Tag Archives: dogs

Casey, Come Back! [1979]

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Published: 16 June 1979 – 30 June 1979

Episodes: 3

Artist: Unknown artist “Merry”

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: None

Plot

Josie Stanton has lived and worked on her grandfather’s farm since her parents died, but it’s miserable and lonely living there. Grandfather is a stern man and a real sourpuss who does not show her any affection or appreciation. He treats her like an unpaid labourer, takes her completely for granted, and gives her nothing but work, work, work. Josie’s only friend is the farm dog, Casey, and she does not know what she would do if she ever lost Casey. For this reason she can get quite jealous and possessive if anyone else takes an interest in him.

This happens when Casey and Josie encounter a holidaymaker, Mandy Prescott, who is on a caravan holiday with her parents. Mandy is spoiled, but she’s feeling lonely because she has nobody to talk to on holiday, and welcomes Casey’s company. This makes Josie jealous, but there’s worse to come – the Prescotts ask Granddad to sell Casey to them, and he agrees.

When Josie finds out, she is heartbroken and furious. She goes after the holidaymakers, but they are now leaving. Josie has no clue as to who they are and where they come from, and neither does Granddad. Josie is even more furious with Granddad when he expresses no apology or sympathy for her hurt feelings. The only gesture he makes is offering her some of the money he made from Casey, which Josie of course refuses. He does not listen to her pleas to help find Casey either. He tells her she can always get another dog, so shut up and get on with the chores. That’s the last straw for Josie. She tells him to get another slave and runs off in search of Casey.

Josie has a stroke of luck at Bill’s garage when he happens to mention the holidaymakers. She questions Bill about them. Fortunately Bill did some mechanical work for them and is able to give her their name and address. Josie sells her jacket to catch a train there.

Meanwhile, spoilt Mandy has begun to realise the responsibility of looking after a dog and is not even bothering to walk him. All the same, when Josie turns up, Mandy is not going to give Casey up without a fight. And a fight is precisely what it turns into, right on the doorstep!

However, while the girls are fighting, Casey runs off. And being a country dog, being lost in traffic would be dangerous for him. When Josie tells Mandy this, she is upset and agrees to help search, but in vain. Josie tells Mandy why Casey means so much to her, and Mandy repents taking Casey away from her. She did so because she was jealous of seeing Casey and Josie together and did not understand the circumstances.

Granddad is summoned. He is now deeply sorry for what happened, especially after he hears Josie saying that she thinks she means nothing to him except cheap labour. He really does love her, but it took the shock of her running off to get him to show it.

Casey then returns, and once they realise Casey wants them to share him, it’s agreed he will return to the farm and the Prescotts will visit him every holiday. So Josie returns to a home that is much better than before, and with a new friend in Mandy.

Thoughts

During 1979 Jinty ran several three-part stories that feel underdeveloped and would have been far better stories if they had been given more episodes. This one also feels like it’s over before it’s hardly begun. Though it probably does not have enough steam to stretch out into a standard length serial, a bit more length to turn it into, say, a six-parter like “Food for Fagin”, would have developed the characters more and made the story a far better one.

For example, the story could have developed more insights into the grandfather and why he is so stern towards Josie. Is he just one of those people who are not the demonstrative type and don’t find it easy to express affection? Is it something in his past? Is it sexist attitudes towards females, seeing them as only fit to slave around the house? Or is it something else? And we could also have seen more of just how much life has changed at the farm and how things have improved between Josie and her grandfather.

We get a taste of how Josie’s lonely home life and lack of friends except Casey has bred some unhealthy traits in her, such as her possessiveness and unwillingness to share Casey. There is some hint that her miserable life is turning her into a sourpuss in the eyes of everyone else; for example, Bill tells Josie she ought to smile more than she does. But we don’t know for sure because it’s not explained or developed enough. What does emerge is Josie not only becoming a happier person but learning to show it. Still, more episodes could have developed Josie further. For example, what is her school life like? No schoolmates visit her farm, but does she have any friends at school?

More length could have also developed the emotional elements more. As it is, we can see it has plenty of potential. Although Granddad is not cruel or abusive as some guardians in Jinty serials are, he definitely is thoughtless and insensitive towards Josie. It’s no wonder she thinks he has a heart of stone, couldn’t care less about her, and she is so miserable living with him. It turns out that he does have a heart and loves Josie, but it takes the shock of seeing the consequences of his thoughtlessness to bring it out. Josie and Mandy are both in their own ways miserable people and both seek friends and companionship, with they eventually get in a most ironic way – through Granddad’s thoughtlessness.

