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    Dandy: A Story of a Dog

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    Chapter 9
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    He was of mixed breed, and was supposed to have a strain of Dandy
    Dinmont blood which gave him his name. A big ungainly animal with a
    rough shaggy coat of blue-grey hair and white on his neck and clumsy
    paws. He looked like a Sussex sheep-dog with legs reduced to half their
    proper length. He was, when I first knew him, getting old and
    increasingly deaf and dim of sight, otherwise in the best of health and
    spirits, or at all events very good-tempered.

    Until I knew Dandy I had always supposed that the story of Ludlam's dog
    was pure invention, and I daresay that is the general opinion about it;
    but Dandy made me reconsider the subject, and eventually I came to
    believe that Ludlam's dog did exist once upon a time, centuries ago
    perhaps, and that if he had been the laziest dog in the world Dandy was
    not far behind him in that respect. It is true he did not lean his head
    against a wall to bark; he exhibited his laziness in other ways. He
    barked often, though never at strangers; he welcomed every visitor,
    even the tax-collector, with tail-waggings and a smile. He spent a good
    deal of his time in the large kitchen, where he had a sofa to sleep on,
    and when the two cats of the house wanted an hour's rest they would
    coil themselves up on Dandy's broad shaggy side, preferring that bed to
    cushion or rug. They were like a warm blanket over him, and it was a
    sort of mutual benefit society. After an hour's sleep Dandy would go
    out for a short constitutional as far as the neighbouring thoroughfare,
    where he would blunder against people, wag his tail to everybody, and
    then come back. He had six or eight or more outings each day, and,
    owing to doors and gates being closed and to his lazy disposition, he
    had much trouble in getting out and in. First he would sit down in the
    hall and bark, bark, bark, until some one would come to open the door
    for him, whereupon he would slowly waddle down the garden path, and if
    he found the gate closed he would again sit down and start barking. And
    the bark, bark would go on until some one came to let him out. But if
    after he had barked about twenty or thirty times no one came, he would
    deliberately open the gate himself, which he could do perfectly well,
    and let himself out. In twenty minutes or so he would be back at the
    gate and barking for admission once more, and finally, if no one paid
    any attention, letting himself in.

    Dandy always had something to eat at mealtimes, but he too liked a
    snack between meals once or twice a day. The dog-biscuits were kept in
    an open box on the lower dresser shelf, so that he could get one
    "whenever he felt so disposed," but he didn't like the trouble this
    arrangement gave him, so he would sit down and start barking, and as he
    had a bark which was both deep and loud, after it had been repeated a
    dozen times at intervals of five seconds, any person who happened to be
    in or near the kitchen was glad to give him his biscuit for the sake of
    peace and quietness. If no one gave it him, he would then take it out
    himself and eat it.

    Now it came to pass that during the last year of the war dog-biscuits,
    like many other articles of food for man and beast, grew scarce, and
    were finally not to be had at all. At all events, that was what
    happened in Dandy's town of Penzance. He missed his biscuits greatly
    and often reminded us of it by barking; then, lest we should think he
    was barking about something else, he would go and sniff and paw at the
    empty box. He perhaps thought it was pure forgetfulness on the part of
    those of the house who went every morning to do the marketing and had
    fallen into the habit of returning without any dog-biscuits in the
    basket. One day during that last winter of scarcity and anxiety I went
    to the kitchen and found the floor strewn all over with the fragments
    of Dandy's biscuit-box. Dandy himself had done it; he had dragged the
    box from its place out into the middle of the floor, and then
    deliberately set himself to bite and tear it into small pieces and
    scatter them about. He was caught at it just as he was finishing the
    job, and the kindly person who surprised him in the act suggested that
    the reason of his breaking up the box in that way that he got something
    of the biscuit flavour by biting the pieces. My own theory was that as
    the box was there to hold biscuits and now held none, he had come to
    regard it as useless--as having lost its function, so to speak--also
    that its presence there was an insult to his intelligence, a constant
    temptation to make a fool of himself by visiting it half a dozen times
    a day only to find it empty as usual. Better, then, to get rid of it
    altogether, and no doubt when he did it he put a little temper into the
    business!

    Dandy, from the time I first knew him, was strictly teetotal, but in
    former and distant days he had been rather fond of his glass. If a
    person held up a glass of beer before him, I was told, he wagged his
    tail in joyful anticipation, and a little beer was always given him at
    mealtime. Then he had an experience, which, after a little hesitation,
    I have thought it best to relate, as it is perhaps the most curious
    incident in Dandy's somewhat uneventful life.

    One day Dandy, who after the manner of his kind, had attached himself
    to the person who was always willing to take him out for a stroll,
    followed his friend to a neighbouring public-house, where the said
    friend had to discuss some business matter with the landlord. They went
    into the taproom, and Dandy, finding that the business was going to be
    a rather long affair, settled himself down to have a nap. Now it
    chanced that a barrel of beer which had just been broached had a leaky
    tap, and the landlord had set a basin on the floor to catch the waste.
    Dandy, waking from his nap and hearing the trickling sound, got up, and
    going to the basin quenched his thirst, after which he resumed his nap.
    By-and-by he woke again and had a second drink, and altogether he woke
    and had a drink five or six times; then, the business being concluded,
    they went out together, but no sooner were they in the fresh air than
    Dandy began to exhibit signs of inebriation. He swerved from side to
    side, colliding with the passers-by, and finally fell off the pavement
    into the swift stream of water which at that point runs in the gutter
    at one side of the street. Getting out of the water, he started again,
    trying to keep close to the wall to save himself from another ducking.
    People looked curiously at him, and by-and-by they began to ask what
    the matter was. "Is your dog going to have a fit--or what is it?" they
    asked. Dandy's friend said he didn't know; something was the matter no
    doubt, and he would take him home as quickly as possible and see to it.

    When they finally got to the house Dandy staggered to his sofa, and
    succeeded in climbing on to it and, throwing himself on his cushion,
    went fast asleep, and slept on without a break until the following
    morning. Then he rose quite refreshed and appeared to have forgotten
    all about it; but that day when at dinner-time some one said "Dandy"
    and held up a glass of beer, instead of wagging his tail as usual he
    dropped it between his legs and turned away in evident disgust. And
    from that time onward he would never touch it with his tongue, and it
    was plain that when they tried to tempt him, setting beer before him
    and smilingly inviting him to drink, he knew they were mocking him, and
    before turning away he would emit a low growl and show his teeth. It
    was the one thing that put him out and would make him angry with his
    friends and life companions.

    I should not have related this incident if Dandy had been alive. But he
    is no longer with us. He was old--half-way between fifteen and sixteen:
    it seemed as though he had waited to see the end of the war, since no
    sooner was the armistice proclaimed than he began to decline rapidly.
    Gone deaf and blind, he still insisted on taking several
    constitutionals every day, and would bark as usual at the gate, and if
    no one came to let him out or admit him, he would open it for himself
    as before. This went on till January, 1919, when some of the boys he
    knew were coming back to Penzance and to the house. Then he established
    himself on his sofa, and we knew that his end was near, for there he
    would sleep all day and all night, declining food. It is customary in
    this country to chloroform a dog and give him a dose of strychnine to
    "put him out of his misery." But it was not necessary in this case, as
    he was not in misery; not a groan did he ever emit, waking or sleeping;
    and if you put a hand on him he would look up and wag his tail just to
    let you know that it was well with him. And in his sleep he passed
    away--a perfect case of euthanasia--and was buried in the large garden
    near the second apple-tree.
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