From the book…
Animals’ Guide to the Human Race
© 2017-19 D. E. Kendall
© Adobe Stock for front cover image
Cover design © 2019 David Norrington
The Author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved. This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United Kingdom. Any reproduction or other unauthorised use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited without the express written permission of the Publisher.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the Publisher.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Published in the United Kingdom by Wordcatcher Publishing Group Ltd
Print edition ISBN: 9781911265344
Ebook edition ISBN: 9781789421408
Dedicated to all the wonderful animals (and humans!) who inspire me.
Also, special dedication goes to my late grandmother, Elsie, who believed in me and always supported my writing.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to enjoy this book.
Humans experience excessive stress every day. We felt the need to transform the way you read, because reading is important to help you escape reality – even for a little while.
Although, we have noticed it’s difficult for you to find time to read. This is no ordinary book. Unlike ordinary books it takes just a few moments to read a case study or two to inspire smiling and laughter; even in the darkest of times. We’ve concluded that smiling and laughter are the best medicine.
Now you’re wondering how we achieved this marvellous feat, aren’t you? Aha, our masterful skills don’t end at brightening up your life you know! Use of high-specification, extremely advanced, technological apparatus (the location of which will remain top secret, along with the identity of its creators) has enabled us to convert brainwaves into written language understandable to humans.
We provide case studies on a variety of human subjects:
Basic Behaviour, Confusing Courtship, Funny Food Fads, Household Hierarchy, Human Habitats, Interesting Inventions, Mischievous Minors, Training Tips, and Various Vocations.
We hope you’ll love our case studies as much as we love you…
Contributor #54 Ginger Cat – Family Pet
Reporting on Funny Food Fads
I am unhappy with the human attitude toward food. Humans do not respect the good old fashioned tradition of working for one’s meal; they’re satisfied with ready-packaged edibles, and going about their wasteful lives without any appreciation for the sense of achievement derived from the hunt for food.
I work very hard all night long to provide my humans with a fresh catch every morning; I have yet to experience thanks for my efforts. I live in hope that they may one day learn the lengths taken to provide fresh, plastic-less meals. I usually choose to chase rats, mice, voles, frogs, birds, and pond fish. Sometimes I don’t even kill them first – I feel it’s important to give my humans mental stimulation from time to time.
The time they spend staring into the abyss of flashing screens, pretending to think, is unhealthy – so I feel accomplished when I encourage them to exercise those well-hidden hunting instincts. I must admit, it’s also super funny watching humans attempt to hunt!
This one time I’d caught a particularly ferocious mouse. Usually timid and terrified of meeting their fate at my skilful paws, I was shocked that this one was able to escape my clutches. Leaving my humans to deal with the little stinker, I sat upon the sofa arm to enjoy the epic show about to unfold…
Firstly, there was much screaming and jumping onto furniture; the mouse sensed my humans’ fear, so used that fear to its advantage. Making its way to the kitchen, without risk of being trodden on by humans hiding up high, the mouse was so confident it seemed to strut! I followed the action.
As my humans’ curiosity got the better of them, they started sneaking around the corner of the kitchen doorway; they watched helplessly, as the tiny creature began demolishing freshly baked brownies left to cool on the counter.
Panicky fear quickly turned to anger, as my humans suddenly plucked up enough courage to push the youngest in to meet their maker. The mouse caught sight of the young human and froze for a second.
Not seeming phased by the pillow held in front of the young human’s face, the mouse bravely jumped from the counter; it then landed expertly in the empty sink, before springing from the sink and onto the window sill.
Taunting the terrified young human, the mouse hopped gleefully across the flowerpots – it could’ve escaped out of the open window, but nope; Mouse was enjoying the chase.
Upon losing the protection of their pillows, the youngest now armed with a jam jar, humans continued the chase. Mouse led them all around the house.
It was particularly amusing when the teeny beggar entered the relieve room. There was a visiting human in there when the mouse scooted under the door. Family humans were dumbfounded in shock; staring at each other in disbelief.
Time stood still. All was silent. Until, from the relieve room crashed a half-naked visiting human. Their polished rear end on show as they tripped over their fallen drawers. The mouse jumped up onto the fallen human, danced upon his head, then continued to take the other humans on an obstacle-course challenge!
Eventually, they opened a door and the mouse made its valiant escape. I wasn’t allowed outside for three whole days; I had to eat packaged meat, and did my business in a littered tray.
