That’s how I will always remember Maurice Sendak.
Is that weird? Let me explain…
As a child, and really, until I was in college, I have been surrounded by German Shepherds. I have some very early, vague memories of one of our German Shepherds, Kaiser, pulling our sled (our being my sister and I) around the backyard of our home in Minnesota. He was a beautiful dog and gave Rin Tin Tin a run for his money in the looks department. Later we had another German Shepherd, Frasier, who I used to imagine was part wolf. He was almost completely black and well over a hundred pounds and I took such pleasure in the gasps (seriously) of admiration he would receive while walking him around Lake Harriet on the weekends. He had the silkiest fur and was absolutely stunning. Later we had Quito, Petza, and my beloved Maggie May (yes, after the song). Maggie was my fierce protector during college and the sweetest dog you have ever met. I had her since she was born and her passing two years ago remains one of the saddest days of my life.
So what does that have to do with Maurice Sendak? Well, he was a well-known dog lover. Especially German Shepherds. His long-time canine companion was a German Shepherd named Herman (named after Herman Melville). I know this because when I was younger, I read a book by the Monks of New Skete called the “Art of Raising Your Puppy”. The Monks of New Skete are a group of Franciscan Monks who breed and raise German Shepherds. I could go on and on about this book (they have others too) but I’ll try to stay on point. In their book they have an interview with Maurice where he talks about his relationship with his dogs (his dogs were all trained by the Monks and so they had a very close relationship). Ever since reading that, I have felt a special kinship to this beloved author. He’s a German Shepherd lover just like me! He gets it! Reading his books were always that much more enjoyable knowing we had a common interest. I love dogs. I’ve had many breeds of dogs apart from German Shepherds. But let me tell you, nothing compares. They are a breed above the rest.
To most Maurice Sendak is a beloved and venerated author. To me, he was an advocate and lover of dogs who wrote some amazing books.