It is impossible to lose a dog in a neighbourhood he knows, unless he lets himself be picked up, which is unlikely. He naturally gives strangers a wide berth, and it is long odds against his coming across a professional dog-stealer with such an irresistible lure as is valerian for cats. But as a rule he will take his time about getting back, causing his master much unnecessary anxiety. How he passes the time is a mystery, for even an inveterate poacher will seldom go on the hunt single-handed. The only exception I knew was an exceedingly handsome animal, with soft, lustrous eyes like those of a roe deer. He was timid, and seemed to know that his beauty was a danger; at any rate, however briskly I stepped out after missing him, I always found him in waiting at the door. His lustrous eyes were intelligent, and in some ways he was sharp, but in others provokingly stupid. If I slammed a field gate, barred close to the ground, in his face, with a stiff hedge matted at the roots on either side, he would never make a detour to scramble through somewhere else, unless there was a companion to give him a lead. He would simply whine and struggle at the bars till he gave up in despair and went back. On principle I never helped him, though it is hopeless to teach an old dog new tricks. On the other hand, the most accomplished burglar was never cleverer at getting into strange houses. On the rare occasions when I make afternoon calls, my dogs are trained to wait on the steps or the gravel. Poly's impatience or affection would get the better of him after a time. There was one great rambling mansion, shut in by garden doors and yew hedges, where the people, to their misfortune, detested dogs, and consequently I was extra particular in the orders to mine. One day I made some civil apology for bringing them, but said they were all right outside, and there was no fear of their intrusion. The door opened, the servants brought in the tea-tray, followed by Poly wagging his tail. He must have sneaked round, forced the kitchen door, threaded a perfect labyrinth of passages, and scented me out. He was either so stupid or so sharp as to take it for granted I was glad to see him, and began dancing gracefully after his fashion, like Esmeralda's kid in Victor Hugo's Notre Dame, another book you ought to read. Good looks and pretty manners go for a great deal, after all; instead of being kicked out, neck and crop, he was stuffed with the tea-cakes, and in five minutes was rolling over the children on the rug. Talking of burglars, by the way, if you want to persuade your parents to let you keep a dog within doors, you can't use a better argument than the security against thieves. Dogs on chain may be drugged or poisoned; but housebreakers always survey premises beforehand, and the boldest will never attempt a house with a yelping terrier inside to give the alarm.
Dogs and cats have a natural antipathy, which is apt to get the dog-keeper into hot water. It is inbred and hereditary. The cat spits defiance and bristles her back, then bolts, and the dog naturally follows. Taking refuge on a wall or in the nearest tree, she tantalises him beyond canine endurance. Next time when he has his chance on the ground, he goes in and takes his revenge; though a cornered cat is a dangerous enemy, and even when the odds are three to one against her, she parts very hardly with the proverbial nine lives. But even when dogs and cats have not been brought up together from puppy-hood and kittenhood, there is never any difficulty in keeping the domestic peace. It would be a mistake to bring a bull-terrier, bred in the slums and trained to fly at all and sundry, into the bosom of a peaceful family. Probably the pet tabby would be in tatters before she knew where she was. But an honest sporting dog, even with cat-chevying propensities, is prompt to recognise the changed situation. At first there is armed and suspicious neutrality. The cat's back goes up at a moment's notice ; the dog keeps his cold grey eye on her, with lips drawn back for a snarl and teeth ready for a snap. But in a very few days things settle down, and they are not only friends, but on the footing of lovers. The cat, with her insidious ways, has a fancy for rubbing up against anything warm, as all dogs delight in being gently rubbed down. I have a misanthropical black terrier, who long turned a cold shoulder to feline advances and suggestions of soft caresses. But gentle perseverance got the better of him at last, and now he and his chum are inseparable. Sometimes, it is true, like all spoiled members of the rougher sex, he finds her endearments a bore, and growls a warning that he is not in the humour. Even when he shows his teeth, she seems rather to like it, for she knows it is his manner rather than his mind. In a few minutes, you hear her again on the full purr, and his tail is being won to a wag, as she arches herself under his chin, with her own tail in the air. Yet that terrier is a hereditary cat-hunter, and when we take our walks abroad, I am never altogether easy. Other dogs, as a rule, give chase as a matter of course, but as they neither wish nor hope to have a worry, no harm is done. Even if the cat, in place of bolting, turns to bay, the dog does not turn jest to earnest. Jack knew as well as any of them that he was expected to keep the peace, and for days he would doggedly resist temptation. Then the worrying demon would get the better of him : he would break out like a wild Scandinavian berserker or a Malay running amuck; sometimes he showed the subtlety of the savage Red Indian. When he meant mischief most, he managed matters quietly. He saw a sleek pussy imprudently sunning herself some yards from the threshold of her happy home. He dropped behind, let his master get well ahead, and then deliberately stalked his unsuspecting victim. A gurgle in the throat he gripped, a crack of the backbone, and he resumed his trot as if nothing had happened. There was no breaking him of the vice, and yet he had so many sterling qualities that I could not make up my mind to part with him. For myself, I take to cats almost as kindly as to dogs, and I should have felt more deeply for bereaved cottagers had they not been so easily consoled with half-crowns. All the same, he was a costly dog.