Cinderella Smith (1975)

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Published: 22 March – 30 August 1975 (24 episodes)

Artist: Trini Tinturé

Writer: Unknown

Translations/ reprints: None known

Plot

In all the years since Cindy Smith’s mother died, her life has been a succession of flats and hotels. This time, Dad means Cindy to have a settled home while he is away. So he sends Cindy to live with her cousins, Jemima and Agnes (presumably they are generation or two removed from her as they are much older than she is). They are two elderly ladies who are very rich, live in luxury, and have a pony and a dog. They sound like great relations to live with all right. The only snag Dad mentions is that they never took to Cindy’s mother and may have “funny little ways” as they are elderly. As it turns out, that is a forewarning of what is to come. From the moment Agnes and Jemima see Cindy, she gets the impression they are not taking to her either.

“Funny little ways” is the most misleading description of their ways too. Although the cousins live in luxury, they force Cindy to sleep in a shabby, miserable attic that has never even been installed with electric fittings as the rest of the house is. They flog all her clothes to make more money and make her wear tatty second hand clothes, which she has to wear to her new school as well. The cousins have the nerve to tell the headmistress that Cindy is wearing those clothes because she is poor! When the school insists on school uniform, Cindy has to go through the humiliation of the school kitting her out in a second hand one. The cousins don’t feed Cindy properly, and they even go as far as to give her leftovers from the dog’s dish. And of course they make her do all the work around the house. Even their spoiled dog Woozums joins the abuse (to begin with). The cousins threaten Cindy with canings to get her into line and they even chain her up while she’s working. When they catch Cindy trying to write to her father they lock her in the attic and torture her until she signs a contract that not only gives them the allowance she receives from her father but also makes her swear to silence about the abuse. Cindy tries to fight them, but she soon finds they are too strong, especially when they wield the cane against her.

At first it seems the reason for their mistreatment of Cindy is that they are real tightwads. Plus, they are too lazy to do any work around the house and are only to lumber her with it all. They won’t spare a penny on Cindy (or anything else) if they can help it. The only thing they spend any money on in earnest is themselves. They won’t call in professional help for jobs they can make Cindy do such as sweeping the chimney or painting the house. They sell Cindy’s pendant containing her mother’s picture when they don’t really need the money. All the while they receive money from Cindy’s dad for her upkeep. But of course they don’t use the money for her upkeep.

However, Cindy eventually realises the cousins have deeper motives for their cruelty when she discovers they have cut out her mother’s face from her wedding photo. She realises Agnes and Jemima hate her mother for some reason and are projecting that same hatred onto her because she looks like her mother. Cindy never finds out why the cousins hate her mother.

School is Cindy’s only respite from the abuse. Cindy finds a new friend Kay, and tells her how her cousins are treating her. At first Kay finds this hard to believe, but she comes to realise it is true and becomes one of Cindy’s helpers against the cousins. So too is Kay’s mother, who gives Cindy a Saturday job to help her raise money and she also senses the abuse Cindy is going through. It is during this job that Cindy learns some innings about the fashion world and dressmaking, both of which foreshadow what is to come later. While working at her Saturday job and other jobs to buy back the pendant, more people grow concerned about Cindy’s welfare, as they notice she looks half starved but never steals any food while working at the market.

Then Cindy finds another outlet from the abuse when she is invited to a party, and has to put together an escape plan (crowbar for the window bars the cousins installed, skewers for picking locks, and an escape ladder) to get there. At the party, Kay’s father Mr Bates discovers how photogenic Cindy is after seeing her in the party photos he took, and proposes a modelling contract.

The modelling contract requires the cousins to sign their consent as legal guardians, which means a bit of cunning on Cindy’s part. Hence Cindy stuffs them with so much food in order to make them so sluggish that when she flashes the contract under their noses (slipped in among old documents appropriated from the school office), they just sign without reading first. Payback for tricking her into signing away her allowance!

So Cindy’s modelling job begins, but Cindy is now lumbered with the burden of having to go about it while keeping it secret from her cruel cousins. Kay and another school friend Susie lend a hand in helping Cindy, such as providing Cindy with suitable interview clothes and helping her go to modelling jobs in disguise. Mr Bates also does his bit to help Cindy along against her cousins. Cindy is further helped by the fact that her modelling image requires her to wear a wig, which helps keep her cousins from recognising her in any of the photos or modelling shows. All the same, Cindy has to take precautions such as disfiguring or destroying photos of herself in magazines before her cousins see them. When the cousins are set to go to a fashion show where Cindy will be modelling, it’s some fast thinking and help from Kay to make sure they don’t recognise her.

