But recently I brought home a new book by the relatively unknown English author and illustrator Claire Messer called Lazybones. The book came out in April. It’s the second for Ms. Messer, whose first book Grumpy Pants, about a penguin having a bad day, came out in 2016. And, for whatever reason, my kids have taken to it. It has shot up the Billboard charts for most requested book.
The story of Lazybones is the story of a black lab named Robert Exelby Perdendo, better known as Lazybones, because he doesn’t like to go for walks. Lazybones lives with a man called Dad, who is his owner. There are only 30 pages, with about half of those with words on them and, even then, no more than a sentence.
But a lot happens. For the first quarter of the book, what keeps my kids engaged is the joke that Lazybones is training Dad, not the other way around. It’s funny and, if you’re a pet owner, also true. That is how it works. The second quarter is all about hide-and-seek, as Lazybones tries to avoid walks. And then, right at the start of the third quarter, by which time Lazybones has been taken out on his walks Lazybones meets a little pug, Arthur, who says to Robert (Lazybones), “Woof! Hi! I’m Arthur. Would you like to play?” Now what’s notable about this is the pink heart that immediately forms between Robert and Arthur. They are in love.
Soon Robert and Arthur are playing hide-and-seek together, along with a pair of Scotties, a dachshund and a Dalmatian. And whilst Lazybones hides, Arthur thinks, “Wow! He’s really good.” On the following page, Lazybones and Arthur look at each other affectionately, wagging their tails. Arthur has found Lazybones. “Aha! Found you! How come you’re so good at hide-and-seek,?” he asks. Again, the pink heart appears. The story ends with Lazybones carrying his leash to Dad, who is hiding in a curtain to avoid walks. “Now I love going out ALL the time!” says Lazybones.
I read the book maybe six times in the last five days. And for the first three of them, it didn’t even occur to me that I was reading a book featuring LGBT dogs. That’s because this isn’t a book about LGBT dogs. It’s a book about how pets train pet owners, about hide-and-seek, about laziness, about finding friends and about finding love. It’s filled with beautiful linoleum print illustrations in bright colors. And it just so happens that the dogs that love each other are two dude dogs, Robert and Arthur.
My sons haven’t mentioned anything yet about Arthur being a man-dog and Robert also being a man-dog and whether or not it is notable that they love each other. Evidently, it isn’t.
And for me, that’s the most edifying aspect of the book and what makes me the happiest as a parent, that no one gives a shit that Robert loves Arthur and Arthur loves Robert. The next time I read Lazybones — in about four hours — I’m not going to mention it, nor will I the time after that. I don’t want to ruin anything or make it weird. It’s a good book. It’s a good book about two gay dogs who love each other. It’s a good book about two gay dogs who love each other read to two boys who don’t care about anything but love and walks.