The Other Dog

The Other Dog – By Madeleine L’Engle

Written by the legendary author of The Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle, I could barely believe it when I saw the well-loved book in the library. This book is written from the perspective of their dog, Touché L’Engle and how she welcomed the other dog everyone calls a baby.

The Other Dog – by Madeleine L’Engle Illustrated by Christine Davenier

It is a light-hearted and joyous book celebrating the life of their first pet, Touché . At one point in the book, I stopped and laughed out loud.

The Other Dog – By Madeleine L’Engle

I always tell my master and mistress

when the telephone or the doorbell rings.

No one could be more efficient,

more energetic,

more conscientious,

or louder

about this than I am

Madeleine L’Engle – The Other Dog

I remember my friend telling me a few years ago that their dog, with whom I shared a birthday, and was always very proud of it, had taken it upon himself to take care of the children. Which meant that every time one of her babies cried, the dog would bark too, and every time the door bell rang, he would bark too. 

As a visitor to their home, I found it all very amusing. I would ring the bell, listen to the gongs echo through their house, then the dog would bark, and usher me in with welcoming wags of his little tail. While there, if the baby so much as whimpered, the baby monitor would amplify the sounds and relay it to the room we were in. But that wasn’t enough:  the dutiful little dog took it upon himself to also convey the message, and so there was a grand flurry of activity every time the baby got up. 

I remember laughing so hard at all this activity, and my friend, tired as she was with a new baby in the house, joined in, and laughed heartily too. The dog was thoroughly bewildered. Had he not conveyed the message properly? THE BABY WAS CRYING! Why were we standing around laughing so hard that we had to clutch our stomachs?

What a lovely peek into the past that book was for me? Reading about the story of how the book came to be was fascinating in and of itself. Long before she became famous for her Wrinkle in Time she had written the book, The Other Dog, but it never made it to a publisher. Years later, long after Touché the dog had passed on, this book was published. Touché was a little grey poodle who was adored by fans for his appearance in stage plays in his youth. Reading about Touché, it was apparent that long after this death, Touché is also adored by all his book-reading fans.

Touché’s debut was in the production of Checkov’s The Cherry Orchard.

We go through life seeing many people who might’ve made good celebrities, and I am glad to say I have a met a dog or two in that category too. But fame, fickle as it is, can sit very poorly or gracefully on certain characters. It looks like Touché was gracefully accepting of his time on stage, and never let himself down from the higher standards of deportment he had set out for himself. If I were a celebrity, I would’ve learnt a thing or two from dear Touché.

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