Cat & Dog Circus

Excerpted from a March 6th, 1897 Scientific American Supplement, a description of Leonidas Arniotis’ exhibition of trained cats and dogs (his little circus) at the Berlin Winter Garden:

“A comic scene which follows is a triumph in animal training. “Cerberus” is chained at the left side of the stage. “Pippina” takes her place on a chair at the right, and Mr. Arniotis is seated at a well covered table in the center, ready to eat his supper. He has nothing to drink, and, as there is no one to wait on him, he is obliged to go for it himself. After he has left the stage “Cerberus” slips his collar off, climbs up on the table and eats the entire meal. As he is swallowing the last mouthful a thought comes to him of the punishment that must follow, and he looks to his friend to help him out of his difficulty. “Pippina” is then taken by the collar and set on the table, where she remains looking sad, while “Cerberus” resumes his collar. Mr. Arniotis returns, is suspicious of the unhappy victim sitting among the empty dishes, and is about to punish her, when she climbs on her master and whispers in his ear that “Cerberus” is the real culprit. “Pippina’s” innocence is established, and the audience thanks the performers with a round of applause.”

I’m increasingly interested in how much humor can be derived from the trope of the “disobedient dog.” There’s some line when mild disobedience is utterly charming (that is, in the face of otherwise total obedience), and then another line where disobedience mean the dog can be killed).  What is this line? How is it set?

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