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The Sunnybank Collies

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Treve, Sandy, Thane, and Jock | Sigurdson, Explorer, Chaeroplane, and King Coal | Fair Ellen, Jean, Lady, Beth, Andeen, and Bunty
Lad
| Wolf | Bruce | Bobby | Gray Dawn

 

The Dedication from Bruce,
by Albert Payson Terhune, E.P. Dutton, Publisher, 1920

 

 

"In short, to the most gloriously satisfactory chums who ever appealed to human vanity and to human desire for companionship "

 

TO MY TEN BEST FRIENDS

(Wolf, Lass, Bobby, Jean, Gael, Gray Dawn, Treve (living), and Lad, Bruce, and Jock, deceased at the time the book was published)

Who are far wiser in their way and far better in every way, than I; and yet who have not the wisdom to know it

 

Who do not merely think I am perfect, but who are calmly and permanently convinced of my perfection;and this in spite of fifty disillusions a day

 

Who are frantically happy at my coming and bitterly woebegone in my absence

 

Who never bore me and never are bored by me

 

Who never talk about themselves and who always listen with rapturous interest to anything I may say

 

Who, having no conventional standards, have no respectability; and who, having no conventional consciences, have no sins

 

Who teach me finer lessons in loyalty, in patience, in true courtesy, in unselfishness, in divine forgiveness, in pluck and in abiding good spirits than do all the books I have ever read and all the other models I have studied

 

Who have not deigned to waste time and eyesight in reading a word of mine and who will not bother to read this verbose tribute to themselves

 

In short, to the most gloriously satisfactory chums who ever appealed to human vanity and to human desire for companionship

 

TO OUR TEN SUNNYBANK COLLIES MY STORY IS GRATEFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED

Albert Payson Terhune
 

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Lad

"Lad was an eighty-pound collie, thoroughbred in spirit as well as in blood."

 


S Sunnybank

 

"His fluffy puppy-coat of wavy mahogany-and-white- caught a million sunbeams, reflecting them back in tawny-orange glints and in a dazzle as of snow. His forepaws were absurdly small, even for a puppy's. Above them the ridging of the stocky leg-bones gave as clear a promise of mighty size and strength as did the amazingly deep little chest and square shoulders."

 

 

 

"He was a big and incredibly powerful collie, with a massive coat of burnished mahogany-and-snow and with absurdly small forepaws (which he spent at least an hour a day in washing) and with deepset dark eyes that seemed to have a soul behind them. So much for the outer dog. For the inner: he had a heart that did not know the meaning of fear or disloyalty or of meanness."

 

s were ab small, even for a p

 

"But it was his personality, apart from all these things, which madeand still makeshim so impossible to forget. As I have tried clumsily to bring out in my three books about him."

 

 

"He was immeasurably more than a professionally loyal and heroic collie. He had the elfin sense of fun and the most humanlike reasoning powers I have found in any dog."

 

 

"LAD: Tthoroughbred in Body and Soul"

 

"Some people are wise enough to know that a dog has no soul. These will find ample theme for mirth in our foolish inscription. But no one who knew Lad will laugh at it."

"Without vanity, Mr. Terhune can say he was the best-known dog (to the nonshow public at least) on earth. He has received nearly a thousand letters about him and people were forever motoring to Sunnybank on pilgrimages to see him. The last time he was shown, he won the Veteran Cup."


 

Sunnybank Lad
(Spring 1902 - September 3, 1918)

From Further Adventures of Lad, Curtis Publishing Company, 1921

His fluffy puppy-coat of wavy mahogany-and-white-caught a million sunbeams, reflecting them back in tawny-orange glints and in a dazzle as of snow. His forepaws were absurdly small, even for a puppy's. Above them the ridging of the stocky leg-bones gave as clear a promise of mighty size and strength as did the amazingly deep little chest and square shoulders.

Here one day would stand a giant among dogs, powerful as a timber-wolf, lithe as a cat, as dangerous to foes as an angry tiger; a dog without fear or treachery; a dog of uncanny brain and great lovingly loyal heart and, withal, a dancing sense of fun. A dog with a soul.

All this, any canine physiologist might have read from the compact frame, the proud head-carriage, the smolder in the deep-set sorrowful dark eyes. To the casual observer, he was but a beautiful and appealing and wonderfully cuddleable bunch of puppyhood. (Pp. 15-16)

In Some Sunnybank Dogs, Chapter 5, of A Book of Famous Dogs, Terhune says Lad stands out as foremost of the dogs of Sunnybank. His description of Lad on page 102 of that book:

He was a big and incredibly powerful collie, with a massive coat of burnished mahogany-and-snow and with absurdly small forepaws (which he spent at least an hour a day in washing) and with deepset dark eyes that seemed to have a soul behind them. So much for the outer dog. For the inner: he had a heart that did not know the meaning of fear or disloyalty or of meanness.

But it was his personality, apart from all these things, which made and still makes him so impossible to forget. As I have tried clumsily to bring out in my three books about him.

He was immeasurably more than a professionally loyal and heroic collie. He had the elfin sense of fun and the most humanlike reasoning powers I have found in any dog.

From Further Adventures of Lad, George H. Doran Company, 1922

Lad was very old very, very, old. He had passed his sixteenth birthday. For a collie, sixteen is as old as is ninety-five for a human.

The great dog's life had been as beautiful as himself. And now, in the late twilight of his years, Time's hand rested on him as lovingly as did the Mistress's. He had few of the distressing features of age.

True, his hearing was duller than of yore. The magnificent body's lines were blurred with flesh. The classic muzzle was snow white; as were the lashes and eyebrows. And the once mighty muscles were stiff and unwieldy. Increasing feebleness crept over him, making exercise a burden and any sudden motion a pain. The once-trumpeting bark was a hollow echo of itself.

