Zoning for Clifford (the Big Red Dog)

Lately, we’ve been reading a lot of Norman Birdwell’s children’s classic “Clifford the Big Red Dog” in my household. Like pretty much every night. There is one page that was confusing to me, though.

2015-01-22 09.16Frankly, I didn’t see what the “problem” was. Clifford seemed comfortable enough. The drawing doesn’t show any neighborhood denizen frantically waving his hands in the air as was the case with the problems caused by Clifford’s fetch games, car chasing and shoe chewing.

The other day, it clicked: A doghouse this size is clearly going to conflict with the local zoning ordinance. Emily Elizabeth’s family probably had to go through a whole, protracted process to get that variance. And I imagine the hearings weren’t without comment from neighbors, given the bucolic suburban setting where people clearly cherish their sprawling lawns. Incidentally, the family was lucky that the prescriptions here called for tiny houses that only take up a fifth of each parcel, so that they had space to build a second dog-housing unit and enough yard left over for Emily Elizabeth and Clifford to play camping out.

A clearer illustration would have probably been something like this:

Clifford alternate illustrationWhy, yes, the shoe store owner is president of the planning commission. Glad you asked.

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