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“Lassie, Come Home:” Thurber Responds

On Thanksgiving, Turner Classic Movies plays a “Family Favorites” Marathon, which includes “Lassie, Come Home.”

James Thurber expands on the theme, in his “Look Homeward, Jeannie:”

The homing dog reached apotheosis a few years ago when “Lassie Come Home” portrayed a collie returning to its young master over miles of wild and unfamiliar terrain in darkness and in storm. This million-dollar testament of faith, a kind of unconscious memorial to the late Albert Payson Terhune [author of Lad: A Dog and countless other collie chronicles -- Ed.], may possibly be what inspired Bergen Evans’ slighting remarks.

I suspect that Professor Evans has not owned a dog since Brownie was run over by the Chalmers. In the presence of the “lost” dog in the next block, he is clearly on insecure ground. He assumes that the dog does not come back from the next block because it can’t find its way. If this reasoning were applied to the thousands of men who disappear from their homes every year, it would exonerate them of every flaw except disorientation, and this is too facile an explanation for man or beast. Prince, the dog, has just as many reasons for getting and staying the hell out as George, the husband: an attractive female, merry companions, change of routine, words of praise, small attentions, new horizons, an easing of discipline. The dog that does not come home is too large a field of research for one investigator, and so I will confine myself to the case history of Jeannie.

I am told that Keith Olbermann read much of this essay on the air one night.  In spite of that, it’s a fine piece of writing, so don’t be dissuaded.

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