The Other Dog

from Forty Fables

Two dogs were romping on a patch of common ground when their owner decided to teach them some tricks.

“Sit!” cried the owner.

And the dogs both sat.

“Fetch!” cried the owner.

And they fetched.

“And through the hoop!” added the owner, producing a plastic hoop – through which the first dog jumped immediately.

“Ur – no,” thought the other dog. “I don’t jump through hoops.”

The first dog received a tasty reward – but the other dog, despite enticements, bluntly refused to have anything to do with the hoop.

“Come on!” barked the first dog. “He’s got a pocket full of sweets. And if you’re lucky he’ll tickle your chest!”

“No chance,” spat the other dog. “I don’t jump through hoops.”

In the following weeks the first dog continued to jump through the hoop; it worked on its technique night and day. In collaboration with the owner it developed a number of variations: jumping higher, going through backwards or upside down.

“I don’t know why you don’t join in,” it told the other dog. “This really is jolly good fun!”

“I told you,” said the other dog. “I don’t jump through hoops.”

The hoop jumping act became increasingly slick – small crowds began to form on the common. And the first dog developed a taste for applause.

“I think this afternoon’s performances was the best so far – ” it told the other dog one day. “Nice crowd, good show, big finish. I wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t take off in a big way.”

“I don’t jump through hoops,” yawned the other dog.

The act improved. The owner invested in better equipment – chrome hoops, synthetic bones and an adapted canine ladder. He obtained a motor-caravan, had the dog’s name painted on the side, bought himself a ringmaster’s outfit – and had costumes run up for the dog.

“Pleats, give me pleats!” insisted the dog. “More sequins! More colour! More bells!”

“Do I look better in the tutu?” it asked the other dog, “or the Arabian pantaloons?”

“I don’t know,” said the other dog. “I don’t jump through hoops . . . and I don’t climb ladders either.”

Inevitably, the first dog grew increasingly famous – it performed all over the land. It learned to dance, to walk a tightrope and how to play the drums. To tumultuous applause this talented dog would crash great cymbals while balancing pink skittles on its nose. The act would close when it was blasted from a cannon through a ring of purple flames.

It travelled the world, it mingled with the stars, it made movies and published books. It appeared on chat shows and revealed the secrets of its success.

It was worth millions. It met the wrong dogs. It was swindled and became involved in a long and bitter court case. It fell from grace, and its owner brought it home – ruined.

The owner stuck it in the shed with the other dog, and retired to the pub.

“To think that I was a star!” sobbed the dog, to the other dog. “Do you know they took everything? They wouldn’t even let me keep my jewellery. But God, it was worth it – and at least I haven’t wasted my life doing absolutely nothing, like you.”

“Like I said,” sighed the other dog, “I don’t jump through hoops.”

Moral: And neither do I.

© Adam Acidophilus 2001