Ernie and Theo talk trade and…dog treats

It was another balmy June evening. Ernie and Theo were sat under their favourite lamp post. As there were no treats around, the two friends were chewing the cud.

They talked about how the Farnworth Fire Fighters’ Summer Fete had gone. They agreed they’d enjoyed meeting their Farnworth friends and all the treats they got. Theo could see Ernie’s mind was on other things though. So, he asked if Ernie was ok.

“Theo, haven’t you heard? There is going to be a war. I am ever so frightened!” Ernie replied.

“There are many wars going on in the world Ernie, but they are in faraway places. I don’t think they’ll harm us,” Theo said in a puzzled voice.

Ernie was surprised at Theo. He thought his clever mate knew everything but he was wrong.

“Theo, I am sorry but you are wrong,” Ernie said stumbling over his words. “I was listening to my humans last night. There is going to be a trade war and we WILL be affected!!”

Theo just about contained a giggle.

“Oh, that war?” Theo replied managing to contain a giggle. “Yes, I have read about that. We won’t get killed in that war even if it happens,” he explained.

“How can you be so sure, Theo?” Ernie asked. “Anyone could get hurt when the war starts. Missiles can travel a long way and you never know where they will land!!”

Theo bit his tongue (but only gently). He counted to three – which was two more than Ernie could count to.

“Ernie, they don’t use missiles in a trade war” he explained patiently. “No, a trade war occurs when two countries use tariffs to make it more expensive to import each other’s goods”.  

Theo went on, “some economists say trade wars also lead to all sorts of bad things in the countries caught in such a war - like price increases and job losses which can leave everyone worse off. They also say these wars can escalate and cause trade to almost cease up completely which makes things even worse.”

Ernie had recently heard his humans saying new research had found dogs have 530 million cortical neurons in their brains. This, apparently, makes them pretty intelligent. He decided his cortical neurons must have gone walkies because, despite Theo’s explanation, he didn’t have a clue what ‘tariffs’ and ‘economists’ were.

“Oh right, Theo, so we don’t have anything to worry about at all?” Ernie asked as his eyes glazed over.

“No, I don’t think so,” Theo said quite confidently. He could see Ernie was a bit puzzled so he went on, “I understand the Americans are imposing tariffs on imports from Canada and Europe. This will make some of our goods more expensive in America. There are also rumours these countries might retaliate by imposing their own tariffs on some agricultural imports from America. This would put some of our food prices up.”   

Far from being reassured by Theo’s words, Ernie became even more worried.

“But Theo”, he said “that means Ernie and Theo’s Pet Accessories will cost more in America and nobody will buy them. And much, much worse than that, treats will cost more and our humans might stop buying them for us.”

Ernie tried to contemplate a “treat free world”. It was almost too much to bear, he began to whimper.

“Ernie, Ernie, calm down,” Theo said in a reassuring voice. “Ernie and Theo’s don’t do any trade in America and I doubt if treat prices will go up much – if at all! Even if they do they don’t cost that much to start with.”

Ernie at last understood something Theo had said. He felt a lot better. He also believed his cortical neurons had got home after their day out because he suddenly spotted a big tariff -free stick lying nearby.

Theo saw that Ernie’s tail had started to wag. “Does all that make you feel better?”

“Oh yes” replied Ernie, as he picked the branch up and started to chew and dance, and with a quick “Yeo Theo, see you tomorrow”, he had gone.

Theo got to his feet. He’d also read that he had 530 million cortical neurons. There wasn’t much Theo didn’t know if he was honest. However, as he trotted home, he did begin to ponder about the fairness of a world in which his cortical neurons had to work much harder than his little mate’s seemingly did.  There were, it seems, things that even he didn’t understand.


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