Credit: Stuart Ramson/AP

Happy Birthday, Clifford!

The Big Red Dog turned 50 on Monday, and the birthday dog got a big celebration at Scholastic headquarters in New York as Clifford’s 84-year-old creator, Norman Bridwell, took questions from elementary kids via a webcast, The AP reports.

Also in attendance? The now 51-year-old real life Emily Elizabeth, Bridwell’s daughter, who was the inspiration for the same-named girl from the books and then TV series.

“I don’t really understand it,” Bridwell told The AP of Clifford’s enduring nature. “Whether it’s his color, or if it’s the fact that he’s clumsy, like a lot of kids are clumsy. And a lot of kids would like to be forgiven for their mistakes, and Emily always forgives him when he makes a mistake.”

Bridwell also spoke about being concerned over what the “message” of the stories should be. “I said to my editor, I think after about the second or third book, ‘Maybe I should be putting messages into this.’ And she said, ‘Well you’re not a message person. Just give them something that’s fun to read.”

With over 126 million Clifford books in print, that’s a whole lot of fun.

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