Claude: A Dog of the Sixties is now published. It is available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble in paperback, soon at Ingram’s. It is also available as a Kindle book.
Perry has his own misadventures when the standard poodle Claude comes to his house. Because of a defect, Claude can’t be a show dog. But he fetches beyond his training, opens doors, and attempts to roam the neighborhood. The spring before the moonwalk, Perry plans a group project about UFO’s, space travel, and the Dog Star. During this, Claude makes escapes like a canine Houdini. Perry’s father has enough to worry about with the anti-war protesters in his history classes. Can Perry turn Claude’s exploring into training?
Claude was based on the standard poodle of my childhood and school days. The fictional Claude is placed in another family and becomes the pet of a boy, Perry. This was the first children’s novel I wrote with a boy protagonist. The book was drafted some time ago however I did a total rewriting of it in recent years. It had been set in the 1960’s and retained that period, what now is categorized as historical. The poodle I knew was in a time when hair length was an issue and people were worried about being “uptight” or “alright.” Claude can be clipped and Claude can be longhaired, being a poodle.
Realizing that the book would be retro or historical as I rewrote it, I decided to stay with the Sixties decade. Reviewing the space program was intriguing. I was in grade school when man left the earth for outer space. The attitude then was that anything might be possible. UFO’s were. In fact, my worst bedroom bogie, as a child, was the UFO that I was afraid would land near the streetlight in my window view. Then, imaginations went wild about aliens and humans colonizing Mars. Today, there isn’t so much real fear of such invasions or operations.
Claude is a book about a dog and a boy. The people in his family have their own interests, and maybe because of that, Claude has his. After Perry gets a telescope for Christmas and shows his school friends the Dog Star besides other stars, Claude identifies particular places in his neighborhood that he wants to see up close.
Here are a few paragraphs from inside the book:
laude had been cooped up for days. When he went on the leash outside, his nose froze. The clouds on the ground didn’t sparkle anymore and the snow tasted like dirt.
Tonight the air was warm. And lights glowed from the houses. Claude stretched his paws and he ran and ran. Whenever he ran, he was on a rope, never free. Young people had come for Perry and he thought they might take him away. They all liked the metal thing the way the Brimley’s liked the TV, crowding around it.
Claude suddenly knew what he wanted. He wanted to see another dog. He’d woofed to two dogs in the neighborhood. Then he met one but it was short and strained by a leash. That dog had a hysterical high bark, and it was frightened of him.
The other dog was sure of himself, baying from his yard. They both complained about their leashes when they woofed back and forth. Claude wanted to meet this dog and find out which of them was the leader dog. He hadn’t been the leader in the barn. But here, Claude might be the leader dog.
He surged into the dark air. He heard Perry but the other kids were calling too. Claude barked. Then he sped along the sidewalk and turned at the corner. When he saw the alley, he trotted down it.
Claude woofed again. He heard a remote bark, the greeting of the dog he hadn’t seen yet. Claude raced towards the barking, into a yard. There at a window was a dog with flapping ears the color of leather.
Claude was on his ground! There was no better way to become the leader. He woofed at the dog and the dog made it clear that once he got outside, they would tussle. Claude showed off his shoulders and his front legs. Then he teased the dog, marking a tree. The door opened but it was the dog’s owner.
“Shooo, you,” a woman said.
Claude took off. He could hear Perry’s voice calling. He ran down the alley again and then he crossed a street and trotted down another alley.
Perry was frantic. He could find the Dog Star more easily than Claude in the outer darkness of the neighborhood.
“He’s like a kid in kindergarten!” Perry said.
“Claude!” Imogen wailed. “It’s my fault. I was petting him and I didn’t think he’d get out!”
It was Perry’s fault because he hadn’t warned Imogen. That’s what his parents would say. At the end of the block, Perry said, “He’s invisible in the night.” He didn’t voice the horrible fact that Claude might be invisible to cars. They crossed the street, calling and calling.