In order to have a pretext to get to a modelling job, Cindy offers to take Woozums for a walk. This leads to very unexpected consequences that change the face of the story. Up until now Woozums has been as hostile to Cindy as the cousins are. But when Cindy has to bring him to the modelling studio where he ends up sharing the shoot with her, he loves the attention so much that he behaves himself. As it turns out, this is the start of a friendship with Woozums. It cements when Woozums gets sick from rotten biscuits the cousins left out for Cindy to have (trust them!) and she gets treatment for him. From that point on, Woozums becomes a good doggie to Cindy and even makes his own escape so he can accompany Cindy on her new modelling shoot.

Unfortunately this causes another close call, and with consequences. The cousins spot Cindy and Woozums’s shoot on television. They don’t see through her disguise, but they do notice the dog looks like Woozums and then they realise he is not around. When Cindy and Woozums return, the cousins are full of hard questions and then hit Cindy. This prompts Woozums to growl at them, at which the cousins deem him a savage dog (or guess his change of heart?) and say they will have him destroyed. Cindy takes Woozums to Mr Bates’ office, and he is only too happy to have Woozums as he is now part of Cindy’s image. Woozums will now have a salary too – but he must earn it of course.

Cindy’s new shoot is at a stately home background, which would require the whole day away from the cousins. Mr Bates understands the situation and tricks the cousins into coming to the stately home on a line that they are connected with the duke who lives there. Cindy comes as their maid and is free to slip away to her shoot with Woozums.

Alas, the trick has an unexpected backfire. The cousins come home so super-snobby that they are determined to all determined to spruce up their home to reflect their high connections. But as usual, they are too mean to pay for getting it professionally done. Instead, they lumber poor Cindy with painting the whole house from top to bottom, and it’s all being paid for with the money they have cheated out of her. This enormous, gruelling job has all the girls at school now realising just how badly the cousins treat her. Cindy is so exhausted from it that when she and Woozums set off for their new shoot she falls asleep on the train.

While Cindy is out, the cousins’ miserliness explodes right in their faces. They have been too stingy to get the house rewired (and from the sound of it, the wiring hasn’t been looked at since grandfather’s time!). So, during the night the ancient and neglected wiring finally crumbles and starts a fire. The cousins escape, but the house burns to the ground. And guess what? The old skinflints had been too mean to get insurance! As a result they lose everything and are reduced to sleeping in their own barn. Now it’s their turn to sleep in miserable accommodation.

When Cindy comes back, she is surprised to find her cousins being chased by a lynch mob because everyone thinks they deliberately left her to die. That part is soon sorted out. Still, the whole story of their mistreatment of Cindy is splashed all over the papers, so now they are publicly disgraced as well as ruined and homeless. Cindy decides not to press charges as she feels prison would be too comfortable for them. She is much happier with the punishment her cousins have brought on themselves. This includes their having to work for a change – which is slogging in Cindy’s school canteen.

Cindy gets her father’s allowance back in addition to her salary and is staying with Kay until her father returns. There is an extra reward for Kay – she is coming on Cindy’s new shoot in the south of France.

Thoughts

At 24 episodes this is no doubt Jinty’s longest running Cinderella story. It makes no qualms about its parallels to Cinderella either. “Cinderella” is in the title itself, and the cousins are the archetypal wicked stepsisters: one is tall and thin, the other is shorter and fatter, and both are caricatures of ugliness, which is how the wicked stepsisters are always portrayed in Cinderella pantomimes. There is no wicked stepmother figure. Still, she isn’t needed in this case because the wicked stepsisters, er, cousins, are more than old enough to do it themselves.

Agnes and Jemima must rank as two of the most extreme and sadistic of wicked stepsister figures in Cinderella serials. To the best of our knowledge, even Cinderella herself was not put in chains, subjected to downright torture or being forced to eat from the dog’s dish. But this is what happens to Cindy. They are not merely out to wring cheap labour out of Cindy and take advantage of her to save on more pennies. They are also deliberately inflicting physical and psychological torture designed to break Cindy down completely, and it stems from their hatred of Cindy’s mother.

