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Shep’s Hobby – Four Levels of Interactions | Flax Golden Tales

Shep’s Hobby – James Herriot, UK (1916-1995)

Literal Comprehension

The writer is a vet doctor. Once, he was called in the farm of Mr. Bailes for the treatment of the cow. The name of the cow was Rose and Rose was suffering from unknown stomach trouble. As the writer was walking on the farm of Mr. Bailes, he was lost in deep thought. Suddenly, the dog Jumped up and barked showing the red mouth. It was Shep, Mr. Bailes dog. The dog frightened the writer. The writer treated the cow. Next day, the writer went to the Mr. Bailes farm to know the condition of the cow. This time also the dog barked at him.  This time he found the cow in a worse condition.

He was worried because there was no sign of improvement. This time he scolds the dog. Next afternoon, he was happy because he found Rose in good condition. But Mr. Bailes claimed that Rose was treated by the postman, Jim Oakley. Mr. Bailes said that the postman recovered his cow by making it galloping. Next summer, when he was walking through the Farm of Mr. Bailes, the dog did not bark at him. He felt sorry for this. Mr. Bailes home, he saw Shep barking at the tinker man. The tinker man was so frightened that he runaway leaving all his pots behind. The writer felt relieved this time because the Shep’s pleasure was not cut.


The story stands in favor of the right of the animal. The animals have also a hobby. They have their own ways of getting pleasure. Therefore, we should not think that we only have a feeling of pleasure and pain. Shep gets pleasure by barking at the passerby. The story challenges the ideas of human superiority over other animals. They have a different source of pleasure and satisfaction. Human beings do not have the right to destroy the pleasure of the animals.

Critical Thinking

The story is interesting and informative. But some of the ideas are questionable in the story. Mr. Bailes claims that the postman cured the cow. Is it possible for the postman to cure the cow which the veterinary surgeon could not cure? How can the cow run so fast if it was dying? Does the dog so simply understand the nature of human beings? Do all dogs bark only for fun?


While reading the story, I remember my dog “Kalu” in my home. Everybody in the family loves him. The dog also likes to play with my little brothers and sisters. My father always likes to play with him. But I did not like him. I used to scold him when it comes near to me. Maybe he wants to play with me but I did not like playing with the dog. But this story changes my mind. I understand that animals also have a feeling of pleasure. We human beings also can get pleasure by playing with them. Now I desire to play with my “Kalu”. I feel sorry for my past behavior with “Kalu”.

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