Of Dogs and Sheep
Observations from a Neutral Perspective

Reprinted with permission from The Chicken Scratch, one of the excellent journals published in the Kingdom of Catropolis. The editor's notes included are those of the editor of the said journal, Mr. Cocksure.

   [Editors note: The following was written by none less than a chicken, writing under the nom de plume of 'Redfeather'. As her nom indicates, the plume, with which she writes is red (plucked from her own tail, as a matter of fact). Being a chicken, our newer readers ought to be made to understand that she does tend to ramble, as chickens do, as the attention span of the average chicken is very short, so chickens don't tend to stick to the same subject for very long (of course, it goes without saying that attention span has absolutely nothing to do with I.Q.), all of which I said in order to say this: did you know that most pigs are of Latin extraction? This would explain...]

   I really must cut him short (the editor, that is). Having a tail feather or two too many, he would have rambled on without end, as long, in fact as the red crest on his literary head, which also hangs from the chin of his eloquent beak.*

   [* Editor's footnote: Note to non-chickens: to comment on the length of one's crest is the highest compliment that can be paid to a cockeral -- even higher than referring to his intellect, as it goes without saying that all chickens are highly intellectual.]

   As you will readily observe, there are two types of people in the world, and two types only: the chicken and the non-chicken. However, as there do appear to be, even among the non-chicken population, those of an intellectual bent, I address the following to the non-chicken, or at least those of the non-chickens who have managed to elevate their perspective above that of the common barnyard rabble.

   Let me first comment on the editor's note above. Unlike most editors, Mr. Cocksure chooses to write the editor's note first, and then asks one of us journalists to follow it up with an article. Then, he proceeds to interrupt us with incessant footnotes.*

   [* Editor's footnote: All footnotes will appear in brackets like this -- a revolutionary journalistic method I pioneered myself]

   Yes, thank you for your footnote, Mr. Editor. But let me also expand on the statement Mr. Cocksure made regarding the attention span of the average chicken (lest any fall for the common fallacy that it's a weak point). Chickens know so much about every subject there is, that if our attention span were longer, and we were capable of expounding on any given subject at great length, the non-chicken listener would surely learn more than what's good for him or her.

   Now, while we're off the subject, throughout all of history, flocks of sheep have always been shepherded by dogs, because dogs are the ones most capable of keeping the silly creatures under control (we know sheep are silly because dogs unanimously attest to that fact).

   However, it has come to my attention that there have been a few exceptions to this tendency, so that some flocks of sheep have actually been successfully shepherded by non-dogs.

   One is a fairly well known case, that of a pig, who used to simply ask the sheep politely to do this or that, and they obeyed, so long as he prefaced his requests with 'Baaa ram ewe', or something to that effect, thus exerting sufficient control (probably subliminally) for the imposition of his leadership.

   There are other exceptions, which we'll get to, provided we somehow manage to stay on this subject for long enough, but the rule has always been that flocks of sheep are shepherded by dogs. Lutheran flocks are shepherded by German Shepherds, Anglicans by cocker spaniels and baull dogs, Catholics by St. Bernards and Irish setters, Presbyterians by Scottish terriers, Baptists and Pentecostals by mongrels and mix breeds, egg setter, egg setter.*

   [* Editor's footnote: For the benefit of our non-chicken readers, 'egg setter' is a term often used by chicken authors and orators to avoid needless repetition, redundancy and saying virtually the same thing over and over again, egg setter, egg setter. The root is derived from the everyday life of a chicken. At one time (very long ago, as chickens began showing their intellectual prowess very early in history), one would have asked his fellow, 'Who's in the hen house?']

   [This would have elicited a long list of the names of every hen who happened to be sitting on her eggs, and as the list could be quite long, a shortcut was devised. The answer was thus shortened to something like, 'Sister Speckle, Cackle Lilly, egg setter, egg setter.' The term has become corrupted, in non-chicken circles, to 'et cetera, et cetera, which is mistakenly believed to be Latin -- a misnomer, as I can personally attest. I have spent hours scratching near the pigs' residence, and I've never once heard them use the term, which brings me back to what I was beginning to say when the most eloquent Mrs. Redfeather so rudely interrupted me...]

   ...If the editor is quite finished with his footnote, which was as long as his red crest*, we will proceed, as this is, after all my article.

   [* Editor's footnote: Again, thank you, Mrs. Redfeather, for your kind complement.]

   Alright, alright, Mr. Editor, you're welcome, I'm sure. All of this brings me to my second point, which is this: We really ought to follow the standard editorial practices followed by other journals, which is to place footnotes down at the bottom of each page, so as not to interrupt the flow.*

   [* Editor's footnote: A very good practice indeed, but with one weakness: People, especially non-chickens, often don't bother with footnotes that are placed at the bottom, and thus often miss the valuable wisdom the editor invariably has to offer. And besides, since chickens change the subject so often anyway, there's usually no flow to follow.]

   Yes, Mr. Editor. May your red crest grow ever so much longer*, egg setter, egg setter...

   [* Editor's footnote: Thank you, thank you]

   Now, on the subject of footnotes, I was saying -- now what was I saying?*

   [* Editor's footnote: You were talking about dogs and sheep.]

   Oh, yes. While on the subject of footnotes, much of my information was given to me by a dear friend answering to the name of Baaa Baaa Black Sheep. As the more astute of my readers will have noted, his name implies that he is black, and that he is a sheep.*

   [* Editor's footnote: In fact, I did note that, Mrs. Redfeather.]

