The Ass and The Lapdog

An Ass sees a lap Dog fawned over and decides to sit on the master’s lap like the Dog. Bad move as the Ass quickly finds out.

Clumsy jesting is no joke.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

A farmer went to the stables to see to his beasts of burden; among them was his favorite Ass, that was always well fed and often carried his master. With the farmer came his Lapdog, who danced about and licked his hand and frisked about. The farmer gave the Lapdog some food, and sat down. The Lapdog jumped into his master’s lap, and lay there while the farmer stroked his ears. The Ass, seeing this, broke loose from his halter and commenced prancing about in imitation of the Lapdog. The farmer could not hold his sides with laughter, so the Ass went up to him, and attempted to climb into his lap. The farmer’s servants rushed up with sticks and pitchforks and drove the Ass back to the stables.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Ass and Lapdog

Milo Winter (1919)

There was once an Ass whose Master also owned a Lap Dog. This Dog was a favorite and received many a pat and kind word from his Master, as well as choice bits from his plate. Every day the Dog would run to meet the Master, frisking playfully about and leaping up to lick his hands and face.

All this the Ass saw with much discontent. Though he was well fed, he had much work to do; besides, the Master hardly ever took any notice of him.

Now the jealous Ass got it into his silly head that all he had to do to win his Master’s favor was to act like the Dog. So one day he left his stable and clattered eagerly into the house.

Finding his Master seated at the dinner table, he kicked up his heels and, with a loud bray, pranced giddily around the table, upsetting it as he did so. Then he planted his forefeet on his Master’s knees and rolled out his tongue to lick the Master’s face, as he had seen the Dog do. But his weight upset the chair, and Ass and man rolled over together in the pile of broken dishes from the table.

The Master was much alarmed at the strange behavior of the Ass, and calling for help, soon attracted the attention of the servants. When they saw the danger the Master was in from the clumsy beast, they set upon the Ass and drove him with kicks and blows back to the stable. There they left him to mourn the foolishness that had brought him nothing but a sound beating.


Behavior that is regarded as agreeable in one is very rude and impertinent in another.

Do not try to gain favor by acting in a way that is contrary to your own nature and character.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A man had an Ass, and a Maltese Lapdog, a very great beauty. The Ass was left in a stable and had plenty of oats and hay to eat, just as any other Ass would. The Lapdog knew many tricks and was a great favorite with his master, who often fondled him and seldom went out to dine without bringing him home some tidbit to eat. The Ass, on the contrary, had much work to do in grinding the corn-mill and in carrying wood from the forest or burdens from the farm. He often lamented his own hard fate and contrasted it with the luxury and idleness of the Lapdog, till at last one day he broke his cords and halter, and galloped into his master’s house, kicking up his heels without measure, and frisking and fawning as well as he could. He next tried to jump about his master as he had seen the Lapdog do, but he broke the table and smashed all the dishes upon it to atoms. He then attempted to lick his master, and jumped upon his back. The servants, hearing the strange hubbub and perceiving the danger of their master, quickly relieved him, and drove out the Ass to his stable with kicks and clubs and cuffs. The Ass, as he returned to his stall beaten nearly to death, thus lamented: “I have brought it all on myself! Why could I not have been contented to labor with my companions, and not wish to be idle all the day like that useless little Lapdog!”

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall (The Ass and the Little Dog)

Croxall - Ass and LIttle DogTHE Ass observing how great a favourite the little Dog was with his master, how much caressed and fondled, and fed with good bits at every meal; and for no other reason, as he could perceive, but skipping and frisking about, wagging his tail, and leaping up in his master’s lap; he was resolved to imitate the same, and see whether such a behaviour would not procure him the same favours. Accordingly, the master was no sooner come home from walking about his fields and gardens, and was seated in his easy-chair, but the Ass, who observed him, came gamboling and braying towards him, in a very awkward manner. The master could not help laughing aloud at the odd sight. But his jest was soon turned into earnest, when he felt the rough salute of the Ass’s forefeet, who, raising himself upon his hinder legs, pawed against his breast with a most loving air, and would fain have jumped into his lap. The good man, terrified at this outrageous behaviour, and unable to endure the weight of so heavy a beast, cried out; upon which, one of his servants running in with a good stick, and laying heartily upon the bones of the poor Ass, soon convinced him, that every one who desire it, is not qualified to be a favourite.


