BOOKS: Breaking the Chain: Teaching kindness & compassion to animals through art & creative writing
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2008:
Breaking the Chain:
Teaching kindness & compassion to animals
through art & creative writing
Edited by Bari Mears & Deb White.
Free download: <www.pacc911.org>
“A dog named Joey is tethered by a chain day after day,
night after night in his owner’s back yard. Harriet, a very clever
cat, moves next door and takes an immediate interest in Joey’s
plight. How does the story end?”
Thus Maricopa County Animal Care & Control volunteer Debra J.
White annually introduces more than 2,000 third graders to an
exercise combining creative writing with humane education. Some add
drawings to their work. Starting at two schools in 2004, White
within a year reached 15 schools, and after five years coordinates a
project that has begun attracting national notice.
Some of the best responses are anthologized in Breaking the
Chain. Renae Lynk of Westport Elementary School in Surprise,
Arizona won the first prize for “best essay” in 2008 with the only
entry in which Joey the dog died on the chain. The other contestants
imagined a variety of interventions ending happily. Chains were cut,
police responded, nice people adopted Joey, and even Superman made
No one envisioned the outcome of a similar situation. Back
in 1976, in San Jose, California, a very clever cat named Catapuss
moved next door to two chained dogs–a mongrel puppy in the adjoining
front yard, and a junkyard Rottweiler just behind the back wall.
Catapuss often got the puppy unchained by tearing out a
window screen to get outdoors and then teasing the pup until he made
so much noise that his people took him inside.
The Rottweiler was more of a challenge. Catapuss “liberated”
him by pushing a piece of cracked glass out of a window, climbing
the wall, and strutting disdainfully just out of reach of the dog’s
mad lunges. One day an especially frantic lunge snapped the
Forgetting Catapuss, the Rottie raced out the junkyard gate,
never looking back, not to be seen in that neighborhood again.
As the Rottie made no further effort to get Catapuss, once
free, and ran as if he had somewhere to go, the four of us who saw
it happen dared to hope for a happy reunion with someone who missed