How did I come up with the idea of a mental patient who hides a dog under his bed?
Roy's sidekick Harry has a dog who plays an important part in the story. As a child, I remember my father, who was the superintendent of a large state mental hospital, coming home one day and saying, "This was a bad day." When Mom asked why, he said, "There was a patient who had a puppy hidden under his bed. I had to take it away."
That sad little incident is the source of Harry and Bullet in this story. Harry names his dog Bullet because his buddy, the lead character in the story, is a mental patient who thinks he is the cowboy Roy Rogers.
The problem of displaced animals (throw aways) was huge at the hospital where I grew up. People from town came out and dumped grocery sacks full of kittens and puppies to roam the grounds. The dogs often roamed in packs and had to literally be hunted, shot and killed. Anyone who loves animals would be incensed at the situation at that time.
So I made the love of animals a major theme in the stories.
Harry's love of animals is just an expression of my own wish that, way back then, things could have been different than they were. Maybe, too, it's my way of saying to my Dad, "Pop, I still remember the pain you felt more than 50 years ago when you had to confiscate a dog from underneath some patient's bed."
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