But the deep-set dark eyes, with a soul looking out of them, were as clear as ever. The uncannily wise brain had lost not an atom of its power. The glorious mahogany-and-snow coat was still abundant. The fearlessly gay spirit and loyal hear were undimmed by age. (P. 318)

Over a magnificent lifeless body on the veranda bent the two who had loved Lad best and whom he had served so worshipfully for sixteen years. The Mistress's face was wet with tears she did not try to check. In the Master's throat was a lump that made speech painful. For the tenth time he leaned down and laid his fingers above the still heart of the dog; seeking vainly for sign of fluttering.

"No use!" he said, thickly, harking back by instinct to a half-remembered phrase. "The engine has broken down."

"No," quoted the sobbing Mistress, wiser than he.  "'The engineer has left it.'"  (P. 341)

From Lad A Dog, E.P. Dutton & Company, 1919, 1926, P. 1

Lad was an eighty-pound collie, thoroughbred in spirit as well as in blood. He had the benign dignity that was a heritage from endless generations of high-strain ancestors. He had, too, the gay courage of a dArtagnan, and an uncanny wisdom. Also who could doubt it, after a look into his mournful brown eyes he had a Soul.

From Chapter 12, Lad A Dog, E.P. Dutton, 1919, 1926,

"In the Day, of Battle"

Now this is the true tale of Lad's last great adventure.

For more years than he could remember, Lad had been king. He had ruled at The Place, from boundary fence to boundary fence, from highway to Lake. He had had, as subjects, many a thoroughbred collie; and many a lesser animal and bird among the Little Folk of The Place. His rule of them all had been lofty and beneficent.

The other dogs at The Place recognized Lad's rulership recognized it without demur. It would no more have occurred to any of them, for example, to pass in or out through a doorway ahead of Lad than it would occur to a courtier to shoulder his way into the throne room ahead of his sovereign. Nor would one of them intrude on the "cave" under the living-room piano which for more than a decade had been Lad's favorite resting place.

Great was Lad. And now he was old very old.

He was thirteen which is equivalent to the human age of seventy. His long, clean lines had become blurred with flesh. He was undeniably stout. When he ran fast, he rolled slightly in his stride. Nor could he run as rapidly or as long as of yore. While he was not wheezy or asthmatic, yet a brisk five-mile walk would make him strangely anxious for an hour's rest.

He would not confess, even to himself, that age was beginning to hamper him so cruelly. And he sought to do all the things he had once done if the Mistress or the Master were looking. But when he was alone, or with the other dogs, he spared himself every needless step. And he slept a great deal.

Withal, Lad's was a hale old age. His spirit and his almost uncanny intelligence had not faltered. Save for the silvered muzzle first outward sign of age in a dog, his face and head were as classically young as ever. So were the absurdly small forepaws his one gross vanity on which he spent hours of care each day, to keep them clean and snowy.

He would still dash out of the house as of old with the wild trumpeting bark which he reserved as greeting to his two deities alone when the Mistress or the Master returned home after an absence. He would still frisk excitedly around either of them at hint of a romp. But the exertion was an exertion. And despite Lad's valiant efforts at youthfulness, everyone could see it was.

No longer did he lead the other dogs in their headlong rushes through the forest in quest of rabbits. Since he could not now keep the pace, he let the others go on these breath-and-strength-taking excursions without him; and he contented himself with an occasional lone and stately walk through the woods where once he had led the run, strolling along in leisurely fashion, with the benign dignity of some plump and ruddy old squire inspecting his estate.

There had been many dogs at The Place during the thirteen years of Lad's reign dogs of all sorts and conditions, including Lad's worshiped collie mate, the dainty gold-and-white Lady. But in this later day there were but three dogs besides himself.

One of them was Wolf, the only surviving son of Lad and Lady a slender, powerful young collie, with some of his sire's brain and much of his mother's appealing grace an ideal play dog. Between Lad and Wolf there had always been a bond of warmest affection. Lad had trained this son of his and had taught him all he knew. He unbent from his lofty dignity, with Wolf, as with none of the others.

The second of the remaining dogs was Bruce ("Sunnybank Goldsmith"), tawny as Lad himself, descendant of eleven international champions and winner of many a ribbon and medal and cup. Bruce was and is flawless in physical perfection and in obedience and intelligence.

The third was Rex, a giant, a freak, a dog oddly out of place among a group of thoroughbreds. On his father's side Rex was pure collie; on his mother's, pure bull terrier. That is an accidental blending of two breeds which cannot blend. He looked more like a fawncolored Great Dane than anything else. He was short-haired, full two inches taller and ten pounds heavier than Lad, and had the bunch-muscled jaws of a killer.

"Afterword" From Lad A Dog, E.P. Dutton & Company, 1919, 1926 Pp. 369-371

The stories of lad, in various magazines, found unexpectedly kind welcome. Letters came to me from soldiers and sailors in Europe, from hosts of children; from men and women, everywhere.

Few of the letter-writers bothered to praise the stories, themselves. But all of them praised Lad, which pleased me far better. And more than a hundred of them wanted to know if he were a real dog: and if the tales of his exploits were true.

Perhaps those of you who have followed Lad's adventures, through these pages, may also be a little interested to know more about him.

Yes, Lad was a "real" dog the greatest dog by far, I have known or shall know. And the chief happenings in nearly all of my Lad stories are absolutely true. This accounts for such measure of success as the stories may have won.

After his "Day of Battle," Lad lived for more than two years still gallant of spirit, loyally mighty of heart, uncanny of wisdom still the undisputed king of The Place's "Little People."

Then, on a warm September morning in 1918, he stretched himself to sleep in the coolest and shadiest corner of the veranda. And, while he slept, his great heart very quietly stopped beating. He had no pain, no illness, none of the distressing features of extreme age. He had lived out a full span of sixteen years years rich in life and happiness and love.

Surely, there was nothing in such a death to warrant the silly grief that was ours, nor the heartsick gloom that overhung The Place! It was wholly illogical, not to say maudlin. I admit that without argument. The cleric-author of "The Mansion Yard" must have known the same miserable sense of loss, I think, when he wrote:

"Stretched on the hearthrug in a deep content,
        Fond of the fire as I.
Oh, there was something with the old dog went
        I had not thought could die!"

