Footprints Without Feet

A Triumph of Surgery


This story has been written by James Herriot.

The subject of this story is a pet dog which is spoilt by its owner. The owner indulges her dog so much with food and other comforts that the dog has become overweight and cannot even walk properly. Finally, the dog has been taken to a veterinary doctor who treats the dog without using a single medicine.

The dog is left with all other dogs so that it can play and get the much needed physical exercise. After a period of enough physical activities, the dog loses much of its fat and becomes hale and hearty.

Apparently, this is a simple story with simple subject. But if we try to read between the words, the story has much significance for our life as well. You will see many kids who are overweight and spoilt because their parents just try to meet every demand of the kid. The kid develops into a couch potato which is not good for his life.

NCERT Exercise

Question 1: What kind of a person do you think the narrator, a veterinary surgeon, is? Would you say he is tactful as well as full of common sense?

Answer: The narrator seems to be a practical person with lots of common sense. He is helpful to others as well. The way he treats Tricki without a single medicine tells us about his common sense. Moreover, the way he shares eggs, wines and brandy; sent by Mrs. Pumphrey; with his staffs, tells us about his practical mindset.

Question 2: Do you think Tricki was happy to go home? What do you think will happen now?

Answer: The way Tricki jumps in its owner’s lap and the way it shows affection towards the owner indicates that Tricki is happy to go home. There can be to possibilities. Either Mrs. Punphrey will mend her ways and make Tricki an agile and healthier dog or she may go back to her old ways of spoiling Tricki’s habits.

Question 3: Do you think this is a real-life episode, or mere fiction? Or is it a mixture of both?

Answer: This can be anything. This can be a real life story or fiction or a mixture of both.

Question 4: This episode describes the silly behaviour of a rich woman who is foolishly indulgent, perhaps because she is lonely. Do you think such people are merely silly, or can their actions cause harm to others?

Answer: These sort of people have disposable money with no avenues to spend. They probably don’t inculcate a pastime. They can easily get bored so indulge in silly behavior. Some people dote too much on their child as well buying them more toys than they need and overfeeding them. These actions do more harm than good to the object of affection.

Question 5: Do you think there are also parents like Mrs Pumphrey?

Answer: Yes there are parents who are too much possessive about their kids. The sense of overindulgence can go in either way. There are examples of parents spoiling their child by meeting each and every demand of the child. There are also examples of strict parents who put unnecessary pressure on their child for study and particular behaviour pattern.

Question 6: What would you have done if you were: (i) a member of the staff in Mrs Pumphrey’s household, (ii) a neighbour? What would your life have been like, in general?

Answer: As a staff I would have no other way than to follow Mrs. Pumphrey’s orders. Otherwise she would have sacked me on my job.

As a neighbour I would have given her the proper suggestion. But the choice of following or refusing my suggestions is upto her. She is a rich lady who loves to splurge her money. So there is least chance that anybody can forcefully change her opinion about a subject.

Question 7: What would you have done if you were in the narrator’s place?

Answer: I would have done the same things which the narrator did. May be I would not have allowed Tricki back to Mrs. Pumphrey’s house.