Tuesday, July 21

Dogs and cats

In 1906 Korea.

Reputable language is hardly adequate to the description of the Korean dog. No family would be complete without one; but its bravery varies inversely as the square of its vermin, which is calculable in no known terms. This dog is a wolfish breed, but thoroughly domesticated. Almost every house has a hole in the front door for his accommodation. He will lie just inside, with his head protruding from the orifice and his eyes rolling from side to side in the most truculent manner. If he happens to be outside and you point your finger at him, he rushes for this hole, and bolts through it at a pace which seems calculated to tear off all the hair from his prominent angles. Among certain of the poorer classes the flesh of the dog is eaten, and we have in mind a certain shop in Seoul where the purveying of this delicacy is a specialty. We once shot a dog which entertained peculiar notions about the privacy of our back yard. The gateman disposed of the remains in a mysterious manner and then retired on the sick-list for a few days. When he reappeared at last, with a weak smile on his face he placed his hand on his stomach and affirmed with evident conviction that some dogs are too old for any use. But, on the whole, the Korean dog is cleared of the charge of uselessness by the fact that he acts as scavenger in general, and really does much to keep the city from becoming actually uninhabitable.

The cat is almost exclusively of the back-fence variety, and is an incorrigible thief. It is the natural prey of the ubiquitous dog and the small boy. Our observation leads us to the sad but necessary conclusion that old age stands at the very bottom of the list of causes of feline mortality.

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