one hind leg in the air and shook it sharply. He took a step. And as he lifted each foot, he would give it a quick, automatic kick.
He stepped cautiously down the steps, and at the bottom, turned and bit at his front paw.
“No, no, no!” warned Jimmie sharply.
Rusty stood uncertainly, gazing at the lovely mud of the lawn and garden beds.
“Go ahead, boy,” urged Jim softly.
Rusty took a couple more steps, giving each hind leg an automatic shake or kick as he lifted it.
Then he started to run.
“Hurray,” cried Jim, “he’s onto them already …”
But Rusty was running in wild circles. He was twisting and snapping and tearing at his paws. He fell over in his frenzy and rolled in the mud
“Hey,” roared Jim. “Hey!”
“Jim,” I cried, “he’s frightened. He’s going into a panic.”
Rusty was now rolling and biting and fighting madly in the thickest of the mud, the loose, soupy mud over by the lilac bushes. Rolling and kicking and tearing, a regular blur of mud.
Jim and I reached him simultaneously. To get to him, we had to do a little mud-wading ourselves. And to lay hands on him, we had to get a lot of mud in the face, and all over our hands, arms and knees.
“Steady, boy!” roared Jim, pinning him in the mud. And he started to unloose one of the boots.
But Rusty had had enough of our ideas. With a violent wriggle, he slipped from our clutches, and raced for the house.
The back door was open.
“Oh, OH, OH!” yowled Jim, as we sprinted.
But it was too late. We did not waste time trying to scrape our own feet. Nor even to shake any off our pant legs. We dashed through the kitchen, past the hall, into the living room.
And there, on the chesterfield, fought Rusty still game with his new footgear.
Well, Jim locked Rusty in the cellar. And we both peeled off, and got the mop, and the scrubbing pail AND the vacuum AND the broom.
AND some patent stuff for cleaning upholstery that we found in the cupboard.
And I am bound to say, we had at least the rough off before the womenfolk got home. At least, they wouldn’t have too much to do. No scraping, anyway.
“Now,” said Jim, at last, “I’ll go down and put that mutt in the laundry tub. And it’ll be lucky if I don’t DROWN him.”
“Aw, don’t blame the dog, Jim,” I submitted heavily. “Let’s just remember to leave domestic problems to the ladies.”
Editor’s Note: Jim’s dog Rusty appears in many stories. It might have been the same dog, or perhaps they all were turned into Rusty for the sake of stories.