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      “Are you giving him plenty of exercise?”
     “Well, he has his little walks with me as you can see, but Hodgkin, the gardener, has been down with lumbago, so there has been no ring-throwing lately.”
     I tried to sound severe: “Now I really mean this. If you don’t cut his food right down and give him more exercise he is going to be really ill. You must harden your heart and keep him on a very strict diet.”
Though the narrator was aware that Tricki's problem was overfeeding, he never told Mrs. Pumphrey. He was well aware that Tricki's condition was caused by his greed and that Tricki had been pampered by Mrs. Pumphrey. The narrator again asked Mrs. Pumphrey if Tricki was exercising, to which Mrs. Pumphrey replied that she did take him out for walks now and then; she also gave a reason why the dog was not doing his ring-throwing exercise regularly: the gardener who used to take him out to play was unable to come to work due to lower back pain. 'Lumbago' means 'lower back pain'.
Mrs. Pumphrey had irritated the narrator by not following his advice, causing Tricki's condition to deteriorate worse. So he began a serious talk with Mrs. Pumphrey. He told Mrs. Pumphrey that if she did not put the above mentioned things into effect (such as cutting down on sweets and making Tricki exercise regularly), Tricki would become extremely ill.
After explaining the significance of nutrition and exercise, the narrator also advised Mrs. Pumphrey to be firm with Tricki and put him on a strict diet in order to avoid making the same mistake she had made previously.
Meaning of difficult words:
S. No.
Harden To get used to unfavourable conditions
Ring-throwingA game in which a ring is tossed and picked
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2008). Honeydew. A Triumph of Surgery - James Herriot (pp 1-6). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.