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READING PASSAGE 1

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.

A gentle giant and a pint-sized bully

Though a giant - more horse than dog, some say - the Irish Wolfhound, towering over his canine brethren, makes a surprisingly good pet. Hard as it may be to imagine how a hound bred for wolf-hunting, with muscular limbs, a swift turn of pace, the eyesight of an eagle, the stature of a thoroughbred, primed for, and indeed employed in, battle many times for war-hungry Celtic lords of yore, could possibly cut the mustard as a domestic pet, trust me: looks can be deceiving. In fact, despite his size and reputation, the wolfhound is becoming an increasingly popular pet choice for many families up and down the country.

Why? Well, there is a number of very good reasons. Firstly, the wolfhound is of above-average intelligence, and, therefore, responds very well to obedience training (provided the training is done from an early age, otherwise the animal’s strong prey drive may hinder development in this area). Secondly, he is very good-natured; despite the hound’s reputation as a fierce, battle-hardened animal, he is, in fact, very calm and even-tempered. Thirdly, the Irish Wolfhound is a very social animal and does well with young children. He views himself as a member of the family and so will be fiercely protective of all his ‘siblings’ and will not intentionally let any of them get in harm’s way, though his considerable frame and slight clumsiness can lead to collisions if the little members of the household don’t watch where they are going.

Though the Irish Wolfhound makes an adequate guard dog, he is, surprisingly perhaps, not terribly strong in this department. The hound tends to be aloof with strangers rather than aggressive towards them, and he may not, at least initially, bark at intruders, therefore scoring low in the watchdog department as well by failing to sound the alarm or alert the other members of the household to danger in good time. If he is provoked, however, or if a member of his ‘pack’ is threatened, his primeval instincts kick in. When that happens, intruders’d better look out!

He is a very needy pet and a large enclosed backyard is a must-have for any prospective owner because though he is easily house-trained, it is simply not fair to keep a dog of his size cooped up inside all day. His appetite is huge and this is one of the practicalities to consider before buying a Wolfhound - can you afford him? His large appetite also means that regular exercise is essential in order for him to remain healthy and at a reasonably good weight. Five-minute walks to the corner shop will not do; this animal needs proper exercise and should be taken out for between one and two hours each day. Another practicality, and also a factor that influences cost (the cost of clean-up), is his tendency to shed. Irish Wolfhounds shed a lot of fur and dog hair will likely be deposited all over the house in vast quantities. If all this is bearable and if you still want a cuddly, affectionate giant anyway, then go for it! The Irish Wolfhound will provide you with many years of loyalty and friendship.

The truth, though, is that not everyone has the space to accommodate such a beast. And, indeed, others would struggle to find the time to devote to this needy creature. The alternative, perhaps, is the comparably tiny little West Highland White Terrier. The Highland and the Wolfhound have one very important thing in common; they are both fantastic with kids. It is here, though, that the similarity ends. The Highland sheds virtually no hair at all, so you won’t be cleaning up after him all the time. He also loves to make noise, making him the perfect watchdog and quick to alert you when anything suspicious occurs. His size limits his ability to respond meaningfully to any real threat discovered though. Compared to the Wolfhound, he is a little more of a challenge in the training department, and must be monitored carefully and shown his place in the ‘pack’, otherwise his aggressive streak may come out and take over.

In almost every way possible, the Highland and the Wolfhound are different characters. The Highland could never be described as placid, and, in fact, is extremely excitable and very energetic. This little fellow suffers from a size complex of sorts, too, which sees him determined to boss those around him and have his way, despite his modest profile. He is not that interested in ‘cuddles’ either, so don’t let his size fool you into suggesting otherwise -this is no toy dog. And he is, in general, not the most affectionate of dogs, being far happier digging up your garden or barking at the neighbour’s cat than lying in the arms of his owner. So, while the Wolfhound is a gentle giant, the West Highland is, well, a little terrier in every sense of the word.

But while their character may differ, their fondness for exercise does not. The Highland is an intelligent breed and needs stimulation; regular walks are essential. He also has a penchant for water and loves to go swimming. And while he is excellent with older kids, toddlers should not be left alone around the Highland as their size, coupled with their noisiness and hyperactivity, may prompt an aggressive response from the dog.

Though both breeds have their strengths and weaknesses as pets, overall, either would make an excellent addition to the family. The West Highland will be content enough indoors, provided he gets regular exercise, but the Wolfhound must have an outdoor play area. And that is the one point I must emphasize; don’t buy a Wolfhound unless you have plenty of room.

Section 1: Questions 1-13

Questions 1-10

Questions 11-13

Section 1
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