Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve
After the success of The Land Before Avocado, Richard Glover has brought us another treat to relish.
This is a hilarious series of letters by Clancy, a clever Kelpie, to his previous home and reviewed by his new owner, Man. He is an asset to any family, the perfect pet (he thinks). Clancy has definite opinions. Ball-chasing is pointless and an ‘expedition’ to get petrol is no comparison to scaling Everest or trudging like Mawson to the South Pole….
Being a Kelpie, the most respected of dogs for controlling sheep, Clancy vainly scours the backyard for traces of sheep or even crops. Sadly, only a dejected basil bush is found in a pot! His spirits rise, however, when the dog park features four small sheep (Maltese terriers). Rounding up follows.
Clancy is soon seriously involved in the life of the household. He re-arranges the contents of the recycling crate, and aligns with Lady (married to Man) in demanding air-conditioning in the searing summer heat. Consulting this remarkable dog will give you the cost of bark chips in Bunnings and the delights of rolling in freshly spread compost.
The dog’s entertaining and comical perceptions of human behaviour is balanced by Man’s responses. Both are appreciative, honest and familiar to anyone who has owned a dog. Sometimes, Man, Clancy’s master, replies at the end of a letter defensively justifying his behaviour. This can be enlightening but not as entertaining as the dog’s quirky way of interpreting life in the city, Sydney.
Both astonishing and informative is Clancy’s ability to read. This leads to his reaching conclusions backed by reliable scientific evidence. For instance, like most working dogs, he loathes baths and resents that he is regarded as dirty. He states that Swiss research has found there is more bacteria in men’s beard hair than in the fur of a dog! He omits that in this case he had rolled in cow pats on the farm they had visited….
His theory explaining why a dog’s sense of smell can be 10,000 times more powerful than the human’s is open to debate, however.
Information like this increases a reader’s enthusiasm to continue to follow this source of amazing facts!
Many chapters are laugh-out-loud inducing, but top of my list is the one about the vermin infestation. Clancy’s tale of the invasion by mosquitoes, moths, possums, magpies, and mice ‘so large they should beep when reversing’, concludes with his comment that he expected Sir David Attenborough to appear to inform on the wildlife there!
Richard Glover’s canine character has a no nonsense, rational approach to topics such as World Peace, Mining in WA and even self-esteem. He emerges as an intelligent, liberal and extremely rational being in outlook – admirable qualities in both man and beast!
In addition to this near perfect specimen, he has a deeply empathetic side. He is outraged by two overweight pugs at the park, wearing coats emblazoned with DO NOT FEED ME. Humiliating and worse, in his eyes!
Illustrations ideally share the light-hearted tales related by the master and his pet. A favourite is the page showing the canine version of Rodin’s Thinker, Michelangelo’s David, and an Egyptian hound from the days of the Pharaohs.
This highly talented dog has a proposal for a lucrative business scheme, delves into mindfulness, attempts to deal with a robotic vacuum cleaner, and, best of all, is a philosopher. In the final chapter, Clancy advises on how to live a contented life.
As he reminds us of Lord Byron’s quote, “dogs represent all the virtues of man without the vices”, we happily admit that Richard Glover’s Clancy is a splendid example of the species.
Dog lovers need no endorsement of the benefits and pleasures of owning a pet such as Clancy, but Richard Glover has presented such a charismatic and irresistible version here, that even those who will never own one will be charmed by this book. At the same time, it gives an entertaining view of human foibles.
by Richard Glover
ISBN 978 0 733 34106 9