First Page Project Gutenberg Header Page 134 of 193 Next Page Last Page CHAPTER XXVII - Michael, Brother of Jerry

CHAPTER XXVII

"The thing is, Johnny, you can't love dogs into doing professional tricks, which is the difference between dogs and women," Collins told his assistant. "You know how it is with any dog. You love it up into lying down and rolling over and playing dead and all such dub tricks. And then one day you show him off to your friends, and the conditions are changed, and he gets all excited and foolish, and you can't get him to do a thing. Children are like that. Lose their heads in company, forget all their training, and throw you down."

"Now on the stage, they got real tricks to do, tricks they don't do, tricks they hate. And they mightn't be feeling good--got a touch of cold, or mange, or are sour-balled. What are you going to do? Apologize to the audience? Besides, on the stage, the programme runs like clockwork. Got to start performing on the tick of the clock, and anywhere from one to seven turns a day, all depending what kind of time you've got. The point is, your dogs have got to get right up and perform. No loving them, no begging them, no waiting on them. And there's only the one way. They've got to know when you start, you mean it."

"And dogs ain't fools," Johnny opined. "They know when you mean anything, an' when you don't."

"Sure thing," Collins nodded approbation. "The moment you slack up on them is the moment they slack up in their work. You get soft, and see how quick they begin making mistakes in their tricks. You've got to keep the fear of God over them. If you don't, they won't, and you'll find yourself begging for spotted time on the bush circuits."

Half an hour later, Michael heard, though he understood no word of it, the master-trainer laying another law down to another assistant.

"Cross-breds and mongrels are what's needed, Charles. Not one thoroughbred in ten makes good, unless he's got the heart of a coward, and that's just what distinguishes them from mongrels and cross-breds. Like race-horses, they're hot-blooded. They've got sensitiveness, and pride. Pride's the worst. You listen to me. I was born into the business and I've studied it all my life. I'm a success. There's only one reason I'm a success--I KNOW. Get that. I KNOW."

"Another thing is that cross-breds and mongrels are cheap. You needn't be afraid of losing them or working them out. You can always get more, and cheap. And they ain't the trouble in teaching. You can throw the fear of God into them. That's what's the matter with the thoroughbreds. You can't throw the fear of God into them."

"Give a mongrel a real licking, and what's he do? He'll kiss your hand, and be obedient, and crawl on his belly to do what you want him to do. They're slave dogs, that's what mongrels are. They ain't got courage, and you don't want courage in a performing dog. You want fear. Now you give a thoroughbred a licking and see what happens. Sometimes they die. I've known them to die. And if they don't die, what do they do? Either they go stubborn, or vicious, or both. Sometimes they just go to biting and foaming. You can kill them, but you can't keep them from biting and foaming. Or they'll go straight stubborn. They're the worst. They're the passive resisters--that's what I call them. They won't fight back. You can flog them to death, but it won't buy you anything. They're like those Christians that used to be burned at the stake or boiled in oil. They've got their opinions, and nothing you can do will change them. They'll die first. . . . And they do. I've had them. I was learning myself . . . and I learned to leave the thoroughbred alone. They beat you out. They get your goat. You never get theirs. And they're time- wasters, and patience-wasters, and they're expensive." Next Page

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Gustave Flaubert