Diane Prather: 'Help me, Mr. Mutt' a funny, interesting read


Diane Prather

Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.

There are all kinds of experts who offer advice to others. In this week's picture book, it's Mr. Mutt, a canine counselor, who helps dogs with people problems.

"Help me, Mr. Mutt! Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems" is a brand new book, written by Janet Stevens and her sister Susan Stevens Crummel and illustrated by Janet Stevens.

The reader finds Mr. Mutt's photo on an advertisement page. Wearing spectacles, the dog expert looks very knowledgeable, indeed. Dogs with problems are invited to write to him in Dogwood, Del. Speedy replies, with diagrams, are guaranteed.

The first letter, from Famished in Florida, is dated Jan. 17. Famished has been put on a diet by his people, and he's just wasting away. He claims that the family cat gets fancy food from a tiny can while he gets dry food. Enclosed photos are of a quite plump dog and a cat that's in good shape, too.

Mr. Mutt types his answer on stationery with his picture printed on the letterhead. He says Famished needs at least eight servings of food a day and includes a diagram of a food pyramid to show what they should be.

At the bottom of the pyramid are foods such as baked turkey, lollipops, hamburgers, hot dogs and birthday cake. Eight servings a day are suggested for this level. At the very top of the pyramid, in a tiny section, is dry dog food - to be avoided.

Mr. Mutt suggests checking the countertops for food, even if Famished has to stack one little dog on top of another so the one on top can reach food.

Other alternatives for getting food include dumping out the trash and spreading it around real good to find treats or lying under the baby's high chair. The diagram is hilarious.

And to finish off the gourmet meal, Famished needs to take a cool drink from the toilet.

In a P.S., Mr. Mutt adds a comment about spoiled rotten cats.

Now, it happens that a cat resides at our expert's house, and she's right under his desk. Queen, a big white and gray cat, wears a tiara. She writes letters on stationery with her picture on it and signs the letters with her paw print.

And so queen writes a letter to "muttface" in which she denies that cats are spoiled rotten. Besides that, she's royalty and would never drink from a toilet.

The book is filled with letters, including one from Unplugged in Utah, who wants the family to play with him instead of watching TV. Overdressed in Oklahoma protests that he's a laughingstock because the family dresses him in costumes. The letters have complaints about cats, too.

Mr. Mutt's answers are accompanied by drawings, charts, diagrams and even "nine dogs out of 10" polls. He addresses complaints about the cats, too.

This very funny book ends with a CATastrophe. The book undoubtedly will be popular with dogs, but humans will enjoy it, too.

Besides the funny story, readers are invited to find a number of items within the illustrations, including actual dog hair, green biscuits and a big sandwich.

The book is published by Harcourt (2008) and costs $17 in hardcover. It will soon be on the shelf at the Moffat County Library.


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