We buried Lad in a sunlit nook that had been his favorite lounging place, close to the house he had guarded so long and so gallantly. With him we buried his honorary Red Cross and Blue Crossawards for money raised in his name. Above his head we set a low granite block, with a carven line or two thereon.

The Mistress wanted the block inscribed: "The Dearest Dog!" I suggested: "The Dog God Made." But we decided against both epitaphs. We did not care to risk making our dear old friend's memory ridiculous by words at which saner folk might one day sneer. So on the granite is engraved:

LAD

THOROUGHBRED IN BODY AND SOUL

Some people are wise enough to know that a dog has no soul. These will find ample theme for mirth in our foolish inscription. But no one who knew Lad will laugh at it.

ALBERT PAYSON TERHUNE.

"Sunnybank"
    Pompton Lakes,
        New Jersey.

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From His Dogs, by Kristina T. Marshall, The Collie Health Foundation, 2001, P. 29

Lad went to sleep in the shade of the veranda and never woke up (September 3, 1918). For five years he had lived with a tumor over his heart. If we accept the evidence that he was born in December of 1902, he was a just a few months shy of sixteen. For much of his life the Sunnybank dogs had followed where he led them, but recently he had been ailing, and his position as king of the Collies had finally slipped. After his fifteenth birthday, he had gone deaf, "so deaf," said Terhune, "that he could hear only a loudly raised voice. He was abnormally sensitive as to his affliction, and he used to study our faces with pathetic wistfulness to try to catch our meaning. But from that time on the other dogs paid not the slightest heed to him, nor he to them. He seemed to be shut off from them by some impalpable but insuperable wall, or to have become invisible."

It had been time for Lad to go, but the loss was still a hard one. Before he was buried in a spot Terhune called "his best-loved resting place close to the house," Anice took short clippings from several parts of his coat, white ruff and mahogany back and tawny sides, putting them for safekeeping in an envelope that is now likewise safeguarded at the Library of Congress.

The entire nation mourned Lad. At this point the stories his Master had written about him had appeared only in magazines, but they had already made Lad a favorite of readers across the country. He was important enough to merit an obituary in the first few pages of the September 14, 1918 issue of the dog magazine Field and Fancy. It reads:

 Sunnybank Lad

One Collie, who has done his bit and who will be sadly missed at Sunnybank, Pompton Lakes, NJ, the summer home of Mr. Albert Payson Terhune, the well-known writer of dog stories, is Sunnybank Lad, who died September 3rd. He was a grand old Collie, sixteen years old.

Sunnybank Lad was the hero of Mr. Terhune's true "Lad Stories" in the magazines; stories that have made a gratifying hit in America and in England; and which he is now compiling in book form. Through these stories alone, Lad netted his owner more than $7 000 in all. Not a bad record for one "non-utilitarian" dog, was it? His gifts to the Red Cross and to the Blue Cross won for Lad the Honorary Crosses from both organizations. The crosses were buried with him, and on the block of granite over his grave, Mr. Terhune has had this inscription engraved. "LAD Thoroughbred in Body and Soul."

Without vanity, Mr. Terhune can say he was the best-known dog (to the nonshow public at least) on earth. He has received nearly a thousand letters about him and people were forever motoring to Sunnybank on pilgrimages to see him. The last time he was shown, he won the Veteran Cup.

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Wolf

"Wolf who could thrash his weight in tigers and who, after Lad and Bruce had died, was the acknowledged king of all the Place's dogs."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Yet Wolf was beautiful, in his own odd way; and he was surpassingly strong and swift. That broad brain-space of his was vibrant with incipient wisdom."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunnybank Wolf
Son of Lad and Lady
(July 25, 1913 - June 24, 1923)

From: The Heart of a Dog, Chapter 8, page 214:

Wolf who could thrash his weight in tigers and who, after Lad and Bruce had died, was the acknowledged king of all the Place's dogs.

From: Wolf, Chapter 1, page 15:

He (Wolf) was undersized; though wirily powerful and as lithe as a panther. His coat, which should have been wavily abundant, was as short and as thick as a chow's. It was not unlike a chow's in texture and growth. His bushy tail was three inches too short. His head was broad where it should have been chiseled into classic lines. His muzzle was not long enough for the rest of his head. The stop above it was too prominent. His glowing eyes were round; not almond-shaped or slanted as called for in the Standard of the Breed.

In brief, he was not a true type of collie; though of royally pure lineage. He was a throwback; a throwback almost to the ancestral wolves which form the trunk and roots of the collie family-tree. It was this queer outward resemblance to a young timber-wolf which gave him his name.

Yet Wolf was beautiful, in his own odd way; and he was surpassingly strong and swift. That broad brain-space of his was vibrant with incipient wisdom.

From Gray Dawn, Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1925

Now, since the death of Bruce the Beautiful, there had been no dog on The Place that so much thought of disputing Wolf's kingship. The fiery little red-gold collie could thrash his weight in tigers. He was a terrible fighter. While he was not quarrelsome, yet he needed only the slightest encouragement to whirl into murderous action.

His reign was absolute. Not even huge Bobby thought of disputing it. Bobby and Wolf were chums. But Wolf was king; even as Bobby succeeded by acclaim to the kingship, on Wolf's death; and as did Dawn on the death of glorious Bobby, years later.

From Buff: A Collie, Pp. 332 - 336

Wolf is Lad's son wiry and undersized; yet he is as golden as Katherine Lee Bates' immortal "Sigurd." He inherits his sire's wonderful brain as well as Laddie's keen sense of humour.

Savage, and hating strangers, Wolf has learned the law to this extent: no one, walking or motoring down the drive from the gate and coming straight to the front door, must be molested; though no stranger crossing the grounds or prowling within their limits need be tolerated. 

A guest may pat him on the head, at will; and Wolf must make no sign of resentment. But all my years of training do not prevent him from snarling in fierce menace if a visitor seeks to pat his sensitive body. Very young children are the only exceptions to this rule of his. Toddling babies may maul him to their hearts' content; and Wolf revels in the discomfort.

Like Lad, he is the Mistress' dog. Not merely because he belongs to her; but because he has adopted her for his deity. 