Contributor #64 Labrador–Guide Dog and Family Pet
Reporting on Interesting Inventions
I help my human locate her way around the world, and in return she offers me a wonderful way of life as part of her human pack. As well as my human and her male, there’s also a cockatoo, tank full of fish, Washing Machine, and a bizarre creature they call Mop; who only makes an appearance on special occasions, such as spillages.
There are many interesting inventions I encounter on my travels that, I learned over the course of two years, are not chew-worthy. Cushions, cuddly toys, Cockatoo’s fruit sticks, slippers (the left ones), socks, sweet wrappings, hats, newspapers, tennis ball fluff and Mop. None of those are easy to digest – tennis ball fluff causes neon poop, and male human had to extract a hat from my rear end when it emerged intact once. Since then I study new inventions instead of chew them.
I enjoy the opportunity to learn more about humans each day, especially through their inventions; though I never forget my guiding duties, ensuring my human is safe at all times. I use buses every day, and have even used a train with my human. I’ve travelled into shops, libraries, stadiums, and many other places dogs aren’t usually allowed to go.
Out of all the human-invented places I go, I enjoy visiting restaurants best. They’re often bustling and busy, plus humans in restaurants always give me lots of attention, which makes me feel very special indeed; I often end up eating an entire week’s worth of food in one sitting! However, there was one trip to a restaurant that was followed by an extremely interesting experience.
My human was very excited about something; her male could barely contain her bounciness. After excitedly chatting with a sizeable group of all-female friends over lunch, I spent the afternoon leading her all around crowded shopping stalls with her friends, searching for scents and clothes – I had no idea what that was all about.
When we returned home, male attempted to take me to the car without my female. I refused to leave at first; it took much persuading to alleviate me of my duty. After a short trip in the car, I found myself at the Groomer’s – somewhere I hadn’t been for a while; I loved being pampered. After that male human then carried me from the car into our house; which was weird. I hadn’t tinkled for quite some time, other than that sneaky one in the shower.
I was super pleased to be reunited with my female, and she seemed just as glad that I was home; revelling in my fresh, clean scent. I ask politely when I need to *ahem* do my business – I tap the door if male is around, whilst with my female I must lead her to the door and whimper a little, so she lets me run free for a few minutes.
After visiting the Groomer’s, I woke from my nap and led my female to the door – fully expecting to be let outside for evening relief; I wasn’t. I wondered whether my female had perhaps been distracted, so I asked male to let me out instead. He laughed, placed a square of white linen on the floor by the garden door, then said, “Wedding’s tomorrow and you’re a guest of honour, so I’m afraid no going in the garden tonight in case of mud, sorry.”
Confused, I decided I had no choice but to hold it in, hoping the following day would continue as usual. I was shocked when our home filled with female humans so early. They all fussed and danced around my female – I felt useless as they led her around. I continued to ask to go outside; no luck. That white linen square was starting to look ever so inviting; nobody was watching, so, I did it. Against my better judgment, I peed there.
Male human walked around the corner – I gave my best ‘I am so, so sorry’ look, smiling with guilt, though I didn’t need to. He noticed what I’d done and praised me! Seemed a step backward from my official training, but I wasn’t about to complain.
After the other females left around lunchtime, I led my female all around the house in a frenzied panic. Male human helped dress her, as we raced about in a rush. He carried me into the car. Then, just as I began to fret, he carried my female to the car too – she was wearing a brightly coloured, frilly dress. I hadn’t a moment to myself yet that morning; I had become desperate for relief.
We arrived at a grand-looking building with flowers, and trees, and stone ornaments in front of it. Just as we approached, my human and I jumped from the car to join the front of the entrance queue. Then, a few minutes later, we all parted from the pathway to allow a nervous looking female human – wearing the biggest white linen marshmallow gown I had ever seen – to walk through attached to her male parent.
My human female and I followed directly afterward. As we stopped in the aisle with crowds either side of us, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. There was the longest trail of linen offered right in front of me; I knew there was a human dragging it around, but I was certain she wouldn’t mind if I borrowed a small piece of it…
So, in my moment of desperation, as crowds watched in awe as the couple to the front made promises to one another, I did it.
Nobody noticed at first; until she began to walk back down the aisle attached the male with whom she had exchanged promises. Bright yellow contrasted excellently with brilliant white linen, as she dragged it along the pathway behind her.
After the initial looks of shock horror and whispering ceased, laughter ensued!
