Phoebe and Ito are dogs (Epic Rites Press 2019), carved out of the ABCs wonderfully by veteran writer John Yamrus and illustrated sweetly and energetically by the compassionate artist Mish, is an important, eye opening tale as well as a cautionary one. And although the brother and sister dogs do many dog-things like play with sticks and chase rabbits, there’s a very significant message in this children’s book about the magical quality of animals as well as a gentle warning about human nature.
That warning is about getting in touch with the core of your being. It’s about accepting yourself and seeing how powerful and freeing, and in this case, impactful this can be. In a land where, as Alan Watts so bluntly put it, “knowing yourself is taboo,” this is a life-altering concept, especially for children. They are indoctrinated into a society that works against this concept from birth. It brings to mind, Socrates’ advice or warning, “Know thyself” and as the artist Louise Bourgeois so wonderfully added to the colossal two word advice or warning, “[Know thyself] so you can live a better life.” Without giving away the story line, the book has the ability not to only change lives, but is capable of also saving them.
The overall message implied by the dogs being the subject of this sweet tale is the most important one, especially in these times when the human ego is destroying the planet beyond saving. Dogs are exceptional creatures and are never to be seen as below humans. The message is clear: dogs save our lives. Forget the mythical unicorn—dogs are the magical creatures right under our noses. On a personal note, I’ve always referred to my cat as my “furry little dreamcatcher.” She sleeps alongside my shape and when I have a bad dream or nightmare she’s there purring and slowing down my racing heart, absorbing the bad energy. In Phoebe and Ito are dogs, it’s quite the same. The dogs are there to rescue the humans. Phoebe and Ito may be “dogs,” but I’m sure you’ll see the brother and sister cocker spaniels are much, much more in this significant tale of the importance of animals and knowing who you really are.