When we leave Sunnybank, for two or three months, yearly, in midwinter, Wolf knows we are going; even before the trunks are brought from the attic for packing. And, from that time on, he is in dire, silent misery. When at last the car carries us out of the gate, he sits down, points his muzzle skyward, and shakes the air with a series of raucous wolf-howls. After five minutes of which, he sullenly, stoically, takes up the burden of loneliness until our return.

The queer part of it is that he knows as Lad and Bruce used to know in some occult way, when we are coming home. And, for hours before our return, he is in a state of crazy excitement. I don't try to explain this. I have no explanation for it. But it can be proven by anyone at Sunnybank.

The ancestral herding instinct is strong in Wolf. It made itself known, first, when a car was coming down the drive towards the house, at a somewhat reckless pace, several years ago. In the centre of the drive, several of the collie pups were playing. When the car was almost on top of the heedless bevy of youngsters, Wolf darted out, from the veranda, rushed in among the pups and shouldered them off the drive and up onto the bank at either side. He cleared the drive of every one of them; then bounded aside barely in time to escape the car's front wheels.

He was praised for this bit of quick thought and quicker action. And the praise made him inordinately proud. From that day on, he has hustled every pup or grown dog off the drive, whenever a car has come in sight through the gateway.

When the pups are too far scattered for him to round them up and shove them out of harm's way, in so short a time, he adopts a still better mode of clearing the drive. Barking in wild ecstasy, he rushes at top speed down the lawn, as though in pursuit of some highly alluring prey. No living pup can resist such a call. Every one of the youngsters dashes in pursuit. Then, as soon as the last of them is far enough away from the drive, Wolf stops and comes trotting back to the house. He has done this, again and again. To me, it savours of human reasoning.

In the car, Wolf is as efficient a guard as any policeman. When the Mistress drives alone, he sits on the front seat beside her. If she stops in front of any shop, he is at once on the alert. At such times, a woman acquaintance may come alongside for a word with her. Wolf pays no heed to the newcomer. 

But let a man approach the car; and Wolf is up on his toes, and ready for trouble. If the man lays a hand on the automobile, in the course of the chat, Wolf is at his throat. When I am driving with the Mistress, he lies on the rear seat and does not bother to act as policeman; except when we leave the car in his keeping.

People, hereabouts, know this trait of Wolf's and his aversion to any stranger. And they forbear to touch the car when talking with us. Last year, a friend came alongside, while we were waiting, one evening, for the mail to be sorted. Wolf had never before seen this man. Yet, after a single glance, the dog lost his usual air of hostility. There was a slight tremble in our friend's voice as he said to us:

"My collie was run over to-day and killed. We are mighty unhappy, at our house, this evening."

As he spoke, he laid his hand on the door of the car. Wolf lurched forward, as usual. But, to our amazement, instead of attacking, he whimpered softly and licked the man's face. Never before or since, have I seen him show any sign of friendly interest in a stranger not even to this same man, when they chanced to meet again, a few months later.
 

The New York Times, June 28, 1923

The New York Times

NEW YORK, THURSDAY JUNE 28, 1923.

Wolf the Hero of Terhune Dog Stories,

Dies Saving the Life of a Canine Tramp

Wolf, son of Lad, is dead. The shaggy collie with the eyes understood and the friendly tail made famous in the stories of Albert Payson Terhune, died like a thoroughbred, so when Wolf joined his father in the canine beyond last Sunday night there was no hanging of heads.

Wolf died a hero but yesterday the level lawns of the Terhune home at Pompton Lakes, N.J., seemed empty and the big house was curiously quiet. True, other collies were there, but so too was the big boulder out in the woods with just Wolf graven across it.

Ten years ago, when thousands of readers were following Lad's career as told by his owner, Mr. Terhune, an interesting event took place at Sunnybank. Of all the puppies that had or have come to Sunnybank, that group of newcomers was the most mischievous. Admittedly, Lad was properly proud, but readers will remember his occasional misgivings about one of the pups. The cause of parental concern was Wolf. He was a good puppy, you know, but a trifle boisterous; maybe yes, he was the littlest bit inclined to wildness.

In 1918 Lad passed on and the whole country mourned his departure. Wolf succeeded his famous father in the stories of Mr. Terhune. The son had long since, abandoned his harum scarum ways and had developed into a model member of the Terhune dog circle. In fact, Wolf became the property and the pet of Mrs. Terhune.

As Mr. Terhune put it yesterday, he became the cleverest of all the collies. One could talk to Wolf and get understanding and no back talk. One could depend on Wolf and get full loyalty. One could like Wolf and say so, and the soft, cool nose would come poking around and the tail would begin to wag till it seemed as if Wolf would wag himself off his feet.

Wolf constituted himself warden of the Terhune lawns and custodian of the driveways. When motoring parties came in and endangered the lives of the puppies playing about the driveways, Wolf, at the first sound of the motor, would dash importantly down into the drive and every puppy would scurry out of harms way.

Every evening it was the habit of Wolf to saunter off on a long walk. The exercise, it seems, prepared Wolf for sleep. Three days ago Wolf ambled away and

Down In the darkness at the railroad station some of the folks were waiting to see the Stroudsburg express flash by. It was a few minutes late. A nondescript dog, with a hunted, homeless droop to his tail, trotted onto the tracks. Far down the line there came the warning screech of the express. The canine tramp didn't pay any attention to it.

The headlight of the express shot a beam glistening along the rails. Wolf I saw the dog and the danger. With a bark and a snap the son of Lad drove the stranger to safety. The express was whistling for a crossing far past the station when they picked up what was Wolf and started for the Terhune home.

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Bobby

 

"Sunnybank Bobby was a giant auburn-and-snow collie, son of my famous Bruce."

 

 

 

 Terhune called him (Bobby), "A dog with too much brain."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"In many ways he was the wisest dog I have ever known."


Bobby

 

 

 

"There was something almost psychic, too about the big auburn dog. "

 

 

 

 

 

"In many ways he was the wisest dog I have known," said Terhune. "Tell him anything, once, and a year later he would remember it. His understanding of human speech was uncanny. Also he had a shrewd life-philosophy that was all his own."