Contributor #107 Hermann’s Tortoise–Exotic Pet
Reporting on Human Habitats
Humans assume my species are slow. We are not. Do we take our time to assess the world in its entirety before acting? Indeed, we do. Humans do not understand the purpose behind my other mannerisms either.
For instance, should I need to relieve myself I do so no-matter where I am, no-matter whose lap I’m on. I do not believe I ought to go around with an uncomfortable bladder, simply to avoid offending a visitor with harmless, if a bit pongy, pee. They have special rooms for their own bodily functions, so humans’ bodily functions obviously upset one another too. Perhaps that is the reason they’re so uptight? Not because they’re afraid I might destroy their third cream carpet in a year, but because they don’t want to upset one another… Anyway, I stray.
I like assessing humans in their habitats, as well as the habitats themselves. Many moons ago, humans had no time for anything other than cooking or preserving food, cleaning everything by hand (soot gets everywhere; I understand why humans love radiators), creating many children (they didn’t have televisions back then), and working non-stop to make it through each day alive. Their environment was much darker, and home fashions were hideous to be quite honest (I mean, mustard wallpaper and dark brown carpets – what were they thinking?!).
In years gone by, I was left to roam outside, even if it were cold. That generation of humans were tough. They lived through wars, so I suppose humans needed to be tough then. Their food wasn’t tough though. Fridges weren’t readily available, so crisp lettuce leaves were a rare treat. My diet was very limited. I went into hibernation in a cramped cardboard box every autumn, after enjoying my fill of (sometimes stale) jam sandwiches. Over the course of a few springtime awakenings, I found I’d eaten a toe or two in my sleep!
As time ticked on, habitats changed dramatically. Radiators, washing machines, fridges, and decent interior designers became readily available. Not only have changes to habitats occurred almost overnight it seems, but there has been much change in humans themselves too.
The generation before last enjoyed board games of a cold spring eve. All cosied up in front of the fire, my humans would revel in laughter and converse about many things. I was fortunate to have been involved in such occasions. Cuddled up, happy.
Nowadays humans don’t make much time for togetherness. Except at Christmas; I don’t need to hibernate anymore thanks to UV lighting and advancements in science, allowing me to finally enjoy Christmas too. The chance to observe arguments over counterfeit money and imaginary business transactions are rare – I cherish them. They are very funny.
Youngest generation play games on large screens, covering their ears with mufflers, whilst talking to imaginary friends. Their parents leave them to it (can’t say I blame them, my species lay eggs and let them be).
Humans ‘video’ everything and ‘share’ it now too. I was minding my own business one day last month, deciding whether to tackle climbing the footstool onto the sofa, when I was disturbed. Young humans had visitors, which was not unusual, there’s always strangers about, though their paying attention to me was a bit odd (being over fifty years old one does tend to become ‘part of the furniture’).
There were about five of them, I think. That new kitten of theirs wasn’t in on their plan either. Like a swarm of angry bees, they surrounded me. At first, I thought I might have offended them, by trying to climb onto their beloved sofa myself. Then, they scooped the sleeping kitten from the sofa and placed him upon my back. I did attempt to rush away from the situation but chose not to move too quickly in case I startled the kitten, obviously.
The young humans chuckled and chortled as they watched me carefully carry the sleeping kitten to the kitchen. Fully expecting there to be a responsible adult there, I was disappointed to find nothing but slippery floor. My sliding awoke the kitten, who, upon realising he was not on the sofa, began clinging onto my shell for dear life.
As I slid around the floor, kitten refused to let go. By this point, the gang of annoying human miscreants were unable to function for guffaw.
Thankfully, dog heard this commotion and raced to the rescue. Bowling over the laughing troublemakers as she shooed the kitten from my shell. She then led me gently to safety of the dining room.
Anyway, when human youngsters aren’t irritating me, my attention is firmly on food. It is out-of-this-world nowadays! Takes me a while to decide in what order to eat my lovely thrice-daily feasts. There’s watercress, curly kale, rocket, carrot, parsnip and more – definitely a step-up from jam sandwiches; though I shall always hold a soft spot for that infamous human delicacy.
Contributor #34 Syrian Hamster–Family Pet
Reporting on Interesting Inventions
Humans know they aren’t going to remain on top. That is why they’re continually striving to improve their inventive technologies. They’re well aware it won’t be long until hamsters take over the world. Fear of our inevitable take-over has led to humans trying in any way they can to contain our power. Pretending to treat us as beloved pets, whilst in reality it is their way of keeping our species down.
