Book Shelf – Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows is a 1961 children’s novel by Wilson Rawls about a boy who buys and trains two Redbone Coonhound hunting dogs.

A man named Billy Colman rescues a redbone hound under attack by neighbourhood dogs. He takes it home with him so that its wounds can heal. In light of this event, he has a flashback to when he was a ten-year-old boy living in the Ozark Mountains.

The book is Wilson Rawls own story with Billy Colman as the fictional character who wants nothing more than a pair of Redbone Coonhounds for hunting. After seeing a magazine ad for coonhounds, Billy spends the next two years working odd jobs to earn the $50 he needs to buy two puppies. Billy’s dogs are delivered to Tahlequah, over 20 miles away. Billy decides to walk the distance. As he returns with the dogs, he sees a heart carved on a tree with the names “Dan + Ann” and decides to name the puppies Old Dan and Little Ann. With his grandfather’s help, Billy teaches his dogs to hunt. Both dogs are very loyal to each other and to Billy.

The first night of hunting season, Billy promises the dogs that if they tree a raccoon, he will do the rest. They tree one in a huge sycamore, which Billy believes is far too large to chop down. Remembering his promise to his dogs, Billy spends the next two days attempting to chop down the sycamore. Exhausted, Billy prays for the strength to continue, whereupon a strong wind blows the tree over.

Billy and his hounds become well-known as the best hunters in the Ozarks. Billy’s grandfather makes a bet with Rubin and Raine Pritchard that Old Dan and Little Ann can tree the legendary “ghost coon” that has eluded hunters for years. After a long, complicated hunt, Old Dan and Little Ann manage to tree the raccoon, but having seen how old and smart the ghost coon is, Billy cannot bring himself to kill it. Billy tries to stop the Pritchards from killing the raccoon, leading to a fight with Rubin. The Pritchards’ dog Old Blue joins the fight, provoking Old Dan and Little Ann to attack Old Blue to drag him away from Billy. Rubin tries to drive Billy’s dogs away with an axe, but trips, falls on the blade, and dies. Billy is deeply troubled by the tragic turn of events, but does not regret his choice to spare the ghost coon.

Billy’s grandfather enters him into a championship coon hunt against experienced hunters. The hunt is scheduled during a particularly cold week and many of the other hunters are forced to give up, but Billy, who is used to mountain winters, is able to reach the final round. On the last night, Old Dan and Little Ann trap three raccoons in a single tree, but a sudden blizzard forces Billy to take shelter. The following morning, the dogs are found covered in ice but still circling the tree. All three raccoons are captured and Billy and his dogs win the championship and a $300 prize.

One night while the trio is hunting, a mountain lion attacks the dogs. Billy fights to save his dogs, but the mountain lion turns on him. The dogs manage to save Billy by killing the mountain lion, but Old Dan later dies of his injuries. Over the next few days, Little Ann loses the will to live and finally dies of grief atop Old Dan’s grave, leaving Billy heartbroken.

Billy’s father tries to comfort his son by explaining that he and Billy’s mother have long wished to move to town where their children can get an education, but could not afford to do so without the extra money brought in by Billy’s hunting. Knowing that Billy’s dogs would suffer in town and that Billy would be devastated to leave them behind, they intended to allow Billy to live with his grandfather. Billy’s father believes that God took the dogs as a sign that the family was meant to stay together.

On his last day in the Ozarks, Billy visits Old Dan and Little Ann’s graves and finds a giant red fern growing between them. Remembering a legend that only an angel can plant a red fern, Billy also comes to believe that perhaps there truly was a higher power at work.

The adult Billy closes by saying that although he hasn’t returned to the Ozarks, he still dreams of visiting his dogs’ graves and seeing the red fern again one day.

Dog Breed – Akita

The Akita is a large and powerful dog breed with a noble and intimidating presence. They were originally used for guarding royalty and nobility in feudal Japan. These dogs also tracked and hunted wild boar, black bear, and sometimes deer.

The Akita is a medium breed of dog originating from the mountainous regions of northern Japan. There are two separate varieties of Akita: a Japanese strain, commonly called Akita Inu (inu means dog in Japanese) or Japanese Akita, and an American strain, known as the Akita or American Akita. The Japanese strain comes in a narrow palette of colours, with all other colours considered atypical of the breed, while the American strain comes in all dog colours. The Akita has a short double-coat similar to that of many other northern spitz breeds such as the Siberian Husky, but long-coated dogs can also be found in many litters due to a recessive gene.

