Jun 06 2014

Why The Clifford Series Teaches Grownups a Lesson

I’ve been composing this in my head for months, so bear with me and my passion while I get these thoughts out in the open. I’m sure most people in the United States have heard of the television show or the children’s books about Clifford the Big Red Dog. I grew up before the show existed, but the books were my favorites in the elementary school library I attended.

The basic theme of the books and show is this. Emily Elizabeth Howard is a little girl who wants a puppy, so she gets one, and he happens to be the runt of the litter. She LOVES Clifford, even when he’s naughty and does puppy stuff. Eventually Clifford becomes SO BIG, according to wikipedia over 25 feet tall (I feel like this corresponds with the books) that the family has no room for him in their little city apartment and they have to move a small neighborhood or Birdwell Island. Check out the intro song for the show, it’s pretty descriptive of the story line.

Let’s regroup, they adopted a dog, he got too big, they moved to accommodate him. That’s how the story goes. I realize this is a little bit of an idealistic reality, but the point Author Norman Bridwell makes is that you don’t just get RID OF your dog because he outgrows your little apartment, because he gets sick, becomes an inconvenience, etc. Any of the number of reasons people give for getting rid of their adult dog, Emily Elizabeth’s family blows this out of the water by saying, “Heck no, we love our dog, we didn’t adopt him just to give him back, we’re going to be his forever family and we’re going to make him happy.”

The Howard family is the ideal forever family for any dog or cat. They’re forgiving, loving, accommodating, and above all, committed. Because when you adopt a pet you’re essentially promising to do those things for this creature that DEPENDS on you. And when you break that promise by surrendering your pet either to a shelter, a new owner on craigslist (oh man, craigslist pets), your neighbor, or simply abandoning them, you’re being a complete jerk. You don’t adopt a baby, toddler, child, teenager and then just say “I don’t want you” and give him/her back? They depend on you! You worked hard to adopt him/her. So please, before you adopt a pet, give them that same commitment!

They’re going to eat your flip flops unless you give them a rubbery toy. They’re going to rip up cardboard, they’re going to poop inside if you don’t take them out. They’re going to grow bigger! Commit before you adopt so people like me don’t have to see your awful craigslist advertisements 6 months later. *end rant*

{I definitely recommend these books, I grew up loving this series and my kids enjoy it too. You can click on each of these pictures to find them on Amazon. No I wasn’t asked to write this post, nor am I being compensated for it. I’m really passionate about animal welfare and my kids watch this show often enough that the theme song is stuck in my head just like it is in yours.}

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  1. Pretty Healthy Most of the Time

    I love Clifford! What good memories :) I totally agree with everything you say. I will never understand how people can just get rid of their family pet once they pass that cute puppy phase – ugh.

    I’m a high school teacher and I read children’s books to my students quite often because many of them really have such good messages. Have you read “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”? That book is my favorite for “big kid” lessons!

  2. Shelby Michalek

    Oh yes! I loved the “if you give a mouse” series when I was a kid. I don’t think I have them for my own kids yet. I’ll have to try to find them this summer.

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