When I was a young child, my mother bought me a book by (Margaret) Marshall Saunders entitled, Beautiful Joe. It was the book, along with Black Beauty, that made me aware of animal abuse. I have been a life-long animal lover ever since reading those two books, and they are partly the reason that I became so heavily involved in dog rescue and fostering.
Beautiful Joe was an actual dog from the town of Meaford, Ontario, whose story inspired the bestselling 1893 novel Beautiful Joe, which contributed to worldwide awareness of animal cruelty.
Often described as a mutt or a mixed breed, he was originally owned by a man, who abused him to the point of near death, and even cut off his ears and tail. Walter Moore, father of Louise Moore, rescued the dog in 1890 from what likely would have been a violent death. In 1892, Margaret Marshall Saunders (1861-1947), first learned about Beautiful Joe when she visited her brother and his wife, Louise Moore. Saunders was so touched by Joe's story that she wrote a novel-length, fictionalized, autobiographical version of it, entitled Beautiful Joe. Saunders relocated the story’s setting and changed the family's name to Morris to win a literary contest sponsored by the American Humane Education Society.
To quote Amazon.com, “The book was first published in 1893. Both the book and its subject received worldwide attention. It was the first Canadian book in history to sell over a million copies, and by the late 1930s had sold over 7 million copies worldwide. Saunders did not avoid comparison of her work to the similarly-themed Black Beauty. Indeed, she makes reference to Black Beauty in the very first page of Beautiful Joe, not referring to it by name but writing [from Joe's viewpoint] ‘I have seen my mistress laughing and crying over a little book that she says is a story of a horse's life.’ Joe goes on to say that he will write the story of a dog's life, to similarly please his owner. Thus, within the context of the book at least, Beautiful Joe is directly inspired by Black Beauty.”
And, there you have it. If you love animals, especially dogs, read this book. Yes, you will cry and be horrified by the cruelty that humans inflict on innocent creatures. But, don’t stick your head in the sand. It takes very little effort to help creatures who can’t help themselves. Think about not tolerating animal cruelty, and get involved to stop it when you see it. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Til next time,