Having spent my entire two years with the species, I am certain this fear of our takeover is the reason behind the ludicrous invention of cages. There are many obstacles and traps we are faced with, should hamsters escape the confines of a cage. The sheer cheek of this confinement comes to light when they tease us with freedom by placing us in annoying plastic balls, only to watch us run around and crash into things as they laugh at their fortunes. It really does grind my gears.
I shall come back to said obstacles and traps in a moment, but for now I want to describe how cages suppress our natural leadership.
Humans love size. The bigger the better it seems. They judge even their own species on sizeable assets, assuming smaller means weaker. Well, they are wrong.
They secretly know of our superiority in the race for world domination; yet hide this by their overly excessive judgment of size. Personally, I’ve found being small in stature useful in many an instance.
Up until last week, I had broken out of no less than fifteen cages in under twelve months. My humans are becoming increasingly frustrated at my epic adventures.
I’ve now found myself in a cage worthy of concealing a human criminal. Each exit point held shut by padlock; every possible escape route hidden by plastic coating. I’m offered much in the way of food and treats, to keep me in line, but I intend to find an escape route by next week at the latest. Other cages have been easy to escape from. One simply has to chew through plastic casing, and in a short space of time are free to roam the wilderness. I have also experienced cages with doors that open with ease, and even a few that I could squeeze through the bars of. I managed to escape via the distraction of a staged cat-attack on one occasion. I even used my plastic ball vehicle to break the base of one particularly tough cage.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever prepare a hamster for the human home, however. Other than filling their habitat with fellow predators such as cats and dogs, both of whom are also obsessed with size – picking on those of smaller species, humans overload their abode with dangerous trickery set to destroy an avid, aspiring hamster leader.
Unmentionable torture awaits should one get caught too soon. Their efforts thwarted by the desire for rightful power that led them to fall into the laps of humans at feeding time; landing a stint in the vet transport box. Nothing but a water bottle and food bowl for company – that was one hellish day, I tell you.
Their homes are also filled with sparky electrical wires that shock you if you attempt to destroy them. Then there’s the giant hot food creator. Humans use this to ward off potential visitors with unpleasant smells. Not forgetting the water-world they conceal behind an enormous door. I once managed to crawl beneath it, only to find myself in a horror scene! Water running from every direction as an adult human prepared to immerse themselves in a gigantic bowl of steaming, bubbling liquid. I found it disorientating. So, I clambered up onto their throne; unfortunately revealing my position to the human – they screamed in fear at my presence.
One day I am determined to overcome my earthly bounds. I will succeed in bringing hamsters to the fore of world domination, and I intend to take humanity down – one invention at a time…
Contributor #109 Bearded Dragon– Former Rescue, now Pet Shop Resident
Reporting on Funny Food Fads
As I am sure you are aware, being human yourself, natural instincts seem historic today. Having come from a human home filled with too many bodies to count, I was privy to many a mealtime. Humans used foodstuffs from shiny packaging.
Never did I witness them catch or cook their own prey. I believe this was the reason they spiralled into an uncontrollable fifth fest. Didn’t take long before those empty food packages piled up high. There was nowhere for humans to clean themselves, so they gave up cleaning their environment. There were other species living there too: dogs, cats, birds, fish. All of us eventually forgotten about.
I lived in the feeding room, with the piles of empty packaging. One day all the humans upped and left – we were left to fend for ourselves. As dogs and cats scavenged through food packages, I had to survive on flies who entered my ever-cooling habitat. Spiders made for a decent meal too, though they proved surprisingly more difficult to obtain than flies.
Took a couple of weeks, but we were all removed from that situation when a neighbouring human noticed the smell. Now I am offered all I can eat, every day. I have a wonderfully clean, spacious habitat. Humans gather from all around to watch me skilfully hunt down unsuspecting prey. Although I do understand my prey don’t have means of escape, being able to exercise my natural hunting instinct is a fantastic form of enrichment; makes life worth living. Perhaps if those previous humans had put more effort into searching for their own prey, as opposed to finding ready-packaged feeds, their lives could have been very different.
I would, one day, love to watch a human stalk a jacket potato.
I often wonder what they are like in the wild, jacket potatoes. Where they live, what they eat etc. I only ever saw their shrivelled corpses removed from packing. I imagine they are fantastic to see, alive, in their natural habitat. I mean, I understand there must be humans out there, somewhere, who provide for themselves. Heck, I know there’s even humans who hunt this prey down, or at least trick it into being captured, to place it into packaging. But to see humans living off processed food is frustrating, to say the least.