The reason they hate the mother is never explained. The way they defaced the photograph suggests they were jealous of the mother’s good looks. This would tie in with the Cinderella theme, but it cannot be said for certain that this was the reason for their hatred. Cindy wonders if the answer to the mystery lies in the house somewhere. But she never gets to investigate it further. Jinty must have either forgotten to follow it up or dropped the ball on it for some reason. Either way, this particular loose end is left dangling, which is annoying. It would have given more depth to the psychology of the cousins if we had learned the reason they hate Cindy’s mother and just what they are projecting onto the daughter. Is it jealousy? Is it disapproval of the marriage? Or is it something else entirely?

Even without their hatred of the mother, their stinginess and selfishness alone would have driven them to mistreat Cindy and wring every penny they can out of her. A lot of misers in girls’ comics are played to satirise stinginess such as “Jeanie and Her Uncle Meanie”. However, these two misers are definitely not played for laughs. In fact, their miserliness goes not only to callous levels but dangerous ones as well, such as leaving the house wiring neglected and in danger of starting a fire.

They must get their stinginess from grandfather. In the first episode they said he never bothered to get the attic level wired, saying young children made it dangerous to have light up there (yeah, riiight).

After their downfall, there is no sign of them expressing any remorse. Nor does the story go into whether or not they were shocked into changing their stingy ways. We only see them grumbling at the humiliation of slaving in the school canteen, right in front of the girl they used to mistreat.

Only the artwork from Trini Tinturé serves to add some dilution to the cousins’ villainy by giving them a somewhat caricatured look. In the hands of a more serious, straight artists they could have been really terrifying.

The story does take quite a while to find the outlet of the modelling job, which occurs around the middle of the story. Up until then it’s futile attempts to fight the cousins, finding ways to break free of the attic and shackles, and doing the odd jobs to raise the money to buy back the pendant before it’s sold. So the earlier episodes may be construed as lacking a bit of focus, while the later episodes go in a clear plot direction once Cindy becomes a secret model. On the other hand, the early episodes could be intended as groundwork for the plot, what with Cindy finding ways to get away from her cousins, make friends to help her against the cousins, and the early job of working in fashion and dressmaking, which is an ideal and foreshadowing lead-in to the modelling job. It’s the perfect foundation on which to build her secret life as a model against all the cousins’ abuse.

The turnaround of the dog Woozums is well handled and believable. Being included in the shoot appeals to his selfish nature and gets him lots of attention. So he’d only be too happy to come back for more and behave himself, if only for that. Gratitude for Cindy saving his life changing him for the better is also credible, even if we do have to wonder why Woozums didn’t smell out that the biscuit was rotten. Woozums still causes the odd problem, but these stem more from his doggie nature than his former attitude towards Cindy. One example is where he digs up the earnings Cindy hid in the garden before she could bank them, so the cousins spend all the money. On the whole, though, he becomes wonderful companion for Cindy on her modelling jobs. Where he truly redeems himself is where he growls at his mistresses for abusing Cindy. He has gone from being a fellow abuser to helping Cindy stand up against the cousins’ abuse. For his pains, the cousins turn against their own pet and having him put down as a “savage” dog. This is one of the moments where the cousins show just how spiteful they are, for it looks suspiciously like the real reason they are putting him down is because they sense he has gone over to Cindy’s side. In the end of course, Woozums is rewarded with a much nicer owner, his own career, and even his own salary.

It would be the final and fitting punishment for the cousins. While they have been ruined, made homeless and forced to sleep in substandard conditions, and slaving away at menial jobs that wouldn’t pay much, the girl and dog they abused are now rich and famous with high-paying salaries.

Dora Dogsbody (1974-1976)

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Dora Dogsbody 1

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Dora Dogsbody 2

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Publication: 11 May 1974-1 November 1975. Returned 31 January 1976-5 June 1976.

Artist: José Casanovas

Writer: Various, including Terence (Terry) Magee and Pat Mills.

It has been said that the Cinderella story is (according to Pat Mills) one of the lynchpins in a girls’ comics. Well, it could also be said that in girls’ comics there are two types of Cinderella stories. The first is the serious type, with the ill-used heroine suffering constant exploitation and abuse from nasty guardians and struggling to find a way to escape. The second is the humour type, whereby the heroine is treated like Cinderella, but each week ends in a comical comeuppance for the nasty, scheming slave driver, and our heroine gets the last laugh (until next time). The best known of these is probably “Cinderella Jones” from Judy.

In Jinty’s first line-up, “Make-Believe Mandy” belonged to the first type. And Dora Dogsbody, the strip under discussion here, belonged to the second type. Dora Dogsbody is the first story to greet us when we open the first issue of Jinty. And as it is drawn by the popular José Casanovas whose style works brilliantly with animals, humour and the zany, it catches our attention immediately. Casanovas’ art is the type you can fall in love with immediately.

