Ode to my Inspiration, Dav Pilkey

In 2005, I left teaching 6th grade after 13 years and began teaching 3rd.  I had gotten a reading endorsement, so when an opening in 3rd came up, I went for it.  We had a Reading First grant and our text was Scott Foresman.  At that time, administration wanted us to follow a very structured schedule and almost say verbatim what our teacher’s guide said.  This is pretty stifling for a teacher, but there was always a bright spot in the year, and that was when the story “Dogzilla” came up.  The kids couldn’t wait to read it!  It’s an incredibly clever story with Dav Pilkey’s own pet dog and mice as characters.  He uses actual photographs of the pets embedded in his illustrations. Here is an example:

The story is amusing for adults as well as for the kids.  You can’t help but chuckle at names like “Scarlett O’Hairy or “The Big Cheese” for mouse characters.  The dog character, Dogzilla, is monstrous in the mouse town, but they get rid of her in a hilarious way that all dog lovers will relate to.

Naturally, when thinking about writing a children’s book, I remembered the reaction my students always had to this story.  I knew that my pet dachshund, Puppy, would be a wonderful character too.  My biggest problem is that Puppy is camera shy and I can’t draw, but

puppy on a leash

thank you Dav Pilkey, for the inspiration..

Dachshund over promises and under delivers . . .

This morning Puppy said to me, “If you take me for a walk, I’ll use my superior powers of smell and hearing to tell you things about the neighborhood.”

That sounded intriguing, so I got his leash, and we took off heading west at his usual 4.5 miles per hour.  I was wondering how he would smell or hear things at that speed, but finally he paused to smell a rock.  He was quite thorough, and then he said knowledgeably, “A man sat on this rock last night.”

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I think he expected me to ask how he knew that, but the empty cigarette carton next to the rock was sort of a tip off.  I didn’t want to hurt Puppy’s feelings by being sarcastic and saying something like, “Really, dog?” so I just said, “Hmmm. . .”

We continued on around the corner.  Puppy always follows the sidewalk, so we tend to go around the block a lot.  He paused to sniff some beautiful golden African daisies that bloom this time of year.  His observation was, “Bees.”Image

A few more houses down, he paused again, straining slightly toward a huge patch of prickly pear cactus and then announced, “There are rabbits under there..”

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At Puppy’s next stop he told me that a kid had taken a fall in this spot.

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At this point I was thinking to myself (not saying it out loud for fear of hurting Puppy’s feelings) that he really hadn’t given me anything new about the neighborhood.  But then I heard a rooster crowing.  I’ve heard this rooster numerous times and always wondered which neighbor owned it.  Now I could find out!

“Puppy,” I said, “Which yard did that rooster crow come from?”

He replied (a little disdainfully I thought), “From the yard where the sound came from.”

“Yes, which yard was that?”  I pressed him for an answer.

“You’d have to look over the fences and see,” he said.

Around the corner we encountered a rather homely sight which was an old mattress in someone’s front yard.  The big trash truck comes around in January so I’m not sure who they think will pick the mattress up.  Puppy seemed to think I would because he said, “Bedbugs.  I wouldn’t sleep on that if I were you.”Image

Now we’ve been walking 20 minutes and I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard anything new about the neighborhood from my dachshund.  We’re almost home, and Puppy is getting a bit tired.  He sits down on the sidewalk to pant for a minute.  Then he said, “The person in this house was gardening.”

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After his last pronouncement, Puppy got up and we continued on home.  As we went in he looked at me proudly.  “Bet that was an eye opening experience for you.”  I was able to answer truthfully, “Yes, it was.”

If you’re interested in more of Puppy’s thoughts and dreams, you may enjoy my children’s book, Puppy, the Navy Seal Dachshund.