This Christmas, as with every holiday, I will be celebrating it with collies. I fell in love with collies not from watching Lassie on TV, but from reading. Yes…reading!
I read every one of the books Albert Payson Terhune wrote that was available in the Chula Vista Public Library. From those books, I learned about the Sunnybank Kennels and his favorite dog, the immortal Lad. Terhune first published his novel, “Lad: A Dog” in 1919. It was later made into a feature movie in 1962.
Terhune (1872-1942) died before the MBM film “Lassie Come Home” brought collies into popularity in 1943. That movie was based on a story by Eric Knight published in 1940. Knight was born in Yorkshire, England, while Terhune was an American born author. Knight and his wife did raise collies in Pennsylvannia, but he died the same year that the Roddy McDowall movie came out.
Terhune’s Sunnybank in Wayne, New Jersey still exist although I haven’t had the chance to visit it yet. It is now maintained as a park, Terhune-Sunnybank Park. In recent years, collie lovers have held a gathering there.
Although Terhune’s book are sentimental, you’ll probably learn more about dogs and collies from reading those books than by following Lassie.
Whenever someone calls my dogs Lassie, I tell those people, my dogs are better looking than Lassie.