Huw Le Lytle’s
Bedlington Steps to Respectability, Usefulness and Happiness
Habits and Amusements of the Modern Dog
All animals, except man, know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.
Samuel Butler, English novelist, 1903
All dogs, especially the cutest, know that the principle business of life is to enjoy a lot of cheese and work it off with zoomies.
Huw Le Lytle, The Cutest, 2017
Heed my advice, and watch your step. If one does not tread carefully, then one is always at risk of the impudence of a wayward twig, or leaf, or other inconvenience in one’s hair. This catastrophe can destroy a walk, so remember this precaution when setting out on strange and unexplored paths. The careless traveller may be tempted astray by squirrels, or zoomies, and many other bewitching wonderments of park life, but the risk is great that the brightest walk may be beset by the ignominy of a twig or leaf, disturbing the perfection of one’s features. Particularly the cutest one’s.
Many a young dog will press on without any consideration of this herbaceous intrusion, without any care for woody obstacles or branched burdens. But I exhort you always to consider your path with due care and attention, so that you may return from your walk quite certain of your conduct and appearance, rather than beset with memories of twiggy disgrace and ruin. There is good reason that all the trains in London stop if there are leaves on the track. One errant leaf can turn into a whole forest. So I beseech the young dog to take care.
When it comes to park life, do not cultivate leaves, but instead cultivate temperance. I never chase a squirrel, or a duck in a pond, although I have been known to usher pigeons away. The important thing is that if you are predisposed to harassment of the squirrel and ducks, then the damage to your health and reputation and the happiness of your walk may be insurmountable. Do not give in to the wretchedness of the squirrel botherer or the social ruin of the duck chaser. Never mind if you have a friend who is overcome with the fascination of the fowl, the seduction of the Sandpiper, the lure of the Lovebirds, the charm of the Chiffchaffs. The young dog must stay strong and resist the temptation and the intoxication of the chase, and focus on the cheese instead. Or face the social ruin of going on lead for the duration of the visit.
The young dog is also an active being and ready for physical and intellectual stimulation, a creature of industry and zoomies. If the young dog is denied their opportunity to make a productive contribution to park life, then the young dog’s mind will no doubt succumb to mischief and vice.
One might look at me and see no evidence of industry, but I am indeed always actively employed in something useful. Napping is essential, as well as time spent thinking, sniffing in the garden, eating ribbies, and making humans, dogs, and kitties happy. I am constantly and actively engaged in the honourable state of being that Bedlington. And Human says the world is a better place for it. Thus, despite my often suspended state of animation, I am actually a man of action.
As important as industry is the art of recreation. The young dog should have ample opportunity to play and relax. However, one should take care to avoid all amusements that might be likely to cause injury or embarrassment. I therefore urge the young dog to resist the temptation of eating shoes, or redesigning furniture, for these are false pleasures and are likely to bring sadness to the whole household. As Mr RS Surtees once said, “Life would be very pleasant if it were not for its enjoyments.” One of the most important considerations is for the young dog to resist the enjoyments that demoralise their human and destroy their shoes, and consider more the pleasures that bring the greatest happiness to all.
Importantly, such dishonest pleasures of destruction are indeed the preoccupation of the dog that has been denied the satisfaction of purposeful industry and intellectual stimulation. Which returns me to my previous advice on the importance of industry.
What then are the honest pleasures? Many young dogs like to chase balls and occasionally return them. Personally, I find this to be a pointless and trivial occupation and far beneath my thoughtful mind. I prefer a game to which I can devote not only my zoomies but also my intellect. I have also noticed that some humans pretend to throw the ball on occasion, tricking the young dog into a game of chance. In so doing, this treacherous human turns the unwary young mind into that of a gambler, obsessed with the chance of the ball, and completely unaware of anything else around! Thus, instead of developing a passion and anti-social obsession for the ball on a walk, I recommend engaging in some other amusements worthy of a dog’s eager and clever mind. Sniffing and jumping and exploring and interacting with our friends are above all the most important ways to engage in park life. In fact, we never take toys to the park.
And that brings me to one of the most important amusements in park life – zoomies. Zoomies are most wonderful because they are essential for exercise and invigoration, and they are superb activities for building confidence and community in the dog park. They are a key part of any young dog’s interaction with friends, gaining their trust, and learning the marvellous skills of play. Zoomies are indeed the culture and civility of the dog park. And I am nothing if not cultured and civilised. Zoomies are indeed the manifest proof of enjoyment and happiness.
Be happy, do zoomies, and be that Bedlington.
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