Source: David Howlett

Your Domestic Pet – A League

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Some advice for the discerning pet-lover

Do you own a league? They can be tricky pets to tame. They have their funny ways and need constant attention.

As George Orwell pithily put it: ‘Some are more equal than others’.

They have a rarity value, and a few have been put on the endangered list by the Animal Preservation Association.

They have their own inbuilt weaknesses, most of all their hierarchies, along the lines ’I’m bigger, better, healthier than you’. At their worst infighting can lead to untimely deaths. No-one wants to see any of them disappear.

But overall they deserve your best attention.

Let’s have a look at some of them: Allianz Premier 15s, Elite 1, Eccellenza, Energia All-Ireland League, Tennent’s Premiership, Super Aupiki, Buildcorp Super W

The Allianz Premier 15s

Widely accepted as the League of the Forest. Crowds of attentive creatures come to watch fights in specially prepared forest glades.

Bets are laid on who will prove the winner of each contest. The stakes are high. Once the battle is over, they all pretend they love each other dearly. But it could cost you an arm and a leg to keep them in condition.

If one of them does have the misfortune to suffer mortal wounds in battle, funerals are held strictly in private.

Before purchase, check your available funding with your banker.

Current numbers: 10, but open to re-assessment

Elite 1

As with the AP 15s, they never visit some parts of the forest. That leads all too easily to petty quarrels. You need to ensure your daily walks cover as much territory as possible, but that’s tiring for you.

They too have strict hierarchies. ‘The strong shall inherit the earth’ seems to be their watchword. Inevitably that means a few will disappear for ever from the hutch you provide. You may be upset, but there’s little you can do about it.

On balance, well worth the effort of taming and enjoying; they can be playful and amusing.

Current numbers: 12, in two pools


They have been affected by neglect and squabbling. You have to keep tight control, but may find it difficult. Another clearly defined hierarchy here; it’s no place for the weak-hearted. The strongest among them leave their corner of the forest, searching for other spots they think will benefit them more. It’s your job to train your pet to withstand the pressures of the world around it.

Will respond to good treatment.

Current numbers: 9

Tennent’s Premiership

These pets are finding life toughest. Here too there is a strong tendency to migration. It can be distressing for you to find your very own pet not returning through the league-flap at night.

Willing owners are harder to find than elsewhere. If you are a member of the APA, you will know where your duty lies.

Current numbers: 7

A possible solution:

Some owners would like to see these two breeds moved to the same protected part of the forest where they can serve their common interests better. But that would be an expensive undertaking and food supplies are short.

You must think carefully before spending your hard-earned wages on their protection.


Not a recent introduction to the animal kingdom, but a newly developed strain. Of interest to those of you who enjoy a challenge.

They remain a rarity, so have a certain value for the discerning pet owner. But they need constant attention. Unwise to let them out at night, as the largest of this strain are carnivorous.

Well worth the effort of nurturing. One day the breed will surely flourish.

Current numbers: 8

Super Aupiki

Only recently discovered breed in a distant part of the forest. Intrepid travellers were surprised to discover how advanced they were. Well worth the effort of getting to know. They will respond to good treatment with loving licks.

But their numbers are exceptionally few. Breeders are trying hard to correct this weakness. They are healthy but need careful nurturing. Once fully grown, they will do you proud – no doubt about that.

Current numbers: 4

Super W

Yet another breed only recently registered. Its numbers are few and far-flung. Would interest buyers who enjoy travel. Though they enjoy a lower status than other leagues, your weekly feeding costs may be just as considerable. Be warned: they occupy a distant corner of the forest where there are many other creatures hunting for prey.

Current numbers: 6