A book larger than this might be filled, all through, with stories about the dog, besides what are already published; but any one of you may see enough to delight you every day in the affectionate creature, it you will only be patient and kind. It is too often the custom to punish a dog when he does not do just what you like; and you may like things quite different at different times. Now, the poor brute cannot tell exactly what you wish; and if he is used to get a blow, or an angry scolding, he will be so afraid of doing wrong, that what little sense he has left will fail him, and he will be so confused as to make him do wrong. An animal, or a boy either, living in constant fear of ill-usage whether he deserves it or not, will get either so stupid or so careless, as seldom to do what is required. Think a little, and you will understand this. An angry tone and hard words agitate a dog very much. Mr. Blaine, who wrote a book about their diseases and cures, says that he has often known a dog, weakened by illness, to go into convulsions on hearing another dog violently scolded. I tell you this to explain why some dogs are hard to manage: they are frightened out of their senses; to say nothing of the cruel pain that they are often made to suffer. I have seen a person beat a dog one day for not following him when he wished it, and the next day for following when he was not wanted. I have seen a dog set at another to fight, being encouraged, and irritated, and made savage on purpose; and soon after beaten for flying at some person, or thing that he was not wanted to attack. No wonder if the poor creature loses all his fine qualities under such treatment.
All that he wishes is to be allowed to love you, and follow you, and serve you. He wants the help of your reason to keep him from doing wrong; and he wants you to explain to him how he may please you. It has made my heart ache, many a time, to see a poor dog obey his master’s call, coming up to him in a crouching, crawling way, trembling with fear, and seeming to say, “Pray, pray do not hurt me! I am ready to do what you wish, and to lay down my life for you; but you are going to beat or to kick me, and I am a poor creature, without any one to take my part. I could bite you, I could seize you by the throat, or tear the flesh off your leg, but I will not do so. I come because you call me; pray do not hurt me!” And I have seen the meek, obedient creature struck, and put to cruel pain, without the smallest reason in the world. And when I recollected the words of the Bible, “Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth,” I have grieved the more to think what punishment that cruel man or boy was bringing on himself.
If we call one of our dogs, even when at high play in the fields, he instantly comes bounding up, puts his head on one side, pricks up his ears, and looks full in our faces as if saying, “Well, here I am; what do you want me to do?” A beating is the last thing that they would think of. I am not now speaking of Bronti and Fiddy in particular, but all the dogs that ever I had. The reason is, that the dog is the very fondest creature that breathes; and any but a really ill-tempered dog may be managed by means of this fondness; while, as I before remarked, a really bad-tempered one should not be kept to be punished, but speedily destroyed.