The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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328
THIEVING- DOGS AND HORSES
It is now about eighty years since Sir Walter Scott told some curious stories, proving how animals could be deliberately trained by their owners to break the law, or to help them to break it, all the while thinking they were acting from the best motives, and only doing their duty. It is, if we come to reflect, very difficult for a dog to learn that he is worthy of praise if he defends his master's property, while he is doing a very wicked thing if, at that very master's bidding, he tries to get possession of some­body else's. His only idea of the whole duty of dog is to do what he is told. And a very good idea it is, too, only it sometimes leads to trouble. Why, only a few days ago a large boar-hound was trained by some Paris thieves to fly at a man's throat at a given signal. The man was nearly killed, but not before the dog and his owners had been caught by the police. The thieves were taken to prison, and the dog to the lethal chamber.
This little incident shows that the nature of dogs, as well as that of men, is pretty much the same as when Sir Walter was writing about them. Somewhere about the year 1817 a constable made a complaint to the police magistrate of Shadwell, a large district in the East of London, that a horse in the neighbourhood had become a confirmed hay-stealer. Every night, declared the constable, that horse would walk boldly up to the stands of hackney coaches in the parish of St. George's-in-the-East, and eat as much hav as he wanted, after wrhich he
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