Lifestyle

Why is There a Hank the Cowdog Statue in This Texas Town?

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Hank the Cowdog has been guarding Heritage Park in San Angelo since it opened in 2018. A bronze statue of this Texas hero and “Head of Ranch Security” has caused a small stir in this town at the heart of Texas. As more and more locals began taking notice of it, word started to fly that perhaps there was a prior connection between this children’s book character and the city of San Angelo. After some research, it was found that, in fact, there was.

The author, himself, began his literary career in the 1980s at San Angelo’s Livestock Weekly. John R. Erickson was mentored here by a writing colleague by the name of Elmer Kelton, an award-winning novelist many critics and fans consider the greatest western writer of all time. Although that connection was made, it wasn’t the real reason for the placing of Hank at Heritage Park. This public space was meant to honor historical locals, many of whom found their livelihood in the agriculture and ranching sectors. The park’s educational and historical curator, Candis Hicks, told gosanangelo.com, “Hank embodies the spirit of all ranching, of Texas and the love of the land.”

Why is There a Hank the Cowdog Statue in This Texas Town?

Photo: Facebook/Heritage Park San Angelo

Hank’s statue at Heritage Park in San Angelo was donated by Lee and Candyce Pfluger. Lee Pfluger worked with the San Angelo ISD and Texas Tech University to develop the Hank the Cowdog ranching culture curriculum. As a result, the “Head of Ranch Security” was placed in honor of all that this represents. “The committee decided … (it) could have an education component,” Hicks explained to gosanangelo.com. “Hank is integrated into that curriculum, which teaches about these wonderful ranching families that made this possible.”

Why is There a Hank the Cowdog Statue in This Texas Town?

Photo: Facebook/Heritage Park San Angelo

Hicks also travels with a Styrofoam statue of Hank, visiting schools, and sharing copies of “Ranching and Livestock,” which is the first book Erickson wrote in the informative Ranch Life series. After they read the book, students are then asked to write a letter. Their options are to write it to Hank, or write it as Hank, which assists the fourth-grade students with both writing and reading comprehension, part of the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests. The result is an increased interest in all things Hank-related in San Angelo. If that means more 10-to-12-year-olds visit Heritage Park or learning more about ranching… inadvertently… that’s not such a bad connection to stumble upon.

If you’re a Hank the Cowdog fan, you’ve got to see this rare, forgotten test footage for the Hank the Cowdog animated series pilot!