 

 

 

 

 

 

"A mixture of comedian and canine genius, he is hard to forget, even at this long late date."

 

 

 

 

Bobby: Sunnybank Robert
Son of Bruce and Sunnybank Lass
(December 23, 1917 - June 24, 1925)

"In many ways he was the wisest dog I have ever known," said Terhune. "Tell him anything, once, and a year later he would remember it. His understanding of human speech was uncanny. Also he had a shrewd life-philosophy that was all his own."

From His Dogs, by Kristina T. Marshall, The Collie Health Foundation, 2001, Pp. 26 - 28

As Spring (1918) came on, Bruce's puppies turned from teddy bears to leggy adolescents. Sunnybank Robert was the first that Terhune registered.

Where his sire was a dark mahogany, Bobby was a redhead, with the warm color of his bright auburn coat set off by a wide white collar.

His father's big, dark eyes brimmed with what Terhune called "a perfect 'one-man dog' obedience and goodness," and Bobby inherited those soulful eyes and the character that went with them. Bobby was a very different puppy than harum-scarum Wolf had been. According to his master, he "had a sagacious patience that would have fitted better the body of an elderly St. Bernard. No event of life seemed to ruffle him."

As dear as Bobby was to Bert, however, Terhune never made him the hero of a dog story. There would be books called Lad.' A Dog, and Bruce, and Treve, and Wolf, and Gray Dawn, but not Bobby, though it is possible that the Collie in Lochinvar Luck was named in his honor. His Master made up for this by using Bobby as an example in many magazine articles on dog psychology and training.

In The Saturday Evening Post, for instance, Terhune called Bobby "the most teachable dog I have owned, a dog with too much brain." He was only four months old when his Master promoted him to housedog, and he seemed to instinctively know the rules of indoor living. "Before he was allowed in the house," said Terhune, "I taught him the first thing that every dog should be taughtto lie down at command. I did this by pressing my hand lightly, but with increasing firmness, on his hips, all the while repeating the words 'Lie down!' As his hips sank to the ground I shifted my hand pressure to his shoulders and kept on saying 'Lie down!' In a lesson or two he had grasped the connection between the action and the words. Then, when I told him to lie down, I pointed to some particular spot on the ground, teaching him to lie there. In a few lessons he learned to go and lie down at any place I might point to, without the accompanying words."

One of those places was a special nook in the house, Bert reported. "Between my desk chair and a filing cabinet in my study was a space just wide enough for his slim young red body to fit comfortably into. Pointing to it, on his first day indoors, I told him to go there and lie down. From that time on, for seven years, it was his designated resting place when he and I were in the study together. In a few months he was so big that it must have been hideously uncomfortable for him to squeeze his great bulk into such a small space. But it had been assigned to him, and he continued to use it after that single command."

A single command was often all that was needed for Bobby. Terhune's examples go on: "Once he followed me to a little-used room on the top floor, to which I went to find some old letters. Pointing to a certain chair, I bade him get in it and lie there. It was two years before he chanced to follow me into that room again. On the threshold, and making no gestures, I told him to find his own chair, out of the four that were there, and to get into it. Only a moment did Bobby pause, peering worriedly at the chairs. Then he remembered, and mounted the one I had indicated to him on that first visit."

Bobby seemed to enjoy learning, as another of Terhune's anecdotes suggests. "It was hard for Bobby, in awkward puppyhood, to climb stairs. But after the second effort he mastered it. Thenceforth, for a month, he was so egregiously proud of the accomplishment that he would run up and down the stairs again and again as long as anyone would stand watching him."

Those stairs became the stage for one of the most spectacular of Bobby's tricks. "I would be in the living room, we will say, with several guests," explained Terhune in a 1928 article for The Mentor. "Bobby would be lying somewhere nearby-perhaps under a table or window seat. In a monotonous tone and without gesticulating or looking at the dog I would say: `Bobby, I am going to get ready for lunch. If you want to come along go upstairs as far as the landing and then turn around and wag your tail.' Instantly Bobby would get to his feet, trot to the stairs, climb to the first landing and then turn around and wag his tail. Visitors were mightily impressed. They vowed he understood every word I had said. As a matter of fact, Bobby understood just three words in all my harangue. These words he had been accustomed to since puppyhood. They were 'Bobby' and 'come' and 'upstairs.' Accordingly, he would go upstairs and on the way would wonder why I was not following him. He was too large to turn comfortably to look back until he reached the broader space of the landing. At that point, of course, he would turn and look for me, wagging his tail as he did so."

Bobby could sometimes be too smart for his own good, such as when he was taught to retrieve the morning newspapers from the entrance gate and bring them down the drive to the house. As Terhune recalled for Reader's Digest over fifteen years after Bobby's death, "So proud was he of doing this and of my praise that the next morning I found 23 papers at the door. In the wake of the newsman Bobby had collected a paper from every porch and gate within half a mile. I had a sweet hour's chore sorting and smoothing them, and restoring them to irate neighbors."

This exploit of Bobby's did become part of one of Terhune's dog stories, butpoor Bobby!for the purposes of plot Terhune attributed it to another Collie, Gray Dawn.

Still another trait of Bobby's became the inspiration for more of his Master's fiction. Bert said of Bobby that "his mistress once praised him for bringing home a pretty lace handkerchief he had found on the highway. Until I forbade any further gifts, he bore to her every roadside offering he could find: a car crank, an umbrella with a Chinese sword handle, a devastatingly dead chicken, and an equally flattened skunk." In the story "Old Dog; New Tricks," it is Lad who has the obsession of bringing home to Sunnybank treasures he finds along the highroad.

But Bobby did not mind that his adventures were making other dogs famous. His Master was the only thing he cared about. "When I came to the door of my room in the morning, Bob was always lying across the threshold," said Terhune. "At first sight of me he sprang up, put his paws on my chest, and burst into a salvo of hysterical shrieks and howls and moans that would disgrace a moon-baying puppy. It was a dramatic reunion after eight hours of separation. Bob reveled in it. For several minutes this rackety welcome lasted. Then he quieted down and spent the rest of the day in silence."

