[PW] Identifying a story about gaining self-esteem via a dog collar

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Fri Sep 20 02:42:50 PDT 2019

Searching in Google Books yielded some text that may appear in the
target story. The text is probably from a reprint of the story that
appeared in "Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine". Based on examining
snippets, extracting text, searching bibliographies, and using
guesswork I hypothesize that the story is "The Valley of Little Fears"
by Erle Stanley Gardner from 1930. See the excerpts and metadata

Year: 1981
Periodical: Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Publisher: Davis Publications, Incorporated,
(Google Books snippet match; data may be inaccurate; based on snippet
the target text contains index to volume 78 which contains issues from
July 15, 1981 to December 2, 1981)

[Begin excerpt from Ellery Queen's, page 46 GB]
I know the story of the man who wore a dog collar around his neck and
who lived in the valley of little fears. And the story is known to but
few people.
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt from Ellery Queen's]
A week or so after that I first heard the whisper about the dog
collar. They said Smith was wearing a dog's collar under his flannel
shirt. The man who told me said it was a sign of insanity.
I didn't say anything, not to him. I did to Bertha.
"Wasn't that rubbing it in?" I asked.
She shrugged her massive shoulders. "It had to be something that would
make him think more of his training than of himself. A man can get
accustomed to a glove. He'll have the devil of a time getting
accustomed to a dog collar."
"He'll lose his self-respect," I said.
"He ain't got any."
[End excerpt]

Based on the phrase in the first excerpt and other data, here is my suggestion.

Story Title: The Valley of Little Fears
Author: Erle Stanley Gardner
Periodical: Argosy
Date: September 13, 1930
Description: Whispering Story novelette
(The metadata above is from a Wikipedia bibliography)


On Thu, Sep 19, 2019 at 7:38 PM Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com> wrote:
> I remember reading this story, many years ago, and have been racking my brain to place it.  It might have been in the anthology The Bedside Esquire, which includes a number of great stories from the 1930s, but I am by no means confident of that.
> John Baker
> From: Project-wombat [mailto:project-wombat-bounces at lists.project-wombat.org] On Behalf Of John Cowan
> Sent: Tuesday 17 September 2019 9:32 PM
> To: project-wombat
> Subject: [PW] Identifying a story about gaining self-esteem via a dog collar
> This is from MetaFilter, but a friend there asked me to relay it here, as
> no reply has been received since 2007:
> 1) A short story dealing with the search for self-esteem, set in the
> American West, in the XXth Century.
> 2) About a man trained into courage and self-respect by a woman who makes
> him wear a dog collar.
> 3) Plot summary, details may not be correct: The story is set in the
> American West at the start of the XXth century (they already have
> motorcars) and it is a pretty lawless town. A man who has no self-esteem
> nor courage asks a brave, independent woman called Bertha to teach him how
> to be brave. The woman raises dogs, so she makes him wear a dog collar.
> There is a showdown, and the man proves himself.
> 4) The story is in English, but my friend read it in Spanish translation in
> the late 70s or early 80s, in a cheap paperback book probably printed about
> ten years before and already falling apart.
> 5) Possibl authors: Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Jim Thompson,
> James M. Cain.
> Any ideas, anyone?
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