Sunday, June 19, 2016

“Puppies are a lot easier to potty train.” BSC #118: Kristy Thomas, Dog Trainer (1998)

Oh look. Another issue book. I haven’t read this one, but I really hope it’s a lot less depressing than the last title.
Kristy’s family takes in a guide dog trainee puppy. Their main job is to teach the dog to obey simple commands like sit and stay, how to ‘go’ on command, and how to behave in public, so the puppy, Scout, can then go to a formal guide dog school, to learn special skills. Watson got the idea from a coworker of his, whose daughter recently lost her vision after an illness. Deb, who is twelve, is angry and mourning the loss of her sight and freedom, and the BSC decide to ‘fix’ that by trying to make her new friends.
During a sitting job, Deb decides to go to the video store, but her brothers aren’t ready to leave. So while Kristy’s not looking, she leaves on her own. Kristy finds her in the intersection and leads her back to the house.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover. Kristy actually looks super cute here, and the puppy is pretty adorable. (Not as cute as my Scout, but a lot less fat….) And this happens in the book, when Kristy meets a guy with a guide dog.

Ew. Kristy’s making dog puns, and they’re even worse than Abby’s puns. Boo, Kristy!
Then, to make matters worse, Abby points out that, even though they’re babysitters, they’re not supposed to sit on babies. And then makes a horse pun that related right into a very stupid exchange right before that.
Stacey makes a comment about how blind people have to learn to tell coins apart by feeling them, and wonders how they differentiate paper money. Well, first, I have the comment that a lot of people have complained about the 2006 update to money being ‘Monopoly money’ because it was different colors. Well, in other countries, not only is the money different colors but different denominations are also different sizes, specifically for this reason. I’ve seen people with visual impairments who fold different denominations in their wallets in different ways so they know what they have. I’ve also heard that Ray Charles used to insist in being paid in singles so that he knew he wasn’t being ripped off.
Karen asks what happens to the guide dog puppy if it fails its training. I actually knew the answer to that before I read it, because I read a magazine article back in my early teens about a family that raised a guide dog puppy. They updated on the puppy a few months later, stating that the puppy had failed guide dog school, but was now in training to be some type of police dog—either a cadaver dog or a drug sniffing dog or something similar.
Kristy loves Scout’s name because it reminds her of To Kill a Mockingbird. My Scouty is named after that same character.
I love this: after hearing that the Brewer-Thomas family will be getting a guide dog, Mallory and Shannon give Kristy books on dog training. This makes sense, as Mallory’s a book/library nerd, while Shannon’s family probably just had one of those lying around. (Although, couldn’t you picture the Kilbournes hiring someone to train Astrid?)
So Kristy. She brings Scout to a BSC meeting, and it’s not till she gets there that someone else points out that Abby’s allergic to dogs. Shouldn’t she have considered that before? My mother’s allergy to dogs is very serious, and she would have had to leave an enclosed space like Claudia’s room if there was a dog there.
It annoys me how one-dimensional they make most of the characters in these stories. When Jessi finds out that guide dogs can go anywhere, her first response is, even the ballet? Claudia is curious about McDonald’s. I expected them to continue the trend: Mallory to ask about the library, or Stacey to ask about the mall.
Real book: Nate the Great, which Mark is reading for school
Mary Anne is the first to sit for the Coopers. She wants to help Deb, who’s angry and resentful over the loss of her independence. Mary Anne feels very helpless to assist Deb in anyway, but I think she actually did a good job. When Deb knocks over a chair, she rights it and then tells Deb where it is so she can find it and sit in it on her own. And then she lets her vent her frustration.
The Abby groan fest continues: after she inadvertently rhymes a sentence, Mal tells her she sounds like Vanessa. So Abby voluntarily keeps up the very grade-school poetry.
After MA’s experience with Deb, the BSC decides to ‘fix’ her situation by making new friends for her. Kristy’s supposed to be a sort of companion for her for the afternoon—kind of the way Dawn was supposed to be Whitney’s companion once upon a time—and the other sitters decide to bring their charges over to see her so that she could have other people who didn’t know her before to hang out with, people who wouldn’t judge her by the person she used to be. That’s a sweet idea, but again, Deb is twelve. The kids they plan to pair her up with are between the ages of four and eight. Good friends for her little brothers, but for her? The BSC members themselves would be smarter choices. (Oh, Mary Anne brings Ben Hobart along with the other Hobart boys, which is more appropriate. But why is she sitting for him? And he already knows her, since James and Mark are friends, but doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose here as well?)
Karen suggests that Scout could go on safari with a blind person. While that’s technically true, where the hell did she come up with that idea?
HA HA! Kristy nearly makes Karen cry!
Watson say the title quote when Kristy equates raising a guide dog puppy to raising a child.
I feel for Mark and Jed. One of them makes a comment about how Deb gets to watch as much television as she wants, then self-consciously amends that to say she listens to television. They have to keep the floor clean and not move anything around, and since Deb is so angry, they tiptoe around her, trying not to set her off. While Deb is getting help from a social worker, the two of them just have to deal with the changes to their lives.
When Kristy finds Deb in the middle of the intersection, she winds up telling her off. Deb suggests she’d be better off dead, and Kristy tells her she’s not dead—she’s got family and friends who care. Deb says she doesn’t want her friends feeling sorry for her, which is a noble sentiment. But Kristy points out that she then should stop feeling sorry for herself. Easier said than done, but I think it did need to be said.
Small mistake: the word ‘warning’ appears in the middle of a sentence and in the middle of a line in a book, yet it’s written as warn-ing.
That really wasn’t as bad as I thought. I think it’s because the BSC members don’t ‘fix’ or ‘save’ Deb. She still has a long ways to go, her attitude is still intermittently crappy, and she still lacks the independence of kids her age. Nothing’s really solved, but Deb has started on the right track. Much more realistic than most BSC books.
New characters
Deb, Mark and Jed Cooper (12, 8 and 4)—30, 26 and 22
Stacey: black jeans, black cropped sweater, ankle boots
Claudia: hot pink bike shorts, Hawaiian print shirt, hot pink and lime socks, Doc Martens painted swirls of colors. Other than the Docs, this outfit SCREAMS 1990.

Next: Mystery #34


  1. Have you seen the movie Hot Fuzz? The dog actor who plays Saxon is a dog that was too friendly for police training.

  2. Have you seen the movie Hot Fuzz? The dog actor who plays Saxon is a dog that was too friendly for police training.