A letter from Hamish

Hamish

Dear Orlando,

I hope you won’t mind a letter from a mere dog. Actually, I’m more properly described as a hound, and my breed profile says I will chase anything that moves. That is certainly true if I encounter a rabbit, badger, pine marten, sheep, or (and I do apologise for this, but you’d understand if you met him) next door’s unpleasant hen-murdering tomcat. As such I am kept on a strong lead by my humans when out and about, and only allowed to run free in areas free of livestock. This I don’t mind, but I share my home (and humans) with Daisy.  

Daisy

Daisy is a Black Cat. I enjoy watching television, and I once saw a documentary that said the Ancient Egyptians worshipped such cats as goddesses. This is all very well, but I don’t think my humans are Egyptian (although they may be ancient). I adore the very grass on which Daisy walks, of course, but sometimes I am troubled by the suspicion that our establishment is not run along strictly impartial lines.  Daisy’s elevated status in the household is reflected by the fact that she is never required to wear a lead (or indeed a collar) despite regularly chasing and killing all manner of small furry animals and crunching them on the doormat. She runs vertically up tree trunks and across the roof and snatches the small birds for which my humans put out food. Occasionally she will donate a corpse or two to me, for which I am deeply grateful, as I am that she will sometimes permit me to lick her ears for a few moments before she serrates my nose.  

However, I cannot help but feel it is unfair that despite her numerous violent outbursts, she is also allowed Upstairs (a place I am not permitted to go) and frequently walks across the kitchen counter with muddy paws. I do not like to think of the consequences were I to do that in search of leftovers to lick: my bowl remains permanently on the kitchen floor.

I believe I am a deserving dog. I am frequently referred to as Good Boy by my humans; I swallow pills when required, I submit to degrading precautions against fleas and ticks, and I never, ever, bite or scratch for no reason. Yet my virtue goes sadly unrecognized and unrewarded. Can you help?

With all best wishes,
Hamish (Irish Wolfhound)


Orlando

Dear Hamish,

Firstly, my commiserations. Not on the situation you present to me in your letter, I should clarify, but on the fact that you are a dog. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a dog; dogs are perfectly lovely (in certain situations and never on the sofa) and you sound like a fine, fit and active fellow. I’m even willing to overlook your unfortunate cat-chasing proclivities. It is, however, fair to say that cats rule themselves while dogs serve their human overlords, and this is at the root of all your issues.

I feel rather sad for you that you derive your self-esteem from the affection of others. You should hold yourself in higher regard and learn to think of yourself as ‘Good Boy’ rather than depending on your humans for this validation. You must be more realistic about the pecking order though as you are correct: the establishment in which you dwell is absolutely not run along impartial lines. There is no advice I can offer about this unfortunately. I apologise for using a tedious and overused expression, but it is what it is. Daisy is a cat and will always rule the roost. Her humans know and understand this (clever people), and you must learn to accept this. 

I can only suggest that you capitalize further on your good relationship with her and get her more on your side through a series of ingratiations. Your proximity to her and her good favour may well see you gaining access to things not yet permitted. It may not, but it’s worth a try and I wish you luck.

Daisy looks marvellous, incidentally. Is she single by any chance?

Yours Purrfully,
Orlando

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