Dora Watson has lived in an orphanage until one day she is out for a walk. She rescues a dog (which she names Scamp) from being beaten up by bigger ones and in so doing demonstrates a way with dogs that does not go unnoticed by Mr and Mrs Siddons. They explain that they run a dogs’ hotel and ask Dora to come and live with them in exchange for helping their dog guests. It seems like a dream come true for any orphanage girl – a home at last. And the hotel sure is swanky for the dogs. They dine at posh tables as if they were humans (complete with napkins around their necks) and eat caviar and steaks. They have a television room, a room each, and are in every way pampered. But Dora notices that they still look miserable and believes it is not because they are treated like real dogs.

As a matter of fact, Mrs Siddons shows that she is no animal lover. In fact, she has a cruel streak towards them. For example, when Scamp chases a cat in the hotel (which frightens the dogs), Mrs Siddons kicks him. She is a snob who does not regard Scamp in the same league as her pampered guests. And for all her pampering, Mrs Siddons soon shows that she has little love for her own doggy guests; for example, she is not above undercutting their food as punishment or to make economies. Clearly, Mrs Siddons is only running the dog hotel for the money. And initially, Mr Siddons is as bad as his wife, though the weaker of the two. Later he becomes more of a henpecked husband in the grip of his dominant wife, and Dora takes a sly hand to help him at times. For example, she plays on Mrs Siddons’ vanity so Mr Siddons will play Sherlock Holmes in a fancy dress parade as he wants to do, instead of being coerced into being Charles II so Mrs Siddons can play Nell Gwynn.

But back to the first episode. As you might have guessed, the Siddonses have not adopted Dora out of the kindness of their hearts. Dora soon finds that Mrs Siddons only wants her as a skivvy who does all the dirty work in the hotel. She is also given a cold, draughty room that is a far cry from the luxurious dogs’ rooms and fed on scraps. But she decides to stay on to see if she can turn things around for these dogs. So each week it is Dora vs Mrs Siddons, whether it is to foil one of Mrs Siddons’ grasping machinations, to save a problem dog, or some other scrape. Some of these have included Biscuit, a dog who is in danger of being put down because he seems to attack women. Mrs Siddons does not listen to the circus owner’s explanation that the dog was only doing his old circus act of caning women with red hair, but Dora outsmarts her and restores Biscuit to the circus. In another story, Mrs Siddons wants to put down another dog, Binkie, because he is blind, and Dora is rather hard put to save Binkie’s life. Other dogs have bizarre or even dangerous behaviours that Dora is frequently lumbered with sorting out. For example, Dora is lumbered with taming a difficult dog, Wolf, which she eventually does with the help of another dog, Kipper. However, Mrs Siddons does not appreciate Kipper – and is even more furious when Dora gives the money for taming Wolf to Kipper’s owner. Some animals are not even dogs, such as Henry the cat. Mrs Siddons insists on having Henry in the hotel because his owner, Lady Jane, is an aristocrat. But Henry soon proves a horrible cat that deliberately causes trouble for the dogs the moment he is let out of his basket.

Occasionally it does not all go Dora’s way, which helps to keep it fresh. For example, in one episode, Dora thinks she has foiled Mrs Siddons again – until Mrs Siddons tells her that they are now lumbered with a pile of turnips and she will be eating them all week. In another, Dora and the dogs go on a walk-out in protest against Mrs Siddons’ cost-cutting measures which include depriving them of food, heat and light – and in winter weather! But the march is a disaster because of bad weather.

Dora proved one of the most popular and long-lasting strips in Jinty’s first line-up. She was the only one of two Jinty characters to return after a break and, unlike “Fran’ll Fix It!”, it was not due to popular demand from readers.

The Four-Footed Friends (1979)

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Four Footed Friends 1

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Four Footed Friends 2

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Four Footed Friends 3

Publication:17/3/79-23/6/79

Reprint: Jinty annual 1984

Artist: Peter Wilkes

Writer: Alison Christie (now Fitt)

Problem parents.

You know the type – too strict, too old-fashioned, too snobby, or way too over-protective. They make you feel like a virtual prisoner, never let you have any freedom, and you feel you’re not being allowed to grow up. Or they keep forcing you to do what they want and won’t let you do what you want.