Yesterday, a carer human offered me something I have never encountered in my life. In a dish I was presented with chopped up orange, green and red remains of what I can only imagine were once majestic vegetables. And to add insult to injury, they were offered upon a bed of leaves – leaves! What dignity is there in being caught, probably by traps and not even hunted, only to be chopped up and fed ready-prepared? Those poor vegetables deserve more respect than that.
If opportunity arose, I wouldn’t know how to, but I would happily learn how to properly hunt vegetables. I ponder where their legs are, how they run, what they eat, whether they lay eggs, and where they all live.
I bet there are some excellent orange-coloured trees out there where carrots hide from predators. I believe that even insects deserve respect. I never touch the dead ones. They wanted to die of natural causes, which was their own choice. Just as with those I do eat, who choose to be too slow to escape my expertise.
Humans really need to learn this mindset, if they are ever to find true contentment with food.
Contributor #100 Welsh Section B Cross– Mounted Games Expert
Reporting on Basic Behaviour
I’ve exchanged owners more times that it has rained at Christmas. Not because I misbehave, but because I’m just so damn amazing at what I do, humans like to share me around. (Probably doesn’t help that I’m 12.3hh, and most millennial human youngsters grow larger than the average cow before the age of ten…)
In my line of work, I can’t be at my best if I’m carrying the equivalent of five sacks of feed around a course at high speed! As humans grow, I move on. Generally, to accommodate a smaller human. Last time I was moved from one stable yard to another, I was privy to something I’ve never known before; that was, an ‘advert’.
I’ve picked up on the meaning of most human words – I spend so much time around humans, I’d be silly if I didn’t at least try to learn their language.
One sunny afternoon, I was listening carefully to my latest young human. Sat with me in my stable, writing out something onto an electrical device, then reading it aloud to me. Apparently, as was explained to me by the human whilst they were creating it on their electronic device, an advert is the reason I end up moving miles away from wherever I was, to be kept by unfamiliar new humans.
I was informed my advert read:
“Very sad sale of talented mounted games pony. Welsh Section B cross – no idea what he’s crossed with, we don’t know who his sire was. Gelding. 12.2hh. Eleven years old. Always in the ribbons and super quick off the mark. No vices, other than kicking the door at feeding time. Great for farrier, vet, dentist, etc. 100% to catch, clip, travel, groom. Amazing with children. Builds confidence even in the most nervous or novice riders. Sadly outgrown. Call, text or send an email for more info.”
Human youngster assumed I approved from my snort – when in actual fact I found it a little unfair. I disliked how they made me out to be imperfect. Ok, so I don’t know who my sire was. Not many ponies do! From what they’ve said, potential new humans might have believed I could be part donkey – how rude.
Then there’s no need to bring my personal circumstances into it; so what if I’m not ‘entire’. Don’t want them putting off potential homes with mares, I have had girlfriends before. Then there’s my height. Why do they need to let other humans know how tall I am – and why did they get it wrong? That inch makes all the difference. I know I am greatly talented, at least they got that correct. But how dare they suggest I have vices of any kind?! To state that kicking the door at feeding time is a vice, pfft.
If that’s anyone’s vice it’s theirs; for being too darn slow delivering my meals. I stopped myself getting all worked up over the advert after that. Nothing I could do to change it.
However, I now have opportunity to create an advert for that human – revenge is a dish best served cold. It has been enjoyable inventing a suitable description for potential new equine partner for that particular human:
“For sale, twelve-year-old mounted games fanatic. Weight; immeasurable. Height; too tall. Usually well behaved, but does have tendency to nap (misbehave) when denied her own way. Loves galloping everywhere at full speed with assistance, though unable to jog more than one hundred yards under own steam – probably due to the fact she is overweight (‘fast food’ is a misleadingly ironic term and does her no favours) so probably laminitis prone too. Recently injured in field accident involving her lack of coordination approaching the smallest of log jumps. Almost back to full health, but definitely in need of a fitness programme and appropriate diet. Loves farrier, vet and dentist visits; particularly if professionals are young and male. Not so keen on travelling. Suffers morning moodiness – though enthusiasm shown after morning feed. No loans sorry. Need to sell due to being too heavy. Would be a sad sale had she spent more time with me. Great future competition prospect for potential new, preferably very tall and strong, equine partner. Ask for further details. Will welcome any trial, so long as I can watch… (could use some entertainment!).”
Comprehensive is best, I think. No need to make potential buyers read between the lines – tell them the truth so they’re fully prepared.