Dear Auntie Ora

I have, for the past 15-18 years or so, immersed myself in the endeavour of teaching poodles how to fly. "Little chance of success," you might say, and you would be understating the case. Practically nil, in my experience.

I take a poodle up in my plane, shout, "Fly, fly, you devil!" as I hurl it through the hatch, and then watch this small white, fluffy form plunge downwards, growing ever smaller until it disappears from sight. Sometimes, I fancy I hear a soft thud and yelp as it hits the ground hundreds of feet below. It's all rather pathetic, really.

I should therefore be grateful for a piece or two of advice on how to get the little blighters to stay up. I'm frankly getting just a trifle cheesed off with the whole business, and am starting to wonder if there isn't something more rewarding I could be getting on with, like opening a restaurant in the middle of a bog on Dartmoor. In any case, there's just so many red and white blotches on the landscape one can explain away as sheep that have accidentally stepped on landmines before the bereaved owners start giving one sideways glances.

Yours, etc.,

Sir Arthur.


Dear Sir Arthur,

in my continual dedication to empirical investigation of customers' queries, I went out and purchased a boxed set of one dozen assorted poodles and various aviatory equipment.

Now, while there are several ways to teach poodles to fly, your current approach isn't likely to be fruitful, as poodles just aren't smart enough to get scared weightless at the sight of the rapidly approaching ground. (Two down the drain, so to speak.)

You could equip your four-legged furballs with parachutes. Do remember to teach them to pull the strings before they hit the ground. (The ones I used must have been exceptionally dumb. Well, at least I didn't have to dig any holes for this lot. Small blessings...)

Another tack would be miniature airplanes or helicopters. While this is an expensive solution it should work for miniature poodles. (I can report that it didn't work for full-sized ones. They got quite high before they crashed, though. The ice cream seller will probably be alright, eventually.)

Or go for the natural solution and supply your poodles with wings. I suggest pigeon or sea-gull wings. You don't have the wear and tear on junior assistants that eagle or albatross wings bring, and you don't get into trouble with Greenpeace either. The wings are both smelly and messy though, so if you're a fastidious person that might not be the solution for you. Especially as the poodles make even more of a mess when you sew their wings on.

So you might try to teach your poodles transcendental meditation. If you are at a loss for which guru to follow we'll be happy to lend you some of the, ummm, *interesting* (if overperfumed) advertisements we have been receiving lately. [Funny, we didn't used to get those ads before Cassie went to that new age psychology course. Sigh.]

Yours,

Pythia DiStefano,
Delphic Research Inc.

P.S. The "miscellaneous" on your invoice includes purchasing puppies, acquiring aircraft, and paying off PETA. I had to bribe a Greenpeace official too. Those eagles sure weren't cheap.

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