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Mum! Mum!

Castor and Pollux, the twins, burst into the kitchen where their mother,

Brassica, was arranging some after-school snacks.

Yes, darlings?

Can Andy be trained as our school’s therapet?


Yes, mum- you know, a pet that boys can stroke and pat before their

exams.  It helps with nerves, elucidated Castor.

How does it work? asked Brassie.

Well, Caligula– ( Brassie gave Pollux a warning look)- emmm,

Mr Milford-Haven, told us that if pupils talk to a therapet, it can calm

their nerves before an exam.

Yeah, you still have to revise, though, admitted Castor.

Pollux jumped in: It releases endolphins.

Do you mean endorphins, love? said Brassie.

Whatever, said Pollux, without thinking.  His mother had banned that

particular word.  Now he would have to pay a fine of ten pence.

Castor took up the thread: There is a dog called Audrey, up north, who

helps children with their reading. It is an Italian Spinone.

Yes, said Pollux, and there is one called Holly, the collie.  Sometimes they

set a good example to scruffy children and show them how nice it is to brush

their teeth, or to be groomed.

I thought grooming was a bad thing that strangers do to you, said Castor.

No, that kind is okay, isn’t it , Mum? Pollux looked to his mother for


Border Terrier.jpg

The thing is, boys, Andy is rather excitable.  He is a bright and bouncy Border,

but I wouldn’t say that he was particularly calming.

Brassie thought about his, frankly delinquent behaviour.  She couldn’t see him

in a role as canine ambassador for deportment and emotional stability.

Anyway, boys, she added, some children are allergic to dogs, so they might

develop an asthma attack and then the school and the dog owner might be


Nowadays, litigation was an omnipresent threat.

Oh, faltered the twins. What about goldfish?  We could take Jaws in. 

They knew how much of a nuisance he was.  There was always an argument

about whose turn it was to clean out his bowl.

Hey, Jaws, listen to my poem- the one I have to recite in front of the class

next week. Castor placed the bowl on the kitchen worktop, but Jaws seemed

totally uninterested.

Andy jumped over the restrictive toddler stairgate and frantically licked both


Down, boy! Pollux commanded.  Andy ignored him.  He knocked over the

goldfish bowl.

Oh Andy! shouted Brassie, scooping Jaws up as best she could.  She did not

feel calm at all.

Castor began to recite his poem: I wandered lonely as a clod..

Cloud, corrected Pollux.

Oh, yeah, cloud..

Andy was sitting up, totally mesmerised and completely calm.

That floats on high.. Castor continued.

Well, look at that, said Brassie, amazed at the effect that Wordworth’s

emotion recollected in tranquillity was having on their anarchic pet.

She gave him a doggy treat and passed the boys a blueberry slice that

she had bought for them from Costamuchamoulah.

Good boy!

Orpheus had tamed brute beasts through music, so maybe metrical

regularity was having the same effect on her wild animal.

Never mind the children being tranquillised, there was something

in the art of poesie that might be a cheaper alternative to dog training

classes. If she patented the technique, she might make a fortune and

could subsidise the school fees.  Wait till she demonstrated the effect to


But, where was Jaws?