The Akita is perhaps the most renowned and venerated of the native Japanese breeds. Although it bears a likeness to dogs from ancient Japanese tombs, the modern Akita is the result of a concerted nineteenth century effort to restore seven native Japanese dog breeds. The Akita, largest of these breeds, was restored using many breeds, including indigenous Odate dogs, which were used as the best representatives of native Japanese animals. Over time, Japanese breeders selected against many traits descended from some ancestors, including black mask, pinto pattern, and substantial size; whereas American breeders perpetuated those traits. In 1918, the Akita-inu Hozankai Society of Japan was formed to preserve the original Akita, and in 1931 the Akita was designated as one of Japan’s natural monuments.

The most honoured Akita of all time was Hachiko, who greeted his master every evening at the train station to accompany him home. When his master died at work one day, Haichiko waited for him, and continued to return and wait for his master every day until he died nine years later on March 8, 1935. Today, a statue and annual ceremony pay homage to Haichiko’s loyalty. The first Akita arrived in America in 1937, when Helen Keller returned from Japan with one. Following World War II, servicemen returned home with Akitas from Japan. The breed’s popularity grew slowly until it received AKC recognition in 1972. Since then, it has steadily gained admirers and continues to grow in popularity. The Akita is now used as a guard and police dog in Japan.

The Akita does not back down from challenges and does not frighten easily. Consequently, they are fearless and loyal guardians of their families. Yet they are also affectionate, respectful, and amusing dogs when properly trained and socialized.

An Akita is bound to shed quite a bit, and you may be wiping some drool from their face if you bring one home. Certainly, owners should be prepared for some clean up. Furthermore, they tend to be stubborn and are not overly fond of strangers. While those can be good traits for a watchdog, they’ll need an experienced trainer if they’re to interact with other animals or people. The Akita is not a suitable pet for novices.

That said, dogs of this breed are faithful companions that will be attached to the right human for life and shower them with adoration and love. Therefore, if you and your family are up for the challenge and consider adopting an Akita, you’ll have a lifelong friend who won’t let you down.

Book Shelf – The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Book Shelf – The Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a children’s book written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter that follows mischievous and disobedient young Peter Rabbit as he gets into, and is chased around, the garden of Mr. McGregor. He escapes and returns home to his mother, who puts him to bed after offering him chamomile-tea. The tale was written for five-year-old Noel Moore, son of Potter’s former governess Annie Carter Moore, in 1893. It was revised and privately printed by Potter in 1901 after several publishers’ rejections, but was printed in a trade edition by Frederick Warne & Co. in 1902. The book was a success, and multiple reprints were issued in the years immediately following its debut. It has been translated into 36 languages, and with 45 million copies sold it is one of the best-selling books in history.

The story was inspired by a pet rabbit Potter had as a child, which she named Peter Piper. Through the 1890s, Potter sent illustrated story letters to the children of her former governess, Annie Moore. In 1900, Moore, realizing the commercial potential of Potter’s stories, suggested they be made into books. Potter embraced the suggestion, and, borrowing her complete correspondence (which had been carefully preserved by the Moore children), selected a letter written on 4 September 1893 to five-year-old Noel that featured a tale about a rabbit named Peter. Potter biographer Linda Lear explains: “The original letter was too short to make a proper book so [Potter] added some text and made new black-and-white illustrations…and made it more suspenseful. These changes slowed the narrative down, added intrigue, and gave a greater sense of the passage of time. Then she copied it out into a stiff-covered exercise book, and painted a coloured frontispiece showing Mrs Rabbit dosing Peter with chamomile-tea”.

The story focuses on a family of anthropomorphic rabbits. The widowed mother rabbit warns her four rabbit children, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter not to enter the vegetable garden of a man named Mr. McGregor, whose wife, she tells them, put their father in a pie after he entered. Her triplets (Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail) obediently refrain from entering the garden, but Peter enters the garden to snack on some vegetables.

Peter ends up eating more than what is good for him and goes looking for parsley to cure his stomach ache. Peter is spotted by Mr. McGregor and loses his jacket and shoes while trying to escape. He hides in a watering can in a shed, but then has to run away again when Mr. McGregor finds him, and ends up completely lost. After sneaking past a cat, Peter sees the gate where he entered the garden from a distance and heads for it, despite being spotted and chased by Mr. McGregor again. With difficulty, he wriggles under the gate, and escapes from the garden, but he spots his abandoned clothing being used to dress Mr. McGregor’s scarecrow.

After returning home, a sick Peter is sent to bed by his mother, after she tells him that his jacket and shoes are the second jacket and pair of shoes that he has lost in a fortnight. His mother also takes note that he was not feeling too well, and deduces that he had definitely been to Mr McGregor’s garden. To cure his stomach ache, Mrs. Rabbit gives him chamomile-tea which is revealed to be one teaspoon and gives a dose of it to Peter. Peter’s sisters, meanwhile, receive a scrumptious dinner of milk, bread and blackberries.