Whittingham - Ass and Little Dog

C. Whittingham (1814)

Some men are as engaging in their way as little dogs. They can fawn, wheedle, cringe, or, if occasion requires, leap backward and forward over a stick, to the great emolument of their master, and entertainment of those that behold them. But these are qualifications to which every body cannot pretend; and therefore none but those who have a genius for it should aspire at the employment. Many a man envies the happiness of these favourites, and would fain insinuate himself into the same good graces, if he did but know the way; but, whoever has a tolerable share of discretion, will distrust his abilities in this respect, and modestly forbear the attempt, for fear he should miscarry and look like an ass. But, in short, the true moral of this fable is, that every one should consider the just turn and temper of his parts, and weigh the talents by which he hopes to be distinguished. After such an examination, he may the more certainly know how to apply them to the most proper purposes; at least, so as not to hurt, or even mortify himself by any mistaken address. Since there is such a variety of tempers in the world, and a no less multiplicity of arts and studies to sit and tally with them, how reasonable is it in general, how much would it be for the true interest of every one in particular, if men would but be directed by the natural bent of their genius, to such pursuits as are most agreeable to their capacities, and to tbe rudiments of education which they have most strongly imbibed?

Taylor RhymesJefferys Taylor (The Jealous Ass)

Taylor - Jealous Ass 0141“THERE lived,” says friend Aesop, “some ages ago,
An ass who had feelings acute, you must know;
This ass to be jealous felt strongly inclined,
And for reasons which follow, felt hurt in his mind.”

It seems that his master, as I understand,
Had a favourite dog which he fed from his hand;
Nay, the dog was permitted to jump on his knee:
An honour that vex’d our poor donkey to see.

“Now,” thought he, “what’s the reason—I cannot see any,
That I have no favours, while he has so many?
If all this is got by just wagging his tail,
Why I have got one, which I’ll wag without fail.”

So the donkey, resolved to try what he could do,
And, determined unusual attentions to shew,
When his master was dining came into the room.
—”Good sir!” said his friends, “why your donkey is come!”

“Indeed!” said their host, great astonishment showing.
When he saw the ass come, while his tail was a-going;
But who can describe his dismay or his fear,
When the donkey rear’d up, and bray’d loud in his ear!

“You rascal, get down,—John, Edward, or Dick!
Where are you? make haste, and come here with a stick.”
The man roar’d—his guests laugh’d—the dog bark’d—the bell rung;
Coals, poker, and tongs at the donkey were flung,

Till the blows and the kicks, with combined demonstration,
Convinced him that this was a bad speculation;
So, mortified deeply, his footsteps re-trod he,
Hurt much in his mind, but still more in his body.

So some silly children, as stupid as may be,
Will cry for indulgences fit for a baby.
Had they enter’d the room while the donkey withdrew,
They’d have seen their own folly and punishment too:
Let them think of this fable, and what came to pass:
Nor forget,—he who play’d this fine game was an ass.

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version (An Asse and A Whelp)

A gentleman had got a favourite spaniel, that would be still toying, and leaping upon him, licking his cheeks, and playing a thousand pretty gambles, which the master was well enough pleas’d withall. This wanton humour succeeded so well with the puppy, that an asse in the house would needs go the same gamesom way to work, to curry favour for himself too; but he was quickly given to understand, with a good cudgel, the difference betwixt the one play-fellow and the other.


People that live by example, should do well to look very narrowly into the force and authority of the president, without saying, or doing things at a venture: for that may become one man, which would be absolutely intolerable in another, under differing circumstances.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

The Ass observing how great a favourite a Little Dog was with his master, how much caressed and fondled, and fed with choice bits at every meal–and for no other reason, that he could see, but skipping and frisking about and wagging his tail–resolved to imitate him, and see whether the same behaviour would not bring him similar favours. Accordingly, the master was no sooner come home from walking, and seated in his easy-chair, than the Ass came into the room, and danced around him with many an awkward gambol. The man could not help laughing aloud at the odd sight. The joke, however, became serious when the Ass, rising on his hind-legs, laid his fore-feet upon his master’s shoulders, and braying in his face in the most fascinating manner, would fain have jumped into his lap. The man cried out for help, and one of his servants running in with a good stick, laid it unmercifully on the bones of the poor Ass, who was glad to get back to his stable.

Crane Poetry VisualCrane Poetry Visual


Ass and Lap Dog

“How Master that little Dog pets!”
Thinks the Ass; & with jealousy frets,
So he climbs Master’s knees,
Hoping dog-like to please,
And a drubbing is all that he gets.

Asses must not expect to be fondled.

1001Asinus et Domini Canis

Dominus asini habebat etiam catulum. Is a domino saepe laudabatur et permulcebatur, frustaque semper egregia ei dabantur. Hoc cum invidia videbat asinus. Cogitabat secum, “Cur canis ita amatur a domino? Cur ego male tractor? Ille inutilis est; ego maxima semper commoda domino comparavi. At canis callidus est adulator; a me dominus numquam blanditias accepit. Etiam ego amabor, si idem faciam quod ille facere solet.” Forte, hoc tempore dominus intrat in stabulum. Statim asinus accurrit rudens, pedes ponit in domini humeris, et faciem lata sua lingua lambere incipit. Exterritus dominus et iratus, vocat famulos qui fustibus asinum stultum misere mulcant; mulcatus, stultitiam suam deploravit.


Quod catulum, non decet asinum.

Perry #091