The Dog’s Commandments by Christopher Morley

Story type: Essay

From a witless puppy I brought thee up: gave thee fire and food, and taught thee the self-respect of an honest dog. Hear, then, my commandments:

I am thy master: thou shalt have no other masters before me. Where I go, shalt thou follow; where I abide, tarry thou also.

My house is thy castle; thou shalt honor it; guard it with thy life if need be.

By daylight, suffer all that approach peaceably to enter without protest. But after nightfall thou shalt give tongue when men draw near.

Use not thy teeth on any man without good cause and intolerable provocation; and never on women or children.

Honor thy master and thy mistress, that thy days may be long in the land.

Thou shalt not consort with mongrels, nor with dogs that are common or unclean.

Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not feed upon refuse or stray bits: thy meat waits thee regularly in the kitchen.

Thou shalt not bury bones in the flower beds.

Cats are to be chased, but in sport only; seek not to devour them: their teeth and claws are deadly.

Thou shalt not snap at my neighbor, nor at his wife, nor his child, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor do harm to aught that is his.

The drawing-room rug is not for thee, nor the sofa, nor the best armchair. Thou hast the porch and thy own kennel. But for the love I bear thee, there is always a corner for thee by the winter fire.

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Meditate on these commandments day and night; so shalt thou be a dog of good breeding and an honor to thy master.

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