Bobby "was uneasy whenever I was out of his sight," said Terhune, and continued:

Once I left him indoors while I went to the windmill, about two hundred yards from the house. There I mounted a ladder to the top of the tank. The Mistress had arranged to let Bobby out of the house as soon as she should see me climb to the tank top.

Out he ran to find me. Instead of sniffing for my trail he made a beeline for the outdoor hammock desk under the trees, where I do most of my work in fair weather. Failing to find me there, he galloped off to the kennels and thence to the boathouse, and from there to afield where the men were mowing.

In other words, he used his reasoning powers, as might a human, seeking me in the several places where experience told him I was most likely to be found; and first of all going to the desk where I spent much more of my time than at any one other outdoor spot.

Failing to locate me by reason, he dropped back to instinct. Nose to ground, he cast about until he struck my trail, following it at top speed to the foot of the windmill ladder. There, of course, the scent vanished. So Bobby cast about again, twice or three times, to make sure he had not been mistaken. Always his search brought him to the ladder foot. Presently he lay down there to wait. He did not know where I was. But he knew where last I had left the ground, and he seemed to understand I must return to earth at the same place.

"In many ways he was the wisest dog I have known," said Terhune. "Tell him anything, once, and a year later he would remember it. His understanding of human speech was uncanny. Also he had a shrewd life-philosophy that was all his own."

In "The Passing of Gray Dawn," from The Way of a Dog, page 99, Terhune writes:

At that time my house chum and car-dog was Bobby, a big auburn collie with more brains than any other dog I have seen.

And in "The Biography of a Puppy," The Way of a Dog, P. 280, he says,

Here was no super-puppy (referring to Sandy), as had been Sunnybank Bobby; knowing by strange instinct the things that may or may not be done, and needing only a single lesson in any accomplishment in order to acquire it for life.

From My Friend the Dog, Grosset and Dunlap, New York, 1926, "The Dogs of Sunnybank," Pp. 312-313

My big dog, Bobby, (old Bruce's son, Sunnybank Robert Bruce), had a sagacious patience that would have fitted better the body of an elderly Saint Bernard. No ordinary event of life seemed to ruffle him. A motor car broke his leg in two places, when he was a puppy, and the anguish of bonesetting could not wring a whimper from him.

When I came to the door of my room in the morning, Bob was always lying across the threshold. And at first sight of me he sprang up, put his paws on my chest, and burst into a salvo of hysterical shrieks and howls and moans that would disgrace a moon-baying puppy. It was a dramatic reunion after eight hours of separation. Bob reveled in it.

For several minutes this rackety welcome lasted. Then he quieted down and spent the rest of the day in silencealways except when the sight or sound of a motor car woke him to furious action. He limped no longer, but he never forgot the cause of his broken leg, and an approaching car sent him into paroxysms of rage.

Bobby is dead. Blithely would I spend a year's income to bring him to life. In many ways he was the wisest dog I have known. Tell him anything, once, and a year later he would remember it. His understanding of human speech was uncanny. Also he had a shrewd life-philosophy that was all his own. He was my loved and adoring chum. To this day I miss him, keenly.

From The Reader's Digest, November, 1941, pages 13-15: "The Most Unforgettable Character I've Met," by Albert Payson Terhune

Sunnybank Bobby was a giant auburn-and-snow collie, son of my famous Bruce. He died 17 years ago. Yet I remember him more vividly than many a man or woman who has died since then. When he was only five months old I chose him, after close study of a litter of eight, to be my housedog and chum.

Bobby was one of those rare dogs who need no housebreaking, who need to hear a command only once to learn its meaning and remember it. On that first day I pointed out to him the spot in my study and another in the dining room where he was to lie. Never did he forget.

Bobby had the most remarkable brain of any dog in my long experience. He took deep pride in his own achievements. I taught him as a puppy to climb the stairs to the second floor. So grand an accomplishment did this seem to Bobby that he scampered up and down those stairs for weeks, whenever there was a guest before whom he could show off. It was the same with each succeeding thing he learned.

Always when I woke in the morning he was standing in mute patience beside my bed. As I opened my eyes he went daft with joy, and shrieked for perhaps two minutes in accompaniment to a pattering dance. After that he lapsed into sober silence for the rest of the day.

Once he followed me to a little-used room on the top floor, to which I went to find some old letters. Pointing to a certain chair, I bade him get in it and lie there. It was two years before he chanced to follow me into that room again. On the threshold, and making no gestures, I told him to find his own chair, out of the four that were there, and to get into it. Only a moment did Bobby pause, peering worriedly at the chairs. Then he remembered, and mounted the one I had indicated to him on that other visit.

After our first tramp on the highroad he needed no summons from me to bring him racing back to my side at the approach of a car, and to keep him pacing slowly there until the chugging monster had passed.

When he was ten months old, however, a car speeding down our driveway broke Bobbys left foreleg in two places. He came bounding up to me on three legs, calmly certain that I could make everything all right. After weeks in a plaster cast and then in splints, the leg was as well as ever. But for some reason Bobby limped and refused to touch it to the ground. He was due to enter his first dog show 48 hours later. Lame, he would be disqualified.

Quick measures were needed, so I wound a bandage tightly around his uninjured right front leg. For a time he tried to hop kangaroo-wise. Then, to save the bandaged leg, he put the other to the ground and discovered he could use it.

At the show he strode into the ring, walking four-square and won two ribbons and a cup.

His scenting power was as keen and sure as a bloodhound's. Never confused, he picked up my trail again and again through much-traveled streets and roads. Only once did Bobby fail to overtake me: on that day he could not get out of the house until my evening hike was almost ended. But then he hit the trail and held it. He arrived home two minutes behind me, carrying between his strong jaws a leather cigar case that had fallen from my pocket on the road.

Then came my folly in teaching him to bring back our newspapers early in the morning from the gateway, a furlong from the house. So proud was he of doing this and of my praise that the next morning I found 23 papers at the door. In the wake of the newsman Bobby had collected a paper from every porch and gate within half a mile. I had a sweet hours chore sorting and smoothing them, and restoring them to irate neighbors.

