Instructions for dogs
Hello! And welcome to your human! We hope you enjoy it! They’re all round fun!
Handled correctly, your human will jump into icy water to save you, and attempt to protect you from stampeding cows, completely ignoring the fact that you can A. Swim and B. outrun cows, when some humans can do neither. Do not stop them from doing this, if they want to get wet (or trampled on) let them. Humans are odd creatures and like to think that they are in charge of you. You need to create the illusion that they are indeed in charge of you, whilst secretly embedding yourself into their home such that they think you are indispensable to their happiness and wellbeing. To do this, it is best to let them be in charge of the small things, whilst secretly making the important decisions yourself.
As any dog should know, the important decisions are things like when you go for a walk, when you are fed, when you have a ball thrown for you, and when you get your tummy tickled. A well trained human will be available for tummy tickling and ear stroking at all times. They should know when to scratch the bits you can’t reach, or can reach but would rather not bother with.
Being a dog is a balancing act. Humans expect and need faith, loyalty, a guard, a friend, and a sort of combination waste disposal unit and cuddly toy. In return for providing all of this, you should expect food, shelter, exercise and affection. They should give you what you want, without you appearing to demand it.
There are various ways of doing this but first you must perfect The Reproachful Look. This is the look you give them when they leave the house. When they eat something you want to eat (which is basically anything they are eating, even if they keep saying ‘look, it’s potato curry, you do NOT want potato curry’). When they don’t throw a stick or ball you drop at their feet and when they try to take you to the vet. Especially when they try to take you to the vet. You must look at them as if all the ills of the world are buried deep within your soul, as if only you know the true horror of existence, as if all they have to do to stop all this perpetual suffering, this endless hellish cycle we are all trapped within, is to feed you a large sausage.
The reproachful look may be accompanied by a faint, pained whine. Shuffle nearer to them and lean into them, sharing body warmth to show them how much you love them, and their sandwich crusts. You may also offer them a paw, as testament to the time-honoured bond between dog and human that says ‘what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine and that pie looks soooo yummy’.
In the event of the reproachful look not being immediately successful, turn your attention away from the human and stare mournfully at the food. Ancient canine lore recounts that a dog once stared at a piece of steak for so long that the food levitated into the dog’s mouth. Remember, if it happened once, it could happen again and is always worth a try. Always be aware of where your human is. This makes it easier to climb on the table and nick stuff when they’re not looking. When the human returns, it is your job to convince them that the food actually jumped down off the table at you. Remember this really has happened before so there’s no reason your human shouldn’t believe it.
After food, walkies are the most exciting thing for all dogs. The great thing about walkies is that whilst the human thinks it is in control, it basically lets you into large open spaces, off the lead, when it hasn’t got a cat in a kennels chance of outrunning you and making you do what you’re told. Here, a good dog must perfect the art of selective deafness. If there’s something really interesting that you need to investigate, say a stick; scrap of food only perceptible to an electron microscope or a canine nose; a pile of vomit; a dead hedgehog; a living squirrel or another dog’s bum, lose all ability to hear your owner. As soon as they mention that they have a biscuit, redevelop your hearing.
You are helped in this by Mr Bruce Fogle, a vet and expert in dog’s behaviour. Mr Fogle is convinced that dogs will only know what they are being told off for if the telling off is immediate. So if you run around like a loony for an hour with your owner in hot pursuit ineffectually waving your lead around, your owner is not supposed to tell you off as soon as they catch you. No. According to Bruce the dog will think it is being told off not for running around ignoring its owner, but for being caught. Never let on that really you knew all along what your human was up to and just thought they needed the exercise. Do not alert them to the fact that Bruce is wrong. His theories are far to useful when it comes to training your human in how to handle you.
Humans do expect you to do odd things. They think you should walk quietly at their heel rather than run around just for the sheer joy of it. Also, after you have found the best smelly spot to roll in, they will for some reason wash it all off and make you smell of revolting artificial perfume. No dog has ever fathomed out why humans do this. It is best to go along with it, though you may protest all the way to the bath. You should also, once in the bath, do the Reproachful Look, and once let out of the bath, and before they can dry you, Run Away. This last is very important. Tear around the house like a deranged and possessed animal, scattering furniture and spraying water absolutely everywhere.
But the most important thing to remember about humans is your role in making them who and what they are. Humans can be argumentative. They can be downright cruel. They are often unhappy and that unhappiness is often their own creation. It is your job to be their best friend, and in being so remind them that they need not be these unhappy, spiteful creatures. Show them how much joy there is in a big green field, with someone to throw a stick for you. Show them that happiness is just a warm place to lie, a full belly and someone to scratch your ears. The rest is just window dressing.