   ...Yes, Mr. Editor, and you are as astute as your red crest is long...*

   [* Editor's footnote: Oh! Mrs. Redfeather! You are too kind!]

   ...but then, you are a chicken, and I actually intended the statement to flatter my non-chicken readers.

   As I was saying in my third point, the reason a footnote is called a 'foot note', is because it is usually found in the foot of a page.*

   [* Editor's footnote: But, as the ancient proverb goes, a chickens foot is often found in his mouth. But do tell us about this Mr. Baaa Baaa Black Sheep?]

   ...Yes, he was so named because he was the black sheep of the family. IN fact, he's often been called a 'wolf in sheep's clothing'.

   His own reply to that is, a black sheep is far from being a wolf, even one in sheep's clothing. A black sheep is, after all a sheep, whereas a wolf, even one in sheep's clothing, is after all, a wolf.*

   [* Editor's footnote: I never thought of it that way.]

   But get this: He says, moreover, the phrase, 'a wolf in sheep's clothing', is actually a reference to some dog shepherds who wear winter coats made from sheepskin, sometimes fleeced from members of their own flocks.*

   [* Editor's footnote: With such preposterous statements, I don't wonder that he's called a wolf in sheep's clothing!]

   Yes, Mr. Editor, you make a valid point, but remember that you and I are chickens, and Mr. Black Sheep is a sheep; and sheep, being as silly as they are, need to be shepherded by dogs, who are almost as intelligent as chickens -- their only weak point being that they dwell far too long on one subject, thus giving the poor impressionable sheep the illusion of gaining tremendous wisdom.

   By the way, did you know that the expression, 'Take the bull by the horn,' was originally, 'Take the horn away from the bull?'

   [* Editor's footnote: Really? No, I didn't.]

   It was actually a reference to a certain trumpet playing bull elephant who used to perform in middle of the night while his neighbours were trying to sleep.

   [* Editor's footnote: Our friend, Baaa Baaa Black Sheep certainly has a horn to blow.]

   ...Which is exactly why the ecclesiastical canine elite are saying, 'Take the horn away from the bull!' The whole issue is giving them sleepless night, just as it did the neighbours of that proverbial bull elephant -- especially his most recent statement.

   [* Editor's footnote: Which is...?]

   'If the Shepherd of our souls was Himself a Lamb without blemish, why must sheep today be ruled over by dogs, and not sheep?'

   [* Editor's footnote: It would occur to me that being a black sheep, he's a lamb with a very large blemish, and therefore has no right to make any such statement.]

   I mentioned that to him, and he only hung his head, and said, 'Yes, I'm certainly not worthy to compare to Him, our true Shepherd,' and he went back to rubbing ointment into the wounds of an ailing sheep who seems to have been bitten.

   [* Editor's footnote: Bitten?]

   Yes. One of the other sheep said it was actually dog bites from their own shepherd over in the other pasture. Several of them had been nursed back to health by Baaa Baaa Black Sheep, so instead of attending their usual places of pasturing, they hang around Baaa Baaa.

  Usually, they say, the grass is much greener where ever he leads them, and they rest a lot beside still waters. I commented on this to Baaa Baaa, and he insists that it's the Great Shepherd who makes their cups overflow, and it's His rod and His staff that comfort, not his own doing at all. In fact, he refuses to admit that he's any sort of leader to the small flock, which the other sheep think he obviously is.

   [* Editor's footnote: The insinuation of shepherds actually biting their own sheep is quite serious!]

   I asked Baaa Baaa about it and he just shrugged, and said, 'Not all are like that. There are many who are sheep in wolves clothing.'

   (These are the exceptions I mentioned earlier).

   'They have to dress like wolves,' he went on, 'just to get through their seminary training. They even look like wolves from a distance, but up close, you can tell they have the heart of the Lamb without Blemish.'

   One gets the impression from Baaa Baaa that every other shepherd is really a sheep, but talking to the sheep who were bitten by dogs, one gets the impression these are few and far between.

   [* Editor's footnote: I hope you confirmed all this with other sources.]

   Of course! You don't think for one moment I get all my information from a flock of silly sheep! I went straight to the bishop to get his comment. And I tell you! He was so put out that I would even think such a thing that he barked at me and chased me off his pasture!

   [* Editor's footnote: I should certainly hope he would! To even think such a thing of such a noble profession! But my dear Mrs. Redfeather, haven't we dwelt on this subject an awfully long time? I'm getting a headache from being so focused on one thing, and I'm sure this isn't healthy!]

   Oh! My! Yes! And my apologies to all of you non-chickens! We've imposed so much knowledge on you I'm sure your heads must be in the clouds! But this Baaa Baaa Black Sheep is such an interesting character, I'm almost tempted to admire him! Do you know what he answered to my question, 'Baaa Baaa Black Sheep, have you any wool?'

   [* Editor's footnote: What did he say?]

   He answered, 'Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full. One for the Master, the Lamb who was slain, the rest for the orphan lambs who live down the lane.'

   [* Editor's footnote: I'm sure that many impressionable non-chickens would be tempted to admire the likes of such, so it's probably good that we covered it in such detail in a well balanced way, and speaking of balance, what do you find to contain the most protean, earthworms or grubs?]

   I find that earthworms are good, but discarded spaghetti can also be an excellent source of...

On to Part II


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