Canine Corner

The human-animal bond

The Best Dog Fiction Writer Ever?

A collection of clever and loyal Collies is described in nearly 50 books written by Albert Payson Terhune. Read More

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Lad A Dog

I read those books in elementary school and loved them! Hadn't thought of them in among time. I guess ironically, I'm now a cat person.

Terhune books

I owned and loved many of the Terhune books and also read them as a teenager. I sold many of the ones I had collected when I was moving but still have a few in my library.
I admit I never hankered after a Collie but the breed that did capture my heart is the Shetland Sheepdog, which are undoubtedly similar dogs. I've owned Shelties for approximately 30 years as pets and companions and believe they could match Terhune's fictional Collies for intelligence, fun, and companionship - although the specific exploits might be far-fetched.
As an adult reader, I did find Terhune's books a little maudlin with coincidences that were a touch too pat - but I suspect that just reflects differences in the society for which he wrote.

Old favorites, now free public-domain ebooks

Thank you for your article about Terhune's great collie books. I also first read them as a kid (in the early 1960's) and adored them. Recently I reread several which are available as free ebooks (check Gutenberg, Amazon, etc.) and though as you note they are not entirely PC nowadays (a "dog whip"? Yikes!) they are still wonderful tales and deserve to be read by dog lovers everywhere.

Lad a dog

Lad: A Dog was the first "chapter book" that I read and sparked a lifelong love of reading. I always was a dog lover, and my first dog was a Collie because of these books. Most people assumed it was because I watched Lassie, but no, they were mistaken. My next dogs were short-coated because the Collie grooming chore was relentless, but I still think I might have another one day.

The "BEST"?

....well, certainly ONE of the best! I, too, grew up with and dearly loved Terhune's books. I am mortified(and I'm sure Terhune is spinning in his grave) that modern rough collies look and behave little like the ones I knew growing up, in the old "Lassie" movies(the OLD ORIGINALS, mind you), and in the photo above. All the rough collies I see now are so profusely coated as to be ridiculously high-maintenance, and, sadly, the ones I've been around were dull as bricks--a far cry from the versatile, athletic, incredibly intelligent and intuitive collies I've known from the past! Another sad case of conformation dog showing NOT "improving" the breed! Perhaps there are those out there still breeding "old fashioned" unexagerrated Rough Collies? I hope so. But back to dog writers--another favorite of mine, though also blatantly anthropormiphic, was/is JIM KJELGAARD! He captured the spirit of the dog/human relationship as good as anyone ever has!

Where is Lassie, and Goldie, and Silvie?

I cannot help but wonder what sort of life did Terhune's bitches have?

"Lassie"

I am remembering, since I don't have the books, but Lad's mate was "Lady." So yes, there were bitches in Terhune's books.

My collie, my heart

As a youngster I avidly read every Terhune story I could find. Years later, after we'd had a sheltie, we visited a dog show. The collie breeders there were the kindest and most helpful people I've ever met answering questions about the breed and going above and beyond to help us find a dog of our own. Once you live with a collie, there is no going back. My dogs do combine brains and beauty. While they may not live the rough and ready life of the old Sunnybank dogs, they are a positive influence in the community. Neighbors have called them "epic" as we promenade down the street. As active therapy dogs their heroics are performed quietly as they carefully lick the razor marks on a troubled teen's arm.

And, Dr. Coren, no bending to pet!
btw, Anonymous, check out the smooth-coated collies. All collie, no mats.

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Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., is a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

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