Beautiful Joe
Chapter 36


Please be aware that this book was originally published in 1894 and may contain words, descriptions, or other passages that may be considered offensive today.


About a week after Billy left us, the Morris family, much to its surprise, became the owner of a new dog. He walked into the house one cold, wintry afternoon and lay calmly down by the fire. He was a brindled bull-terrier, and he had on a silver-plated collar with "Dandy" engraved on it. He lay all the evening by the fire, and when any of the family spoke to him, he wagged his tail, and looked pleased. I growled a little at him at first, but he never cared a bit, and just dozed off to sleep, so I soon stopped.

He was such a well-bred dog, that the Morrises were afraid that some one had lost him. They made some inquiries the next day, and found that he belonged to a New York gentleman who had come to Fairport in the summer in a yacht. This dog did not like the yacht. He came ashore in a boat whenever he got a chance, and if he could not come in a boat, he would swim. He was a tramp, his master said, and he wouldn't stay long in any place. The Morrises were so amused with his impudence, that they did not send him away, but said every day, "Surely he will be gone to-morrow."

However, Mr. Dandy had gotten into comfortable quarters, and he had no intention of changing them, for a while at least. Then he was very handsome, and had such a pleasant way with him, that the family could not help liking him. I never cared for him. He fawned on the Morrises, and pretended he loved them, and afterward turned around and laughed and sneered at them in a way that made me very angry. I used to lecture him sometimes, and growl about him to Jim, but Jim always said, "Let him alone. You can't do him any good. He was born bad. His mother wasn't good. He tells me that she had a bad name among all the dogs in her neighborhood. She was a thief and a runaway." Though he provoked me so often, yet I could not help laughing at some of his stories, they were so funny.

We were lying out in the sun, on the platform at the back of the house, one day, and he had been more than usually provoking, so I got up to leave him. He put himself in my way, however, and said, coaxingly, "Don't be cross, old fellow. I'll tell you some stories to amuse you, old boy. What shall they be about?"

"I think the story of your life would be about as interesting as anything you could make up," I said, dryly.

"All right, fact or fiction, whichever you like. Here's a fact, plain and unvarnished. Born and bred in New York. Swell stable. Swell coachman. Swell master. Jewelled fingers of ladies poking at me, first thing I remember. First painful experience — being sent to vet. to have ears cut."

"What's a vet.?" I said.

"A veterinary — animal doctor. Vet. didn't cut ears enough. Master sent me back. Cut ears again. Summer time, and flies bad. Ears got sore and festered, flies very attentive. Coachman set little boy to brush flies off, but he'd run out in yard and leave me. Flies awful. Thought they'd eat me up, or else I'd shake out brains trying to get rid of them. Mother should have stayed home and licked my ears, but was cruising about neighborhood. Finally coachman put me in dark place, powdered ears, and they got well."

"Why didn't they cut your tail, too?" I said, looking at his long, slim tail, which was like a sewer rat's.

"'Twasn't the fashion, Mr. Wayback; a bull-terrier's ears are clipped to keep them from getting torn while fighting."

"You're not a fighting dog," I said.

"Not I. Too much trouble. I believe in taking things easy."

"I should think you did," I said, scornfully. "You never put yourself out for any one, I notice; but, speaking of cropping ears, what do you think of it?"

"Well," he said, with a sly glance at my head, "it isn't a pleasant operation; but one might as well be out of the world as out of the fashion. I don't care, now my ears are done."

"But," I said, "think of the poor dogs that will come after you."

"What difference does that make to me?" he said. "I'll be dead and out of the way. Men can cut off their ears, and tails, and legs, too, if they want to."

"Dandy," I said, angrily, "you're the most selfish dog that I ever saw."