His mistress once praised him for bringing home a pretty lace handkerchief he had found on the highway. Until I forbade any further gifts, he bore to her every roadside offering he could find: a car crank, an umbrella with a Chinese sword handle, a devastatingly dead chicken, and an equally flattened skunk.

Bobby had a mania for protecting me. The first time he saw me dive off a springboard, he plunged into the lake and towed me ashore. I submitted to the painful towing, lest he think such lifesaving was listed among the Forbidden Things, but always afterward I shut him up when I went swimming.

There was something almost psychic, too about the big auburn dog. When I was eating in the dining room he always lay in his corner, his eyes on me. But when I chanced to be drinking there he would get up quietly after my second or third drink and leave the room to the merriment of the guests who had seen him do it before. I was not in the least drunk, but he seemed to note and resent a subtle change in me that no human could have seen. If I called him, he came back instantly and stood at my side, head and tail adroop as if in shame, awaiting my orders. But as soon as my attention was turned he would go out again; nor come in except at my command, and then only for a moment.

When Bobby was nearly eight years old, he went insane. Our veterinary told me it was meningitis. A second vet declared Bobby had rabies and must be shot. I did not shoot him. For two days and nights I stayed in my study with him, alone. At his wildest he was lovingly obedient to me, as always. How he would have behaved toward others, I dont know. Those 48 hours were horrible, yet I would not give that last bare chance of saving my chum's life if nursing and medicine could do it.

Nursing and medicine could not do it. Bobby came out of a last spasm, straightened up and walked over shakily to me, and touched my hand. Then he lay down beside me and pillowed his great head upon my hiking boots as he had so often done.

And so he died. Mixture of comedian and canine genius, he is hard to forget, even at this long late date.

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Bruce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"When we carved on Bruce's headstone the inscription, The Dog Without a Fault, we referred less to his physical magnificence than to the soul and the heart of him."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bruce "was wholly different from Lad. Yet he was clever. And he had a strange sweetness of nature that I have found in no other dog. That, and a perfect one-man-dog obedience and goodness."

 

Bruce: Sunnybank Goldsmith
(August 8, 1909 - February 22, 1920)

From Buff: A Collie, Pp. 328 - 332

Then there was Bruce, hero of my dogbook of the same name. Bruce's pedigree name was Sunnybank Goldsmith; and for many years' he brought local dog-show fame to the Place by an unbroken succession of victories. A score of cups and medals and an armful of blue ribbons attest his physical perfection.

But dog-shows take no heed of a collie's mentality, nor of the thousand wistfully lovable, traits which make him what he is. When we carved on Bruce's headstone the inscription, The Dog Without a Fault, we referred less to his physical magnificence than to the soul and the heart of him.

He was wholly different from Lad. He lacked Lad's d'Artagnan-like dash and gaiety and uncanny wisdom. Yet he was clever. And he had a strange sweetness of nature that I have found in no other dog. That, and a perfect one-man-dog obedience and goodness.

Like Lad, he was never struck or otherwise punished; and never needed such punishment. He and Laddie were dear friends, from the moment they met. And each was the only grown male dog with which the other would consent to be on terms of cordiality.

Bruce had a melancholy dignity, behind which lurked and elusive sense of fun.

For his children-he had many dozens of them-he felt an eternal disgust; even aversion. Let visitors start to walk towards the puppy-yards, and Bruce at once lowered his head and tail and slunk away. When a group of the Puppies, out for a gallop, caught sight of their sire and bore down gleefully upon him, Bruce would stalk off in utter gloom. Too chivalric to hurt or even to growl at any of the scrambling oncoming babies, he would none the less take himself out of their way with all possible haste.

But, on occasion, he could rise to a sense of his duties as a parent. As when one of the young dogs was left tied for a few minutes to a clothesline, three summers ago. The youngster gnawed the line in two and pranced merrily away on a rabbit hunt, dragging ten feet of rope with him.

When I came home and saw the severed clothesline, I knew what must be happening, somewhere out in the woods. The dangling rope was certain to catch in some bush or stump. And the puppy, in his struggles, would snarl himself inextricably. There, unless help should come, he must starve to death.

For twenty-four hours, two of the men and the Mistress and myself scoured the forests and hills for a radius of several miles. We looked everywhere a luckless puppy would be likely to entangle himself. We shouted ourselves hoarse in hope of an answering cry from the lost one. After a day and a night of this fruitless search, the Mistress and I set off again; this time taking Bruce along. At least, we started off taking him. After the first hundred yards, he took us. Why I bothered to follow him, I don't yet know.

He struck a bee line, through woods and brambles, travelling at a hand gallop and stopping every few moments for me to catch up with him. At the end of a mile, he plunged into a copse that was choked with briars. In the centre of this he gave tongue, with a salvo of thunderous barks. Twice before, I had searched this copse. But, at his urgency, I entered it again.

In its exact centre, hidden from view by a matted screen of briars and leaves, I found the runaway. His rope had caught in a root. He had then wound himself up in it, until the line enmeshed him and held him close to earth. A twist of it, around his jaws, had kept him from making a sound. He was half dead from fright and thirst.

Having found and saved the younger dog, Bruce promptly lost all interest in him. He seemed ashamed, rather than pleased, at our laudations.

On such few times as we went motoring without him, Bruce was always on hand to greet us on our return. And his greeting took an odd form. Near the foot of the drive was a big Forsythia bush. At sight of the approaching car, Bruce invariably rushed over to this bush and hid behind it. At least he bent his head until a branch of the bush hid it from view.

Then, tail a-quiver, he would crouch there; not realising that all of him except his head was in plain sight to us. When at last the car was almost alongside, he would jump out; and stand wagging his plumed tail excitedly, to note our surprise at his unforeseen presence. Never did this jest pall on him. Never did he have the faintest idea that his head was the only part of his beautiful self which was not clearly visible.

