Fifty years ago, William Michael Ryan joined the staff of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or, as it is affectionately known to its friends, the "Doghouse." Today he is Special Agent No. 1. This frequently touching, often hilarious, and always entertaining book describes Ryan's adventures with animals during this span of half a century -- adventures that have brought him into contact with more than half a million beasts, birds, and reptiles.
Among the animals he has met are such improbable characters as the Professor, a simian genius who disrupted New York harbor for weeks; Rosebud, who became the subject of the most hysterical elephant hunt in the history of Yonkers; Mukluk, the Eskimo husky with a fondness for beer; Dushka and Sachka, two giant Russian wolves who terrorized the guests of one of New York's most fashionable hotels.
In a city like New York many animals have not yet come to terms without civilization. A cat sometimes mistakes a chimney for a brick-lined mouse hole and gets trapped in it. A horse may find himself unintentionally in somebody's living room. Chimpanzees wake up in roominghouse beds. A bull suddenly materializes in a powder room, a fourteen-foot snake, uninvited, decides to take a bath in a lady's tub, and lions with no other pressing engagements may stroll nonchalantly through Manhattan's streets. These are only a few of the situations with which Bill Ryan has had to cope.
This book is not only the warmhearted, amusing account of Bill Ryan's incredible true adventures with animals -- it is also the absorbing story of a unique organization, the oldest and largest humane society in the Western Hemisphere. In telling of Ryan's career with the ASPCA, Lloyd Alexander has written an engaging book that will be thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who loves animals. At the same time, Fifty Years in the Doghouse offers important insights into the relationships between people and their pets. Underlying it is a sense of respect for all living things. As Lloyd Alexander says: "Laws assure animals of protection -- formally, officially, set down in black and white. But in the long run the best protection is the human heart."