A photo Rob Nunn took of his dog considering his Sherlock Holmes books got me thinking last night: What would a dog enjoy reading in the Canon?
My first thought, of course, was The Hound of the Baskervilles. It begins with the legend of a super-hero vigilante dog that uses its powers to end the evil life of a true villain. A canine reading of the text would discard the human bias it shows and discern the obvious truth of the legend: That heroic super-dog was the pet of the yeoman's daughter and this was his origin story. He's like the Ghost Rider of dogs.
And how does the rest of the tale go?
As with every dark vigilante superhero, dark rumors swirl up and the latest incarnation of this mysterious hero is falsely accused of a crime. A dog-loving detective named Sherlock Holmes comes to clear his name. And yet even while the local humans hate and fear Ghost Bounder, or whatever this hero dog is called, he still protects them, tracking down and ending Selden the murderer . . . the villain that most of the locals are actually living in fear of.
Now, the ending might not seem too dog-friendly, as the detective and his friends put down a Ghost Bounder imposter, but all we need is a shot of the true Ghost Bounder, standing proudly atop a tor and looking down at that crew before bounding off into the darkness, with Sherlock Holmes shaking his head in approval, and The Hound of the Baskervilles becomes completely dog-friendly.
"The Adventure of the Creeping Man" is similarly dog-friendly from the jump, with Roy the Newfie saving the neighborhood from the villainous monkey man, whose intentions for college girls were definitely not going to stop once he claimed his first victim.
More problematic is "The Copper Beeches," where Carlo the mastiff takes down the villain only to have the naive Dr. Watson run up, and in a thoughtless moment of prejudice, commit a graphically-described killing of the poor animal. Due to said graphic nature, I won't even quote it here, as I don't want to ruin my breakfast and there might be puppies among my readers.
"The Copper Beeches," is, of course, a tragedy, and such tales of a misunderstood hero meeting a fatal fate do occasionally get written. But the point of all this is that, outside of that imposter Ghost Bounder, who was duped into playing a role by Stapleton, the dogs of Sherlock Holmes's life were good dogs, and their stories should be read to the dogs of your pack if they have problems turning the pages for themselves.
Because The Sign of the Four and "Missing Three-Quarter" aren't the only stories you can share with them . . . you just have to understand a dog's point of view.