Bruce slept in my bedroom. In the morning, when one of the maids knocked at the door to wake me, he would get to his feet, cross the room to the bed, and lay his cold muzzle against my face, tapping at my arm or shoulder with his paw until I opened my eyes. Then, at once, he went back to his rug and lay down again. Nor, if I failed to climb out of bed for another two hours, would he disturb me a second time.

He had waked me, once. After that, it was up to me to obey the summons or to disregard it. That was no concern of Bruce's. His duty was done!

But how did a mere dog know that the knock on the door was a signal for me to get up? Never by any chance did he disturb me until he heard that knock.

He was psychic, too. Rex, a dog that I had had long before, used to sleep in a certain corner of the lower hall. He slept there for years. He was killed. Never afterward would Bruce set foot on the spot where Rex had been wont to lie. Time and again I have seen him skirt that part of the floor, making a semi-circular detour in order to avoid stepping there.   I have tested him a dozen times, in the presence of guests. Always the result was the same.

Peace to his stately, lovable, whimsical soul! He was my dear chum. And his going has left an ache.

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Gray Dawn

 

"He was a blue merle, of unusual purity of shade . . .. The merle's chief hue is a silvery gray-blue, as the old British fanciers named it.  Such a merle was Sunnybank Gray Dawn. Often a merle will have one or both of his eyes marledthat is, of a whitey-blue color. Dawn's deepset eyes were as darkly brown as those of his glorious sire, Bruce."

 

 

"Gray dawn had a talent for friendliness which would have been worth seven hundred votes to any small-town politician. He fairly exhaled an aura of good-fellowship, and he gave the impression to new visitors at The Place that they had won his instant affection."

 


 

"There was something with the old dog went, I had not thought could die."

Gray Dawn
Son of Bruce and Sunnybank Gael
(December 12, 1918 - May 30, 1929)

From Gray Dawn, Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, New York, 1925

The Mistress looked ponderingly at the tiny collie. Then her glance strayed out into the dawning day. The downpour had ceased. But the skies were still snarled up with iron-gray clouds shot with silvery tints. A streak and a spatter of shimmering white, in the east, showed where the sun would rise in another half hour. Sere and pale-tan in hue, a branchful of unfallen oak leaves swayed in front of the window.

Gray, silver, snow white, flecked with ashes-of-gold, she said, half to herself. The same color scheme as the puppy's. I'll take it as an omen. I'll name him'Gray Dawn.'   (P. 7)

He was a blue merle, of unusual purity of shade . . .. The merle's chief hue is a silvery grayblue, as the old British fanciers named it. A muddy or brownish gray is off color. The ideal shade is the vivid silver gray with bluish lights in it. Such a merle was Sunnybank Gray Dawn. Often a merle will have one or both of his eyes marledthat is, of a whitey-blue color. Dawn's deepset eyes were as darkly brown as those of his glorious sire, Bruce. (Pp. 7-8)

Dawn was barely a year old. In size he was gigantic beyond the run of other pure-bred collies, for he stood twenty-seven inches at the shoulder and his gaunt silver-gray body weighed close to eighty pounds. At heart he was still a bumptious puppy. (P. 24)

Gray dawn had a talent for friendliness which would have been worth seven hundred votes to any small-town politician. He fairly exhaled an aura of good-fellowship, and he gave the impression to new visitors at The Place that they had won his instant affection.

As a matter of proven record, they had done nothing of the kind.

He enjoyed meeting new people. He was immensely interested in everything that happened. That was all. He did not slip away unobtrusively, as did Bobby and as had Lad, when outsiders sought to pet him or to talk to him. He did not suffer such attentions with haughty aloofness, as did Bruce; nor greet them with a snarl and a flash of teeth, like Wolf. Neither did he repel advances with Treve's melodramatically harmless growl. (Pp. 90-91)

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From His Dogs, by Kristina T. Marshall, The Collie Health Foundation, 2001, Pp. 83-84

Dawn was now king of the Sunnybank Collies. "After Bobby's death Dawn grieved as might a human for a human friend," said Terhune. "The crazy bumptiousness was forever gone from him. Calmly, as if by right, he stepped into Bobby's place as our one housedog. From that day he was inseparable from the Mistress and myself." He now had Lad's piano cave and full dining room privileges. The silly, destructive puppy had come a long way.

Gray Dawn represented an older era in Sunnybank's history. Now that Jock, Wolf, and Bobby were gone, he was the sole male survivor of the days of Lad and Bruce. In order to tie the past to the present, Bert had bred Bobby to Fair Ellen in 1924. In the summer of 1925, he repeated the experiment, and bred Bobby's brother Gray Dawn to Victrix, the daughter of Chaeroplane.

The other pups were sold, but one stayed. The pup was registered as SUNNYBANK SANDSTORM, Sandy for short, and began to learn how to be a housedog.

 

From The Way of a Dog, Grosset & Dunlap, 1932

Sunnybank Gray Dawn is dead.

He died on Memorial Day, 1929; falling quietly asleep on his rug close beside the desk in my study here at Sunnybank and forgetting to awaken.

In his sleep, his mighty heart stopped beating. That was all. There was no pain, no terror.

He was born during a spectacular December thunderstorm in 1918. I don't care much for merle collies. But the Mistress had always wanted one, so I gave this silver-gray baby collie to her. (Pp. 94-95)

He was more than ten years old. And, during and after my illness he seemed to have aged faster and faster. There was nothing the matter with him that we or any vet could learn. But he was aging. Something was gone. Nobody knew what. At times he was as racketingly boisterous as ever. But his daily gallops grew shorter and slower.

And he spent all his spare time close beside the Mistress and myself. It was as though he grudged any moments spent away from us whom he loved. He would lie and look at us as if he were trying to fix our faces indelibly in his memory.

There were plenty of signs to warn us of what was coming. But, because of his oxlike strength and gay spirit, I thought the end must be much farther off than it was.

Then came the evening when he fell peacefully asleep, stretched out there on the rug beside my desk.

I missed him, and I still miss him, more bitterly than a mere collie should be missed. His going took something unsparable out of my life.

There was something with the old dog went, I had not thought could die. (Pp. 102-103)

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