Hi friends,

Upon reading the story at the link below, I found some cultural points, so to speak, that are difficult for me to figure out. Please help me out.

http://www.britishcouncil.org/...ories-pets-story.pdf

The points are:

1. What is the difference between 'staff' and 'owners' in the passage?

2. Why did Alberto want his neighbor to be staff but not owners?

3. What does 'they' refer to in:

“Make sure they give you food whenever you want!”
“Sit on the newspaper while B]they[/B] are reading it!”

4. What is meant by these?

“And finally, try not to bark, but to miaow instead.”

'... dogs have owners, cats have staff.”
Original Post
This is a funny little story.

First, the ‘neighbors’ are two animals.

Second, ‘owners’ are the people who own houses, businesses, etc. They are the bosses.

Third, the owners hire ‘staff.’

You can see that you are in a much better position if you are an owner than if you are staff. In today’s world, an exaggerated example is that Bill Gates is the owner of Microsoft, and that all the people who work in that company are his staff.

What is probably not obvious is that dogs are dependent on their masters, on their ‘owners.’ We do say that dogs have owners. Now, cats are different. Cats are very independent. People who know cats and love them say, affectionately, that the cats own them, not vice-versa, and people, masters, owners, own dogs.

Because cats are so independent, they themselves are like owners, and cause their people to – in a way – be their staff. If you are a doting cat-owner, like me, you realize that you would do anything to make your cat happy. So that’s why we cat-people are not the bosses of the cat; we are the cat’s staff.

Of course, this is a bit hyperbolical, but it shows the difference between dependent dogs and independent cats.

The lines in the story in which the neighbors are told not to bark (that’s the sound a dog makes – he barks), but instead to miaou (this is the sound a cat makes) means that the animal who sounds like a cat and acts like a cat will be the master, the owner, the boss, but the dog will be only ‘staff.’

About they in the story – it means the people the neighbors or animals live with. The cats should insist on being fed well.

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