Parents like that cropped up frequently in girls’ comics. Their attitudes were what drives the story, causing untold misery that could be avoided if only they acted differently, before (with a few exceptions) the happy ending where they finally see the error of their ways. Often their attitude stems from some giant chip on their shoulder, the product of a tragic event which turned them into what they are. Such is the case of Mrs Marshall, who goes to ridiculous and unfair lengths to keep her daughter Laura and then her pet dog, Winston, away from germs and common “riff-raff” because…no, it will not be revealed yet. The reason why Mrs Marshall acts this way is meant to be a mystery that keeps readers guessing until the end of the story.

The Marshalls are a rich family who life in an upper class house in Happy-Hillcock Estate. Mrs Marshall hates “common riff-raff” and takes the silliest of precautions to protect her daughter Laura from their “germs”. Mrs Marshall drives Laura to school so she does not catch any germs from council estate houses (and nobody is living in them yet!). In class, Laura has to sit alone to avoid catching germs from “common” children, under orders from her mother. When new girl Josie from the estate is seated next to Laura, Mrs Marshall yanks Laura right out of school and hires a dragon of a home tutor for her. When the council starts moving more people to the estate houses, Mrs Marshall launches a campaign against the influx of “common riff-raff”, although the council is only doing it to liberate the people from slum areas. Poor Laura is caught in the middle, between being forced to help both her mother and Josie’s rival campaign for more estate houses.

Mrs Marshall buys a Pekinese, Winston, as a companion for Laura, because she has become even more lonely and miserable after being yanked out of school. Winston becomes inseparable with Josie’s mongrel, Riley. Unfortunately Mrs Marshall is as over-protective of Winston as she is of Laura, and makes his life just as miserable to protect him from Riley’s “germs”. She goes as far as to demand that Riley be destroyed, although Winston pines without Riley. She does not listen to concerns that the dogs love each other too much. No wonder Riley and Winston try to run away together, and get into all sorts of scrapes while trying to stay together. This provides a lot of animal humour, such as hiding in coal bins and singing doggy duets to Mrs Marshall’s piano rendition of “Danny Boy”.

When Mr Marshall returns from abroad, things start turning around. Mr Marshall knows the reason for his wife’s problem, but he does not share it. He tries to talk sense into her, telling her to let the past die, not blame all common people for what happened, and that she is fussing over Laura too much. But Mrs Marshall is not listening, and is even more furious to find her husband helping the growing estate by building a supermarket. But Mrs Marshall is forced to make concessions when Mr Marshall uses Riley as a guard dog, and even she is moved when she herself sees the slums the people are being moved from.

But Mrs Marshall still clings to her snobby, overprotective ways. Eventually Laura gets so fed up with her mother that she runs off. Running away is a common means of climaxing these types of stories and resolving them, and this one is no exception. Riley saves Laura from a nasty accident and Mrs Marshall is so moved (perhaps a bit too quickly?) that she asks Riley’s forgiveness and has a change of heart. Later, the mystery of Mrs Marshall’s problem is finally revealed. Her baby son Alan died from an illness that she believes was contracted from a dirty dummy that a grubby kid shoved into his mouth. Hence her problem with common people and germs, but now she finally realises she has been “unjust and ridiculous.” Thereafter, there is no looking back and we get the happy ending we have been waiting for.

There certainly is a lot to make this story popular with readers. It is a strong commentary (and satire?) on over-protective parents, and so many kids can identify with Laura’s situation. Readers also love mystery, and it grows increasingly apparent that there is a mystery behind Mrs Marshall’s attitude. We see it in the way she keeps staring at a photograph in her room and saying how common people have caused her heartache. What does she mean? The question goes unanswered until the last episode, presumably so readers can have a go at solving it and make it even more fun.

Readers also love a story that makes a statement against snobbery. As Mrs Marshall causes increasing trouble with her snobbish attitudes, we are just waiting to see how she has a change of heart, or failing that, her comeuppance. The story also makes a strong call for tolerance, as represented by the two dogs. Someone tells Mrs Marshall that if a pedigree and a mongrel can get along, why can’t we rich people and common people? Once Mrs Marshall gets the message, she reiterates it in a big way. She has Riley and Winston jointly open the supermarket: “They both think a mongrel’s as good as a Peke, any day!” Above all perhaps, it has dogs. Who doesn’t love an animal story? And this one is full of animal antics ranging from scrapes that give us loads of laughs, to tears when the dogs come under threat from Mrs Marshalls’ stupidity, and admiration at the dogs’ determination and courage to beat Mrs Marshall and stay together.