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She worked next door to the shop where I worked.  We would chat; I wasn’t working with animals much at the time, but I was always interested in people and pets and the conversation took on a life of its own.

She owned rather a lot of horses; she confessed that she mostly enjoyed them but there was an exception and it was a whopper.   He was a big fellow, beautiful; but try as she might he was meaner than a hornet and nothing she did would shift his behavior.  The vet vetted and the horse whisperer whispered, but to no avail and she thought in despair that she might have to sell him.

Still, who would buy this brute, beautiful though he might be?   He was a danger to all and this was her problem:  she had mid-sized children and an elderly parent in her household and while the offender was carefully sequestered, she worried about errors and escapes, the unforeseen.  She worried for her own safety, and for her husband.

Oh my, I thought, now here’s a real problem and how would one go about solving it?   We’d fallen into silence, each retreating into into her own head for the moment.  But then I had a thought.

“Say,” I said.  “What’s his name?”

“Oh,” she said, “It’s Cerberus.”

Pause.

“Huh.” I said.  “Do you mean the 3-headed, serpent-tailed dog who’s the guardian of the gates of hell?”

“Yes.”

“Well,” I told her, “there you go.”

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