Clifford is a lot of dog to love (and care for)

Clifford the Big Red Dog is certainly drool-worthy. That’s why the first 100 times I read Clifford to my kids at bedtime I found him so endearing. But by the 500th reading, I’m scratching my head.

Clifford hasn’t stood up very well to intense over-analysis. Even My Little Ponies make more sense. Magical talking horses with emblems on their flanks? Yes, I can see that. A giant red dog larger than Emily Elizabeth’s house? No way!

First of all, let’s put some math into this situation. By my estimation it would take three elephants smashed together to equal a full-sized Clifford. Elephants are big, but Clifford is so enormous that he busts out of a moving van.

If one elephant eats 660 pounds of food each day, then Clifford is consuming 1,980 pounds of food daily. That’s a lot of Dog Chow: $1,371.74 worth, to be exact. Over the course of one year, that translates into half a million dollars.

Norman Bridwell never mentions whether Emily Elizabeth’s parents won the lottery or not, but they must have access to serious cash to keep Clifford fed. (Hopefully the Scholastic royalties are helping.)

Then there’s the question, where does that dog food go once nature’s taken its course? One elephant produces 300 pounds of waste each day, so Clifford is creating 900 pounds of dog poop daily.

I’m trying to picture Emily Elizabeth out there with her pooper scooper, but probably she needs a forklift. Where is she even putting it? Imagine the Waste Management driver who gets that route.

I bet “The Bridwell Island Herald” is full of irate letters to the editor about Clifford:

“Dear Editor, imagine my shock and horror after walking into a gigantic mound of dog poop at the park this morning. This community is going to the dogs!”

Clifford’s fur would be yet another issue. He looks like a dog that sheds. The whole neighborhood must be blanketed in red dog hair, prompting another letter to the newspaper:

“Dear Editor, imagine my disgust when I woke up this morning and found my freshly washed car covered in red fur. It looked like Elmo blew up on my driveway.”

I’m sneezing now just thinking about it.

Then again, maybe Clifford is more profound than we know. I’m willing to admit many of us might have Cliffords in our own back yard.

Sure, they aren’t giant red dogs. But maybe they are hobbies, pet projects or recreational vehicles that cost a lot of money and leave you-know-what all over our lives. We can’t see how ridiculous we are being, but our loved ones can.

Maybe they are saying right now, “I could understand you bringing home a My Little Pony, but Clifford? Honey, I really think we should run the numbers.”

Jennifer Bardsley blogs at

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