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- Our Duty to Animals, Caroline Bray (London: S.W. Partridge & Co., 1871), pp. 109-10. Caroline Bray, also known as Cara, was a close friend of George Eliot's.
One of the things in this piece that struck me was that dogs can't bear to be laughed at.
We do sometimes laugh at Penny, but I hope it's friendly, inclusive laughter, rather than mocking. I learned many years ago that dogs are hurt if we laugh unkindly at them. It was a real surprise to me, because at that stage I had not lived with a dog.
I was at a writing workshop in a friend's lounge room and five visitors - members of the group - had arrived and the six of us were busily discussing each other's pieces of text, with the resident black labrador lying under the table. When a latecomer bustled in, the dog leaped to his feet in surprise and barked loudly to alert us to the new arrival.
The whole group burst into loud laughter, because we thought it funny that he hadn't done anything to respond to the other five arrivals.
He was hurt. His tail drooped between his legs and he slunk off to a corner of the room to recover.