Excerpt: Hank’s in trouble, and there’s talk of sending him to Obedience School. Hank decides to hide in the machine shed where he finds Drover. Hank says…
“Heh. Your Statue Trick might have worked on some dogs, son, but it was your misfortune to be tracked down by the Head of Ranch Security.”
“Darn. What are you doing here?”
“Oh, I just wanted to, uh, look around and, you know, this place where you…” I glanced over both shoulders and lowered my voice. “Drover, may I confide in you? I mean, can we speak dog-to-dog?”
“Oh yeah, ’cause I’m a dog and so are you.”
“I know, but I’m talking about something more profoon than our mere dogness.”
“I don’t wear perfume.”
“I’m aware that you don’t wear perfume. If you did, you wouldn’t smell so bad.”
“Yeah, and I’d be sneezing my head off. Perfume really stirs up my allergies.” He sneezed. “See whad I beed? Just the bention of berfube bakes be sdeeze.”
I closed my eyes and counted to ten. “Drover, let’s begin again. May I confide in you? May I tell you a tale of woe?”
“Oh sure ’cause I’ve got one too. They chopped it off when I was a pup.”
“Are you trying to be funny?”
“I don’t think so. There’s nothing funny about a stub tail.”
“Please dry up and listen to my tale of woe. We can begin with a simple statement of fact. Drover I have a problem….”
“That’s what I thought.”
I gave him a steely glare. “Do you want to hear my story or not?”
“I already know. I heard ’em talking. They’re going to send you to Obedience School, and I guess you don’t want to go.”
“Of course I don’t want to go. Do you have any idea what happens at these so-called Obedience Schools?”
“Well, let me think. You have to be nice all the time? That wouldn’t be so bad.”
“Wouldn’t be so bad! Okay, pal, you want to know about Obedience School?”
He was silent for a moment. “Well, I’m not sure. It isn’t scary, is it?”
“You can decide that for yourself.”
“I hate scary stories.”
Just listen. Here’s the scoop on Doggie School.” In the gloom of Drover’s Secret Sanctuary, I began pacing back and forth. “First off, we can drop the business about it being a school. That’s a joke. People don’t send naughty dogs to a school. They send them to a DUNGEON. See, right in the middle of downtown Twitchell, there’s this old castle, built many years ago by a wicked king. It’s a huge brooding mountain of stone with towers and drawbridges and all that other stuff you find with castles. And it’s full of hooting owls and black cats and creatures that make terrible sounds in the night.
“That’s where they’re going to hold this so-called school. Angry dog owners drive up to the drawbridge with their naughty dogs, see, and this guy comes out of the castle to meet them. Description: eight feet tall, bulging muscles, menacing green eyes, crooked nose, and scars all over his face. When he laughs, birds fly away and snakes dive into holes, is how wicked his laugh is. Oh, and he carries a long whip…and he wears a dead squirrel on his head!”
I heard Drover gasp. “A dead squirrel!”
“Yes sir, because he has no hair, because it all fell out years ago. His heart is so wicked it poisoned all his hair roots.”
“Oh my gosh!”
I plunged on. “He collects all the naughty dogs and leads them into the castle, through long echoing hallways, and down a long flight of stairs. The deeper they go, the colder and darker it gets, until they reach…THE DUNGEON OF DOOM.”
Why is Hank in trouble this time? Will he go to Obedience School? Is it truly a Dungeon of Doom?
John Erickson – has written 6 posts on this site.
John R. Erickson, a former cowboy and ranch manager, is gifted with a storyteller's knack for spinning a yarn. Through the eyes of Hank the Cowdog, a smelly, smart-aleck Head of Ranch Security, Erickson gives readers a glimpse of daily life on a ranch in the West Texas Panhandle. This series of books and tapes is in school libraries across the country, has sold more then six million copies, is a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and is the winner of the 1993 Audie for Outstanding Children's Series from the Audio Publisher's Association. Publishers Weekly calls Hank a "grassroots publishing phenomena," and USA Today says this is "the best family entertainment in years."
The road to stardom for Hank, however, wasn't all dog biscuits and gravy. Erickson graduated from the University of Texas in 1966 and studied for two years at Harvard Divinity School. He began to publish short stories in 1967 while working full-time as a cowboy, farmhand, and ranch manager in Texas and Oklahoma. Hank and his sidekick Drover are dogs Erickson worked with on the range. This mixture of true life experience, fun, and adventure has gained Hank a loyal following of thousands of children and adults. In 1982, however, Erickson was at his rope's end. "I was working out in the cold; there was 8 inches of snow on the ground," he says, "I had just gotten a couple of rejection slips from New York publishers; and, I had a wife with two kids and another one on the way." So, with $2000 in borrowed money, Erickson started his own publishing company, appropriately named Maverick Books. Hank the Cowdog made his debut in the pages of The Cattleman, a magazine for adults. An obvious favorite of readers, Erickson included two of Hank's humorous stories in Maverick Book's first publishing effort, The Devil in Texas (1982). Erickson began selling books from his pickup truck at cattle auctions, rodeos, and just about any place cowboys gathered.
John has been a popular speaker at the THSC Southwest Convention and Family Conference over the past several years.